Therapy Tuesday

11:37 PM Edit This 17 Comments »
After the first death, there is no other - Dylan Thomas


I met the Dead Guy in the psychotel. Seriously. It's no place to meet your spouse. I will not grace you with the thought process that allowed me to think that was okay, but it is what it is. I was very, very inebriated when I was admitted. As usual. He'd been there for two weeks. They were convinced he had tried to kill himself. I know now that his battle cry was the truth, "I just wanted to get high." He didn't want to die, he just made the mistake of driving while intoxicated. And a very bad accident ensued. The first words I ever said to him were, "Whatever floats your boat." when he asked if I wanted to join a late night card game. A moment later, we were sitting in the day room, comparing notes and noticed that we were reading the same book, "A Widow for a Year" by John Irving. I pointed out several passages that meant something to me and he pointed out several others, palmed his Trazadone, and handed it off to me so I could sleep. And that was that. Bring in the singing violins.

The quote comes from that book. And the title of the book is telling. Who would have thought? That three and a half years later, I'd be acting like a widow? The color stripped from my life in one instant.

And that's what it's like. Life loses it's color. Black and white ensues and you don't know how to get even the pastels back. One of the matriarchs of recovery around here died last night. I got the text from a woman that I sponsor who works in hospice. She was there when it happened. And I wanted so badly to be there for her. And I was. Momentarily. When she called later, I held it together. Because I KNOW death. And then she started to describe how this woman's husband clung to her and begged her to help his wife, and I lost it. Only someone who has lost a spouse understands the horror and the pain. No platitudes will do. "I'm sorries." and "She's free." can go fuck themselves. Please don't say a goddamn word. Just hug me and move along thankyouverymuch.

Instantly, and unbidden, I was transported back to that ugly place where the pain lives. I want to grieve this woman, but I'm not allowed to. My head goes back to the Dead Guy. I can't help it. And I want it to stop, but it won't. After the first death, there is no other? What the hell? Am I destined to think of him every time? I was sobbing when I went upstairs and laid down with Gay Boyfriend, who thank God, knows how to deal with my meltdowns. He opens his arms and lets me fall into them and tells me the truth with a capital T. I said, "I can't handle more dead people. I can't DO it. I hate it. Make them stop dying!" And he said, "Kate! That's not life. We are all going to die and the people you love are going to keep dying. Period." I didn't like that. I didn't like it at all. But he held me as I cried, got me soft kleenex and water and watched me until I was tired enough to go to sleep.

I can't handle more dead people. I can't. But I have to. And that sucks. Sucks ALOT. But tomorrow, I am going to put on my big girl panties and do my best. Do my best to be there for someone who hurts more than I do. It's all I CAN do. And I have no platitudes. And I have no words of wisdom. Only a hug and a smile that will not fade. Because I do know that life exists after death. I don't have to like it, but I have to do it.

17 comments:

E said...

I can't even handle a dead dog, much less dead people.
But we do sort of have an obligation to live since we are alive. Eloise lived and by God she would want me too. So I cry constantly, because I was bonded to that girl like normal people with normal families or origin were bonded to them.
We have to cope with this loss. It is why love and happiness feel so good. If we were never sad we couldn't appreciate happy....
Meanwhile we cry....

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Gay boyfriend is right. People die. I hate it too, but it's part of life. The pain and grief we feel when someone dies is the price we have to pay for loving them - and the more we love them, the more it hurts. Is it a fair price to pay? Hell if I know. Would you give back all the time you had with him in exchange for not feeling the loss over his death? I don't mean that as a platitude - "better to have loved and lost," and all that bullshit - I mean that as a serious question - if you could go back in time to the moment you met him and erase that moment from your life, would your life be better today, or would it be worse? Only you can answer that, but you have to dig deep before you do - you have to think of all the ways your life was affected by his being in it; everything you learned from him, every conversation you had, every moment you shared. Would your life be better today, or would it be worse? I don't even know you, but I think I know the answer just from the way you write about him.

Just something to think about.

And you're right - all the "I'm sorries" and "she's frees" can go fuck themselves. I've been on the receiving end of way too many of those, and all you want to do is punch the next person who says it to you. Sometimes you just need to cry. And that's okay.

BrianAlt said...

I love John Irving. (Not that it's really important, but your title is slightly off.)

It's amazing how much healthier you are. You never would have been able to post this on your blog a while back. Congratulations.

Bridget said...

This would be one of your best, Kate. Bravo for putting it down.

Julia said...

*Hug*

gkgirl said...

{{hugs}}

LiLu said...

I have in no way accepted the fact that the people I love will die. In fact, I'm pretty sure I will have a complete mental breakdown when it happens for the first time.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Death scares me and I fear my own - will it hurt? will it be quick? will I be an old woman and have spent enough (is there ever enough?) time with my son and daughter?

I went to a few funerals last year and it was few too many for me.

Summer said...

*hug* and a small peck on your cheek.

O'Mama said...

Mrs. Chili is currently being with her mother in her mom's last weeks? months? and I have learned so much from the grace with which her mom is facing her death. Of course that's Chili's MOM, not Chili herself, who will have to continue on afterward, coping the best way she can, Her mom taught her that this isn't it, there's more beyond and that while all you get to keep are the memories and the lessons, death is such a valuable part of life. Which sucks.
That was a beautiful post and my heart hurts for you and the pain that is still so raw. But kudos to you for writing about it, for continuing to try to make sense of it all.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Wow, Kate. What a deep, pain filled post. Fuck. What a deep, pain filled life. You are incredible for not only living it. But, being able to so beautifully express it when the darkness seeps into your life.

Sparkling Red said...

I wish for you to find as much courage as you need, and grace to spare.

f.B said...

GB is right: it has to happen.

But I don't know about all the balance it's supposed to provide. I think making life and death opposites is what really hurts us. Just like life can mean so many things for any one of us, death is probably the same way: it doesn't have to be a curse and it doesn't have to be relief. Maybe if we just think of it as a fact, as something that will happen, we'll get more control over it? Maybe then we can start to believe that it, as life, is what we make it?

I dunno. But this was a great post. And I hope the pain and hurt fade for you.

Kristen said...

I love, love, love that quote from Dylan Thomas.

Beautiful.

JoLee said...

here is a big fat hug from me to you... use it whenever you need it, darling. xoxoxoxooxoxoox

Anonymous said...

Kate, I'm sorry for your ongoing struggle with life but I think you and some of your commenters are very harsh when it comes to judging people who try their best to say the right thing when it comes to offering condolences. When you, yourself, are in that position where you need to come up with some words of comfort and support, do you always do it perfectly? Because if you do, you're the only one. Please give people a break...they're trying to help, while at the same time feeling overwhelmingly inadequate. The fact that you get angry when their words come out sounding trite and unhelpful says something much more negative about you than it does about them. Be kind.

Kate said...

And therein my friend, lies the misunderstanding. You presume that I want to be angry with people for trying to help, or think less of them because of it. I do not. I want for everything in the world that their words will take away some of the pain. They do not. Which is why as Jeff said, I do not indeed punch them in the face. I smile and nod, thank them politely for their condolences and think twice about what I say in situations like that from that moment on.