Tag Archive | grief

…a time to tear down and a time to build…Ecclesiastes 3:3b N.I.V.

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Yesterday my grief and depression teamed up to go to battle with another team within me, grit and determination, before the morning light filtered through the window shades.  Despite my intentions I forfeited to team number one.  By doing so when I picked up our daughter from school I had spent the last five hours either asleep curled up under the covers or silently naming things that began with the letters of the alphabet backwards until sleep would claim me again.  Being awake was too painful.

Yet as I backed out of our garage I managed a genuine smile as the continual promised gray skies have yielded to surprise sunshine, driving the grayness of the outside away.  My smile wasn’t plastered on so our daughter wouldn’t know I was hiding my feelings from her and the ignition of the homework routine wasn’t a battle for me, even the math.  While I didn’t manage to accomplish much on my “to do” list, having given into my despair, it helped.  Though I must promise myself not to allow many days like yesterday.  Grief has to be worked through and I have to be careful not to pity myself into a break with reality.

Today, as I didn’t start on the portion of my list of tasks yesterday, I have only one major task to accomplish:  the farewell steps of leaving my professional career.  It has to be today for I have no other choice now.  I’ve waited for a reprieve and none has arrived.  I’ve prayed for a miracle either a miracle of healing or of changed minds and attitudes but it hasn’t been granted.  Today I will:

  • Pack up 13 years of my professional life.  Give away what I do not want and bring the rest home to either incorporate into our home’s décor or go to a local mission thrift shop tomorrow.
  • Type up and turn in my withheld letter of resignation because I have yet to accept, yes even now, that this is happening.
  • Turn in my “wad of keys”, ID badge, parking decal, Wal-Mart credit card and Sam’s Membership Card to Human Resources.
  • Drive toward home no longer employed, no longer able to identify myself as what I do for a living and tasting the bitterness of knowing I am now a case number with the long term disability insurance company and soon, with Social Security.

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I am struck suddenly, with the realization of how familiar the feelings I am having now mirror the ones I had before my amputation.  Feelings of being herded into a decision I didn’t want to make but had to.  Realizing I’ve used up my last options.  Knowing the hour is fast approaching when I will have those last moments to stop this door from opening and closing behind me.

Really, I could and I feel the urge to do so like I felt the urge to yell, “No, I’ve changed my mind!” when I was being wheeled towards the operating room to have my leg amputated.  Legally my job is mine until the last minute of my F.M.L.A. runs out on January 10.  I could have my doctor fax over a release to return to work and wheel in on the 9th ready to work an eight hour day or a ten hour one.

But I know I won’t.  At least I don’t imagine I will.  Just like I didn’t change my mind about the amputation because the reality is what the reality is for I can’t work four to five eight to twelve hour days anymore.  My body just won’t take the pressure or the stress.  I risk my life to keep working, for the next time the blood clot could kill me.  How many times has God dodged that bullet for me?  Or the next infection which my body doesn’t even fight on its own anymore, will be so out of control by the time I get to help it will have progressed to far to save my life.

The door is opening, my own hand is on the knob and the weight of me and my power chair are propelling it to yield to us…

Behind me are the ruins of a time of my life in which I’ve felt successful, useful, needed, respected…

The time to tear down has for the time being, reached a final phase.  I can’t see what is on the other side of this doorway but I know, “I never walk alone.”

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Cold and Gray

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It’s cold outside and gray.  The sky is the gray of lead and the air is gray with layers of soupy fog.  The weather on television promised no sunshine until next week.  On the short drive to our daughter’s elementary school the car’s heater chugs out streams of warm air, which she cuts off on her side of the car, leaving me a double portion of warmth.  In my mind it too is gray, a fleece blanket of gray heat wrapping itself around me.  Having dropped her off I briefly consider driving eight miles to get a decent cup of coffee but decide not to.   I drive right back home and ready to go into the house.

The garage floor is gray, that fact penetrates my thoughts as I drive my power chair up the ramp into the house.  I close the door on the grayness of the garage floor as I’ve closed it on the grayness of the world outside but I can’t close off the gray thoughts in my mind.

Grief has settled into my heart and seems determined to stay.  It’s been 19 months and I should be past all this, I tell myself, but it does no good.  I recall, in pieces, bits of a dream I had last night, a black and white dream fitting to my gray mood.  My mother and I are talking.  I can see us although I can’t make out what we’re saying.  I dream a lot about her lately.  She’s been in heaven almost 13 years now.  I also dream of my father, not as often, he will be gone four years this coming February, just next month.  In my dreams they are both still alive, still with us and when I wake I want nothing more than to pick up the phone and talk to my mother.  Awake her death seems to hit me all over again but although it hurts, the hurt doesn’t linger like it did when she passed.  Then it was overwhelming, the grief, the pain rocking my world and I remember that first night when I lay exhausted by the grief of that day thinking, “How is the world going on out there when our world stopped today?  Don’t they know nothing is the same?  It will never be the same again.”

Once in the house I want nothing more than to work my way back into bed, burrow beneath the covers and go back to sleep.  My eyes are heavy with the need to just close.  My mind seems detached as it reminds me of things I need to do besides sleep.  The Christmas tree needs to be undecorated.  I’ve got the family pictures to finish arranging and prepare for being hung, along with the last of the frames painted black.  I should be on my way to Birmingham to pack up but I put it off until this afternoon.  The heat is running, I can feel it blowing, but I am chilly.  Again, the bed and the covers call to me.

As I move from my power chair to the bed I can’t help but be reminded of my loss.  In my dreams I haven’t experienced this loss.  I walk, drive, shop, and sing; all the normal activities of my prior life without the aid of anyone. The dependence I have now on someone to go with me to shop angers me.  Though I can drive I can’t get out of the car and go into a place without a wheelchair.  I can’t get a wheelchair out of the car without scratching the car and doing more damage to the wheelchair.  Other things, such as singing in the choir or special music at church are gone, just gone.

Nineteen months.  I want free of this grayness, this renewed depression but it seems to be part of my soul.

I want it back.  I want to go back to those moments when the hospital staff are wheeling me out of the pre-op room and the realization I can still say no comes to my mind.  If I could go back, would I say no?  Yes, but to what avail?  I would need to go further back and fix so many wrongs, remake so many decisions that I can’t unravel the paths of life that brought me to that operation 19 months ago.  I can’t pinpoint the beginning of what resulted in the need for the amputation.  Could I have gone back and turned the tide at any one place would it be enough?  Again I am swept away by the realization regardless, it can’t be done.

Outside it is cold and gray.   Inside, in spite of the electric lights, the heater easing away the cold it is cold and gray too.  In my heart it is cold and gray.  Only cold and gray everywhere…