PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Moments of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion wrote a book called "The Year of Magical Thinking", and her words, her stark, stark writing, take my breath away. It's essentially a chronicle of the year following the death of her husband, John Dunne, and her grief. I can only read it in demitasse spoonfuls. It is beautiful, it is so accurate, it is like an acupuncture needle to my heart and it is like air in my lungs, simultaneously. Painful, reflective, reassuring.

She speaks to the moments, where you forget, where you believe reality is different, when you expect your loved one to come through the door, call on the phone, those moments that happen in just a fraction of time, like when you first wake, before truth is confronted and settles around your shoulders. In that fragment, you can believe it was all a dream, it didn't happen, there's a mistake somewhere, an error in the code. Then you are reminded. Then you see the other memories. Truth prevails. That kind of vascillation can make you feel pretty crazy.

In the grief group, I gravitate towards talking about anger. Anger is a safer place for me. Anger lends itself to a semblance of control. I also quiz the facilitators. We have been asked to bring in pictures, to talk about the person we lost. I could feel the room shrink up in fear, as I felt my own skin retract, pull in. As graciously as I could, I acknowledged that they had run many of these groups, and so I was not questioning the validity of this assignment, but WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS SERVE? Of course there was some nervous laughter from the other participants, because I believe I was saying what they were thinking, and honestly, I knew from my own reaction they were wondering if they could do it or just avoid it altogether. The answer was that it helps. It helps to memorialize the person, it helps to solidify the experience, and, well, they've done a whole bunch of these groups and me? I haven't done it before, ever. So I'm trusting them. I want to burst into tears at the thought of doing this. But I won't avoid it. I am processing the fear and the grief right now, and over the next few days, so that by Monday night, I can do this, even if it means I cry through the whole thing, but I will do it, because like Joan Didion, I, too, am scrambling for a process, a structure, a loop to grab onto as the grief bus lurches and surges and screeches to a halt and the moments fleet by when I hear the word "Dad" in my head and I know it will never, ever, ever mean the same thing because I am now without one.

I know I'll never stop missing him. I just look forward to that point in time, and I guess it all comes down to time, when it doesn't feel like a cheese grater on my heart when I realize he's never coming back, he wasn't mysteriously switched in the hospital with a doppleganger, this wasn't all some crazy joke, that he won't be on the other end of the phone, giving me advice, laughing about Jon Stewart, singing John Prine with me, loving me. I miss him so.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:57 AM