Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another 8

It's been a good 24 hours, following a really, really, really difficult weekend and Monday. I lost it Sunday night, cried and moaned and wailed for a long time, and then E met me in the grief abyss the following day and he cried and moaned and wailed for a long time. It often seems like this is a pattern we have found for ourselves - one person hits the bottom, deep deep deep and dark, and then shortly thereafter the other finds him/herself there. It takes everything we can muster to work ourselves out. It's scary. Lonely. Terrifying. In the midst of it on Monday night, E said "And you were right...this IS what breaks couples apart, and there's no way we can make it through this..." or something to that effect; and it's so hard to hear my husband say that, and know that it's his pain talking, not the truth, and I did my best to stay strong, and tell him I loved him and I believed we COULD make it through this, we WILL make it through this, TOGETHER...

and yet...I still find myself wondering the same thing, often. I know this is normal. (I think I'd like to find a new word for "normal," by the way - a word that better encompasses this bizarre reality that is our new normal, and even "new normal" has already become cliche to me in these short six weeks.) But I digress. I know it's normal for both E and I to have doubts that we can make it through this, alone OR together. I know that the more we fall down and the more we pick ourselves up and keep moving along that we will build confidence and trust that we can weather this. Or at least I hope that's the way it works.

I have become so clingy in these last six weeks, and I kind of like it, actually. It goes against all my resolve to be a fierce independent strong woman, everything I was raised to be. I'd made it this far being a fairly good "I am a rock, I am an island" but this has knocked me to my feet and made me cling to others for help and support in ways that feel totally unfamiliar, new, and sometimes unsettling. But it has actually drawn E and I closer. Whereas I used to get mad and retreat, get into my "I can do this on my own much better than this crap..." mode, now I find myself in "Pleasepleaseplease, there is NO way I can do this alone, please don't make me try..." and it's odd and foreign and at the same time, oddly comforting to recognize this vulnerability in myself. I fall asleep making sure every square centimeter of surface area on my body that can touch my husband's body is pressed against him tightly. I wake in the middle of the night and find that he's on the other side of the bed and I burrow into him and hold on for dear life. I grab his hand while we are out walking. I hug him and kiss him and sit closer and ask him to move closer to me all the time. This is not our Old Normal way of interacting with one another. (Though I'm not necessarily proud of that fact.) But it's totally working for us. (And to many of you this may seem atrociously obvious, of course it's working...but, trust me, this is a new lesson for me here.)

Today is a beautiful, cool, crisp, bright full of sunshine autumn day. I'll take the good feelings while they last. I know the rain is supposed to start tomorrow, and my emotional patterns so often mirror the meteorological patterns, so, I'm going to feel grateful for today while I'm in it.
I'm starting to learn to trust the waves of grief, that a "good day" doesn't mean "I'm over it" and a "bad day" doesn't mean "I'll be stuck in this forever." (So I say on a "good day," right? Remind me of this on a "bad day," because it's in the dark that I never trust that the wave will pass.)

Here's my 8 for today:
1. Sunshine, clear, crisp air, blue skies, and an autumn breeze.

2. Oliver the wonder dog - the amazing, trusty, best friend wise old soul that he is. The way he crawls into bed in the morning and snuggles in with me. His grumbly snores as he sleeps.

3. The way The Woo's tail wags when he's happy; straight up in the air, a dancing little wiggle to it, it's absolutely the most perfect expression of delight.

4. Our trail up in Redwood Park. We've "done" this loop up there for years, first just with Oliver, and now with The Woo along as well. It's better than any couples therapy we've ever had - E and I have some of our best talks (or silent talks even) while walking/hiking/running this loop.

5. Again, on the loop - there's one part that we always have called "the grove of ancestors" - it's this certain spot where it has always felt to me like there are ghosts in the trees - not spooky ghosts, but just spirits. I've always felt them there, watching me, guiding me, dropping in to say hello. I've gone there to "see" my dad, and cried when I've felt his presence in the trees. Yesterday as we approached the grove, E said to me, "I wonder if Otis will be in the trees." I had just thought the exact same question not minutes before. It's one of my favorite places on earth, this grove. Angels fly low there.

6. We bought tickets to Maui yesterday. Two weeks in Jan/Feb to celebrate E's 40th birthday. It feels really indulgent to have done this, to take two weeks off, and E and I are both feeling a little like people might judge us ("They should be grieving, not vacationing!") but I think the two can and will coexist on this trip. (Huge gratitude that I have a college friend who lives on Maui with a guest house and she is hosting us for the two weeks.)

7. We also bought an elliptical machine yesterday. I can't face going to the gym right now and seeing any of my yoga students unexpectedly. Timewise, it makes the most sense to have a piece of equipment I can jump right on in the morning, sweat and get my heart rate up and my head semi-cleared, all in the comfort of my home. No parking hassles that a gym here would have. No additional driving time. No landmines of people discussing postpartum bodies or baby weight gain or me being triggered by "gym talk." Plus, our therapist strongly encouraged E to be getting some cardio for his anxiety and stress lately too, so he was on board for the purchase as well. We found this one at an outlet for more than 50% off, and it's really nice. It gets delivered tomorrow and it's rare that I feel this excited about something that will screw up the aesthetics of our home so completely. No more "clean, sparse, airy" lines in our bedroom...I think the trade off is worth it, at least for now though.

8. Seeing a neighbor today in the cafe and his acknowledgment of Otis and our loss. It still makes my eyes well with tears any time someone says "I'm so sorry for your loss" but, as I told him, I would always rather have people cross that threshold and speak to me, rather than just observe me from afar as "that woman that had THAT thing happen..." The connection that is made in the acknowledgment of Otis, of my loss, of my grief, albeit heartbreaking and sad for everyone involved in the conversation, feels like a glimmer of hope in the Grand Scheme of Things for Humanity.

We're off to take the dogs back to our loop today. Breathing in the crisp autumn air and taking in the sunshine before tomorrow's forecasted rain.

I send you all love today.


hayley said...

hi beutiful

there is so much in this post and I am glad you are writing, it's good to hear your voice. I think you and erik can make it through this, what do I know really... but I think of the beutiful speech at otis's service and how that talked of your strengths as a couple, I believe in that my dear. I believe too in the power of needing each other.

what a brilliant idea it is to go to maui, and also to have it on the horizon as something to plan for. if some peace, friends and sunshine has the possibility of lifting you for a while then there's not a right thinking person in the world who'd begrudge you it. I remember you mentioning something like this a few weeks ago, a longer trip even, do it woman, if it might help.

good to see you looking after yourself with the elliptical too.

I read back what I wrote here and it all seems so chipper. i'm sorry hon, can I smallprint the following disclaimer when I write to you; I know you're in (or around) the fucking pit of it, I know Otis is gone and things have changed forever, I believe in you and have great hope for you, but that doesn't mean I don't hear you.

all my love h.x

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post my friend...
I know how tough this journey is between spouses, and I believe in both of you.
Maui probably will not be a typical vacation for you, but I hope it will be peaceful.

I love that you both listened for Otis in the trees...and I hope both of you felt his presence.
Love and grace-L

kate said...

Beautiful sarah... I want to piggy back on hayley's comment and say how wonderful it is to hear your voice. To see your lulu list warms my heart. Your honesty, vulnerability and your ability to see beauty in the world around you even when you are in such deep pain, moves me to tears...

I am glad you have Maui to look forward to.

With love,

Kate xx

æ said...

so much warmth and love to you from me tonight too, sarah. thank you for letting us know you through all of this, in so many ways. and i mean ALL of this, the past several years, now...everything that is you and otis and your life and world.

i am often struck by how lovely and tender and fun your relationship with E is and can be. that he too would be attuned to the trees.

your lululists have changed my last few days...made me see the world in lululist form, which is such a nice way to be here.

you and otis continue to inform every waking minute of my day, okay and probably non-waking too. i mean it.


æ said...
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Angela said...

You've been stopping by my blog and offering much comfort and support. I wanted to stop over, say hello, and sorry for the loss of your sweet Otis.

Holding a marriage together after the loss of a baby is difficult, but not impossible. You are so smart to stay close, to rely on him. And going away for a while is a fabulous idea too.

Warmth, light, and love to you on this difficult journey.

sarah said...

Thanks for being here. It means so much to me.


hayley said...

how you doing today love? thinking of you as ever. x

brianna said...

I totally understand that need to have as much physical contact as possible to sleep through the night. It helps.

I hope you are enjoying the crisp autumn air.