"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Prickly


The subject line said simply, mom. The late afternoon e-mail from my youngest brother could have been about our mother or his mother-in-law, both of whom are fragile. Since the law of threes is one away from being fulfilled, I expected the news to be bad. What I didn't expect was the feeling of almost overwhelming irritation that swooped in when the news involved social services, an insurance company, and a time limit, all of which required my attention because I hold the PoA for our mom. Mom was fine, but that didn't make me feel any better.

I went to bed fuming, just a couple of notches away from ranting and raving, and completely puzzled about why the feelings were so strong over something that, at the most, a month ago would have elicited a shake of my head and a rueful grin at the way my baby brother operates.


Sleep managed to overcome my state, until the phone rang at 2:00 A.M. The voice saying it was a wrong number was not that of a stranger, but that of my cousin who hung up before I could ask what was wrong. I thought about calling her back, but didn't want to wake up any more than necessary, so instead spent the rest of the night tossing and turning, falling back to sleep just before my alarm went off at 4:30.

I stayed in bed, settled into real sleep, until the phone rang at 5:30, and rang and rang and rang. So I stumbled into the kitchen to hear a recording tell me Walt had a late start today. When I found him outside and told him about the call, he looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. When irritation found its way to my voice and I mentioned I'd hoped to get some sleep, I got the same blank look. When I took a breath, and was just an exhale from making everything his fault, he took me in his arms and just held me.

A few minutes later as I sat here reading a second no-more-helpful e-mail from my brother, hearing Walt rummage in a drawer for a thing he'd put there himself, listening to cats yeow and Toby demand attention - and wanting to scream at all of them to shut the f***k up and leave me in peace, I realized the problem wasn't with any of them. In fact that was a pretty normal morning for us. The only not normal event was the way I was feeling.

Then I received an email from my friend Jan who often sends me links to amazing blogs. The one she sent me today was nothing short of miraculous. Jen Gray talks about grief, applying her own experience to the Kubler-Ross stages. It was what she said about the anger stage that went straight to my soul: I would have to say Im more irritated and impatient than angry.Not so tolerant of things that normally would roll off my back. 

And then the rains came. Somehow seeing those words, understanding that I've just found myself in a new room of this house called grief, broke my heart all over again. It was like all the prickliness of the previous hours left me more vulnerable than before. A vulnerability that was held and honored by messages from friends (and my sweet husband), a series of surprise gifts of love spread over the morning, from people who couldn't have known their words were exactly what I needed today. 

This storm has blown over, leaving me tired, beyond tired, and for the moment at least, free of irritation. Feeling sad, not just for my loss, but for all the senseless loss that seems so abundant right now. And feeling more certain than ever that love will win in the end. That love does in fact win every single time one person opens her heart, every time one person returns unkindness with a gentle hug, every time a choice is made for peace.

24 comments:

Barb said...

When our burdens seem too heavy to bear, I believe we try to protect ourselves by hardening and blaming as we seek a moment's peace or a needed release of emotions. To recognize where you are in your stages of grief surely will help you cope, Deb. That you are able to soften your heart and accept your feelings shows your strength and resiliency. More hugs coming your way.

Donna said...

When I read what you have written in the past few weeks, I knew immediately what was the cause of your irritation. Seeing your shiney bright smile on the side of your blog, one has to feel that you are an exceptionally sunny person. Irritation is not you. What you have been through lately would have been overwhelming to most ANY other person! You are resilient and a wonderful writer to boot. Yes, you are going through all the stages of grief. Blog everyday..let us support you...and when you are ready...compile and put it into a book...many people can be helped by your marvelous example of how to survive. You were helped by another post. Just an idea....but really...you are amazing in this life's trial.
Sending caring thoughts....D

Tabitha Bird said...

I know that feeling, Deb and I am thinking of you are you go through it. Hugs to you as you deal with the hole loss leaves behind.

Wanda said...

Sigh. I breathe in...and out...and repeat. I stand beside you.

LauraX said...

Now I see why my post resonated so deeply for you today. Yes another room in this place called grief. I find myself visiting different grieving rooms lately too...watching my shifting "moods" swing like doors on well oiled hinges. YOU are exactly where you need to be in this moment, and you are doing exactly what needs to be done...softening your heart and allowing all of the feelings to have the space they need to spill out and be experienced fully.

sending LOVE

yaya said...

Deb, I just will send hugs to you and give prayers for peace.

kario said...

Love Walt's response to you. And again, I love your openness and honesty with yourself.

Love you. Even prickly.

Retired English Teacher said...

Deb, understanding the stages of grief does help us understand why we are reacting the way we do. I've found that the stages are not set in stone, but instead that I may cycle through all of them in a day or two. Knowing this is normal has really helped me.

As usual, you writing is stunning. You eloquently put into words your deepest feelings. You are a source of help and inspiration for me and others.

Retired English Teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
#1Nana said...

I'm writing this as I listen to the president at the memorial service in Arizona. There seems to be an excess of grief eberywhere I look.

Your writing is eloquent, and I hope it helps you on the journey.

Hang in there.

Bernie said...

I've just been in that room, Deb, and it is terrifying when one doesn't know that it is to be expected. Why don't we know? Why didn't someone tell us? Maybe they did but we didn't think it would ever pertain to us.

And the next phase and the next and they will recur back again not in the perceived order. But it does get better. Believe that.

I am so sorry that you have to bear this and I send my love to you also.

Lilith said...

Thank you for this. I've had a horrible month with my mother, knowing I am slowly losing her, irritated beyond belief by everything, including her. Perhaps it's grief I feel, at what's to come.

She Writes said...

Grief is weary place to reside.

Katie Gates said...

Beautiful again. That final paragraph, so very touching and healing. BTW and on the subject of grief, I read a memoir over the holidays, and because the author and the friend she was writing about (also a writer) are both avid dog people, I thought of you. Have you heard of or read Let's Take the Long Way Home? By Gail Caldwell. I think you'd enjoy it. (FYI, for me, it didn't really become compelling until after the first 90 pages or so, and at that point, it was a one-sitting, remarkably moving experience.)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Knowing where you are in this grief process has to be helpful. I love how you finish this - that love does win out. Not matter how much life does to us, it can't eat us too.

Take good care.

Terri Tiffany said...

I'm thankful you can see where you are at in this grief process and know that it is okay--to feel irritated with everything around you. Praying that your days grow easier really really soon.

Facing50Blog.com said...

I don't have the correct words to express how I feel about this post. I agree with Donna because I think blogging about it will assist. I can only send you my own sincere cyber hug and hope you can feel the empathy and warmth that I currently am sending you. Your writing is as always so poignant and beautiful and I wait to see the pain receed further for you.
Carol

Carrie Link said...

I really love this post (and love the blog background, too - nice!). But especially loved this, "When I took a breath, and was just an exhale from making everything his fault, he took me in his arms and just held me."

This is a good reminder that we all process grief slightly differently, and that irritation and anger are on the same continuum.

love.

Suzy said...

You have already won.

Love you

Suzy

Sandi said...

Ah Deb, man did this post bring bak memories. Sheesh, I remember so well that almost constant state of irritation, frustration, impatience . . . all reasons why I just couldn't be in the classroom in those early months. I don't know exactly when it began to ebb away, and it's so rare now, it seems like it was another life. Which, I guess it was . . .
I"m so grateful you received what you needed from those who love you. Love and hugs to you today.

Stacy Crawford said...

The stages of grief are important for you to go through...Let us help you. It is hard to make sense of death no matter the cause...prayers and hugs are coming to you from Ohio!

Wanda..... said...

Hope you are finding some comfort in all these loving comments, Deb.
Loss of a loved one can cause such painful grief. Your writing is inspiring, Deb. Love to you.

deb said...

you humble me.
I stay in the anger part of grief ( without intent or realizing it even ) so long. In one case, still.

Kathryn Grace said...

" ...feeling more certain than ever that love will win in the end."

Yes.