Sunday, May 02, 2010

How I'm really doing

When people ask how I'm doing, the answer is usually either "OK," or "better than I thought I'd be doing." However, I'm starting to think that might not be true.

For the first week, I did feel like I was doing ok. I was sad, but I didn't cry every day and I could look back on memories of Alicia with joy for the person she was. The first few days especially, I felt like a little part of Alicia's light had landed in my heart and I could feel it burning bright with joy and love of life. It was an amazing feeling. But underlying all of that was a melancholy I still can't shake.

I have NO motivation to do anything beyond what is immediately required of me in that moment. All I want to do at home is read "comfort books" and sometimes play some video games. Peter has taken up all of the housekeeping slack, and even so, the laundry pile is enormous. I can manage at work because my job is very in-the-moment, but when I have downtime, I am extremely unproductive. Luckily, people at work have been incredibly supportive.

But. I have had more breakdowns in the past few days than in most of that first week. The melancholy is breaking through more and more. The motivation to do ANYTHING has not really come back as soon as I thought it would.

Lesson one: I'm not really doing as well as I thought.

I realized something else very important yesterday as well. I decided to go do a little shopping on Pearl Street for my favorite thing to shop for: gifts for friends. Peter couldn't come with me because he was preparing a poster for a conference. Not a big deal, I thought. Pearl Street was incredibly beautiful-- the tulips were aflame in red and yellow under spreading trees with new green leaves. The sun was shining with fluffy white clouds scudding across the blue sky, and everywhere people were laughing, playing and enjoying the spring day. The overwhelming JOY of it all hit me hard and the tears came quickly. I knew if Peter had been there, it might still have been hard, but I probably wouldn't have lost it quite so badly.

Lesson two: It's harder being alone.

Also, lesson three: For me, happy things are harder than sad things.

I must say, it has been fascinating to observe and recognize these and other patterns in my grief. This death is the closest I've experienced so far, and certainly the most "unfair," if that's possible to say (i.e., not my 92 year old grandma). So this is probably the most authentic grief I have experienced and it is teaching me so much. I hope that by embracing the emotions I feel, I can not only process things more fully, but also experience life (and death) more fully. I want to honor Alicia enough to not shy away from this pain, but face it as bravely as I can.

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