Leo is taking a nap -
so I will write for myself.
Since Jim died in March nothing is the same and grief teaches me new lessons every day. Some lessons are tougher than others.
About memories: I love memories and in the past I have wandered through that space, relishing the remembering of happy times and making stories out of them.
Now, I still do wander there - very carefully - but sometimes the memories, no matter how loving and lovely, cut right to the bone. Its really a strange thing. For the time being I have to be careful where I walk.
About watching out for yourself: Every day is challenging because life is like a black icy road with invisible pot holes. You cannot predict what will bring up a memory - a longing - an aching feeling of loss - that will knock you flat.
Last week I went downtown to a meeting of reps from large women's organizations to market my Capital Fringe show, Pushing Boundaries. It was interesting and I learned a lot. It was also in a building where, 30 years ago, I regularly attended meetings during my days as ERA Campaign Director for the League of Women Voters. I parked in the same parking lot I used most days back then. Days I shared with Jim. I often rode to and from work with him and we talked over our days.
On the way home I was feeling pleased with how things had gone until I realized over again that he was not waiting at home. I could not tell him about the day. And, I drove up Connecticut Avenue weeping. I had not expected this. I had not protected myself by walking through it beforehand - - practicing walking that walk.
Some days, the simplest thing - like rolling the grocery cart into the familiar supermarket produce department where Jim and I shopped together regularly for 40 years - are dangerous as it - brings on a wave of loss and wishing.
Going out into the world is tiring and dangerous. I bump into someone and they ask, "how's Jim?" because they do not know he has died. So I tell them and I hold onto my own feelings as I watch their eyes fill with tears. They are hearing this news for the first time.
Yesterday in a doctor's office I ran into a woman I once worked with. "Didn't your husband die?"
She asked it kindly, making the connection with reading Jim's obituary in the Washington Post. "Yes". After a moment, "How are you making out?"
"I have been better." is my usual answer.
Someone told me. "You are amazing. You are doing so well!"
Ah, good, my act is working.
I have learned one important thing - you have to tell your story to someone to start the healing.
Since March I have talked it out to a hospice bereavement councilor - over the phone - never seeing her face - being comforted by her mellow understanding voice.
This week I visited a therapist. We sat face to face in her comfortable office. I looked into her understanding eyes and began to tell my story.
I left feeling relieved. And, grateful for her listening.
This is what Jim for his patients. I always knew it.
Now I Got it.