PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I have been having a pretty good week. Moments that border on ebullient, actually. The weather is bright and sunshiney, and the trees are green, there's good breezes blowing, and nothing earth-shattering or negative is forcing my universe to center around it.

Driving home last night, listening to the news, I had a new experience in the coping department. I explained it later to my husband like this.

In the beginning of grief, it's as though you have a thousand sheets of paper dumped all around you, and there is chaos. Everything is laid out and unorganized. Slowly, you start to shuffle and order and find a folder or three, maybe a box, and you put some of the papers away. A gust of wind can scatter them again, but you are moving ahead. More time passes, and you realize you're never going to get rid of all these pieces of paper, but you do have a system and method and some of the more unmanageable papers are tightly tucked away inside a nice heavy safe. By this I mean, "songs on the radio don't make me burst into tears every day." In other words, progress.

So as I'm listening, a report comes on about Ted Kennedy's brain cancer/tumor. I was shocked, but didn't really feel anything, initially. Until the doctor they interviewed started explaining his type of cancer, and that it wasn't metastatic. Click. My father's cancer had metastasized throughout his body, including his brain.
The approach to treatment was described. Click. I heard my father's voice, so small, trying to control himself and be strong, telling me the cancer had, indeed, gone to his brain.
I heard the doctor from the Mayo clinic say, "You do realize there's nothing I can do for your father, right?" and remembered the utter confusion in my mind, because no, I did not understand that. Spin, Spin, Click.
And I looked around and saw a bright blue sky, sharp, fresh green leaves bursting from the trees, smelled fresh cut grass and remembered that day, when I found out the cancer was in his brain, how I screamed at a co-worker and drove myself home, to sit outside in the blinding sunshine and sob, confused and afraid. Seeing my husband's face unexpectedly appear, for of course he would come home to be with me, even though it never occurred to me he would.

And the safe door swung open to pour those tucked-away papers all over my lap. All of this, that's taken several minutes to write, happened in the span of 60 seconds or less. I found myself with tears streaming down my face, struggling to regain my previous optimistic demeanor, and to maintain control, because I was driving. I wasn't crying for the Kennedys, though I keenly know how hard it must be for them. I cried for myself. My loss. My pain. It was brief, and I went home to get a big hug and to putter with my husband in his garden, to pull some weeds and admire the drip irrigation system he's worked so hard on. Life goes on. My desire - almost two years ago - was to get THROUGH all of this. What I didn't know, and couldn't fathom, is that there is no end point. This will stay with me until I die. In ebbs and flows, my love and sadness will visit me, sometimes expectedly, sometimes out of the bright blue spring sky.

Nobody lied when they said time was the answer. So hard to see in those early months, but it truly truly does heal. Heal, not cure. Sigh. I'm learning so so much.

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posted by PlazaJen, 1:43 PM