The Length and Depth of Grief

One of the (many) things that annoys me about how we teach children about life is how rarely we talk to them about the different ways in which grief, as in you’ve lost someone grief, represents in different people. We don’t talk about how to deal with it and how to help others with it.

This has become a tough time of the year for me because Oct 26th is not only the day I finally realized I had to let Amelia go. It’s also the birthday of a beloved relative who is sorely missed. It’s additionally the birthday of someone I knew in college who passed almost 10 yrs ago, and while I don’t grieve him, many of my dearest college friends do.

So yeah, my brain plays tricks on me as we come up on this day, and I don’t really have good ways to deal with those tricks. Like making me forget about the date and then dumping something on me like the dream I had two days ago, in which I “discovered” I had forgotten Amelia for months underneath a bed in my parents’ house, but she was still alive. Just typing that sentence out brings back the horror and despair I felt in the dream. (I’ll spare folk any further description.) Or like when I’m having a particular beer and I think “Oh I should text Nicole and J— oh no.”

It feels WEIRD to say “I’m crying because in my dream however long ago I was a terrible companion to an animal who’s been dead for four years.” Or to explain to whomever I’m with at the bar “No, it’s nothing you said, I just thought….”  There’s no good scientific framework for it, either – I look up shit like this study and so far, nothing offers more clarity.

On the other side of it, I don’t have good things to say to my wonderful friends. “I’m sorry for your loss?” Well, I KNEW him, so that comes across as insincere. Offering support and presence? I am most emphatically NOT the person they want to go to if they want to talk about him. And if someone were to say either of those things to me concerning Amelia, I would honestly feel like a fool. There’s only one person – besides Jon – who could offer that to me and have that feel like a support.

But I’m me. And other people are different. The length and depth of their individual grief does not show up like mine. The differences are as varied as each of our specific relationships.

Because there is no way to know, all we have are stock responses to offer each other, and self-dismissive ways to deal with that moment when we’re plunged, unexpectedly, into the crevasse the loved one’s absence has created.

If you are grieving alone because of poor responses from others or, hell, if you’re simply trying to be a brave face? Please know some folks understand how long it can take, and that you never truly get over it.

Happy September

Though, uh, not THIS week, ffs. Our block is enduring some massive construction to fix some pipes, and the streets are torn up and our road is closed. But that’s not the really rough part. The rough part is that things keep going wrong.

Monday – We had a marvelous TRUCK parked right outside our bedroom window starting at 12 am, idling incredibly loudly alllll night long. It spent until about 5 am with its roof flashers/beacons on, which by the way, is still visible as a kind of slow strobe effect with one’s eyes closed.

Even if it is reflected off the wall through the small break in one’s blackout curtains.

It was a beautiful night, temperature-wise, so we had left the window open… but I had to close it because not only did the sound come in but the exhaust did too.

Later that day, somewhere between toweling off the dog and making dinner, I lost my wedding ring. Looked for it; didn’t find it.

Tuesday – First, we were woken up 2 hours before our normal wake-up time by a truck running its alert flashers, announcing REALLY loudly that our street was closed and any cars parked there would be towed.

Over and over and over again.

Then, not only was it the anniversary of one of the worst days – for some reason that morning there were LOTS of people talking about it on social media in ways that brought up all the memories. Particularly relating to the dogs.

And THEN, due to the digging on our street, we lost internet a bit past noon… an hour before I was supposed to leave for a meeting. (Luckily it went out after I finished my webinar.) Jon spent over an hour and a half on hold with Verizon to get assistance. We were told we’d need to wait until Weds morning for a tech. And apparently my data plan is low on the AT&T priority list, because even Google didn’t work well on my cell phone browser, and apps were being badly hiccupy. I could have gone to Whole Foods to use their wifi, but when I had walked by there after my meeting all the tables had been full. Standing on concrete is NOT my jam.

The next wonderful thing? My prescription insurance didn’t work for the 2 scripts I had called in. So I had to do without my allergy meds until I could call my insurance company.

… aaand when I went to my latenight reading, I discovered had forgotten to download the next book in the trilogy I was reading to my Kindle. *headdesk* I didn’t WANT to start a new book. N.K. Jemisin’s writing is too good for that.

I never thought I’d miss the days of broadcast TV.

Wednesday – The Verizon tech came around 10:30 am and confirmed that there was nothing she could do, since our outage was due to the construction on our street. She told Jon they’d get another department out to fix it, and to call her back if it wasn’t on before 6 pm.

OMG, 6 pm. We were both so incensed. (Not at the tech, though. She was great.)

But the phone data? Still messed up. I couldn’t connect to another conference call I was supposed to attend, and the app wouldn’t work. Plus my insurance was STILL messed up, since the CS rep told me to give them 48 hours to get the right information in, so I was itchy as hell and my breathing wasn’t the best.

I spent the day alternating between looking for my damn ring and burying myself in a video game. *rolls eyes at self*

The internet went back on at 9 pm.

It’s now Thursday. I have to go get allergy shots soon. I have taken two Claritin and am keeping all fingers and paws crossed that the wrongness of the week has dissipated, and that I will NOT have any worse effects than I normally do.

But dammit, I still want my ring.

Welcome to Philadelphia

Square photo of sunset clouds in colors of fuchsia, dark salmon, and bright gold over the crenellations of the Philadelphia

Crappy iPhone photo of a fuchsia, dark salmon, and gold sunset over the Philadelphia Art Museum

Been a bit of time since I’ve updated here, sheesh. It feels like I’ve been running on empty for months now, with Jon being here since end of March and needing to do multiple cross-country drives and a flight in order to get everything settled in.

Yeah, I did 4650 miles in a car, 1550 of that with two animals, plus a round trip flight. And holy shit I did that all in 30 days.

Aaaand since arriving in Philly at the beginning of May, I have been to Baltimore twice for family, NYC twice for friends and once for work, and Stamford once for work.

…*crash*
Can I stop now?

Oh wait, no I can’t – work & friends on Wednesday, DC protest Saturday…

I don’t think I’m going to move at the beginning of summer ever again. *klonk*

Abandoned train tracks with crumbling train ties on the lower right hand side, underneath blooming buckeye and crepe myrtle trees, and a lightly-graffiti'd stone wall on the left hand side, with sumac and oak trees flourishing above it.

Abandoned train tracks with crumbling train ties on the lower right hand side, underneath blooming buckeye and crepe myrtle trees, and a lightly-graffiti’d stone wall on the left hand side, with sumac and oak trees flourishing above it.

But in the meantime, I’m finding some little hidden gems around. It’s not as wildlife-friendly as Buffalo Bayou was, so I’ll really miss the egrets and other water birds… but it has definitely got its charms.

I like it here. :)

Particularly Proud of this Pelican Shot

A Brown Pelican (large water bird with white-and-black mottled wings and orange patches on its head and beak) flying low across gray, lightly wavy water. Its wings are on the downbeat.

Brown pelican in flight, from a Galveston trip in early March. I’m particularly proud of this photo, given I had no tripod and was following the bird by hand. The rest of the shots in this series? Not so much.