Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pinball Wizard

We are sitting at the table, and I mention that I’m worried about the future. I say:”I feel like this is a pinball game and we are one of the bumpers in the corner. For some reason, we haven’t been whacked by the pinball. We are just sitting here waiting for a shiny steel ball to scream out of the corner and hit us. We are so lucky that it hasn’t happened yet.”

Eileen looks at me curiously and says “but we have both already been hit.”
I think and realize that I have set aside the fact that we both cared for our spouses at the end of their lives. But I’m just looking ahead and worrying about the future pinball. I ignore surviving a giant hammer that beat us up every day… for years.
I had thought I had managed my grief to the point that I was no longer –re-living some of the more ghastly scenes. I’m still hoping to be able to enjoy the memories that preceded Cancer. Or as I just read in a short story: “Cancer World.” If you have been there as a caregiver, you know all about Cancer World. If you don’t, I’m not going to tell you.

A few days ago, I heard an 80 year old man speak of his grief at the loss of his spouse (50 years). The hatch-cover for my grief, which I thought was pretty firmly in place, came quite loose. In fact, the door swung wide open and I felt quite overcome with tears and sobbing.

After Sarah died, I didn’t do much crying. I have been able to do more of that these past 4 years. Eileen and I understand and I can cry with her. We both have our moments. But this gentle man, who spoke of wrapping love around his grief really unlocked me for a few moments.

Later, I marveled at the strength of my emotions. I used the term electrocuted and then realized the term was electric. I felt shocked.

Although I didn’t need a reminder, this was an affirmation that grief is forever. When Sarah first died and I was speaking with people, I began to say:” I have a wound that will never heal. It is not infected. I’m o.k. but it is never going to heal.”
Still true.

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