6 weeks after Frank’s death

Today was my most difficult grief day so far – 6 weeks after Frank passed. The darkened clouds gathered early in the morning – and the day went along – cloudy and somber. It was feria day (market day) and I found I was feeling afraid to go. Fear. What is this thing of fear? Why afraid? I was suddenly afraid that someone would say something and pierce my heart more deeply than it could bear. It wasn’t that they would say something about Frank. It was that they wouldn’t say anything about him – and the idle chatter of the feria, the talk of a party coming up, the mention of something celebrational – the hum and banter of living and life uninterrupted …. At home I could protect myself. At the feria I might not be able to.

I poured my heart out on Facebook, which felt safe to do. My ‘friends’ on FB would treat me carefully or ignore me. And they did.

I began with this quote by C.S. Lewis

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I posted:

I’m afraid to go to the feria though I love going to the feria. I don’t want it all to be about me – but I cannot bear it to be all about eggplants or mangoes or parties. I just want a warm, very real hug and for people not to give up on me. I’m doing the best I can to learn this new role of griever. survivor. widow. bereaved. mourner. I ask for your continued support.

The responses came in…

  • Sending you a long distance virtual hug, from a very real friend, Jan. XO
  • Jan, it hasn’t been that long since I’ve come out from under a big, dark rock. So your posts are so very real to me. That nervousness, the churning of the stomach, the need to walk, be up and about, even the distain for talk radio (because life is so normal for them), and the dreams. Oh, the dreams…I send my love.
  • You have it, Jan. You’re on a long road. I wrote someone yesterday, about grief and time, that memories don’t leave – they stay sweet, but pain does fade away. Imperceptibly, which is the way it’s supposed to be.
  • No one is giving up on you,you just need all the time you need. “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohn. If all you can do is sit in your room,do so, try to move to the porch,then take a walk around your house. Poco a poco. May you be free.
  • of course, continued support. …..reaching for the next best feeling, even if the next best is still kind of crappy or sad. Sending positives to you every day.

The words soothed and I felt supported, even a bit sheepish about reaching out so publicly. But the distaste of hiding was even worse than the potential public embarassment.

I went to the feria and in spite of my fears and the only people who approached me were genuinely willing to hug. I left as quietly as I arrived.

At Bazookas I met a good friend who I had arranged to have lunch with. Our talk was clarifying for us each. She asked me if I had faith and my answer was, ‘faith in what?’ I just don’t know. I don’t right now see a purpose in all of this. Is that what faith is about? Just accepting that everything happens for a reason and having faith that even though I cannot and others cannot see any good reason for a person so appreciated having to suddenly leave without saying goodbye, in the relative prime of his life – I’m to have faith that it is just right. That somehow ‘God’ or some other Deity took him for some reason that I can’t fathom and I’m asked to just have faith that it is just as it is supposed to be?. And how does that juxtapose to the long lives of some of the most malicious human beings – who work tirelessly to invade, denigrate, despise and even murder others?

In the end all we could say was, ‘we don’t know.’ And there was something almost comforting in not knowing. Not knowing was better than feeling punished.

Back at home I still felt alone. I felt that Frank was not here anymore. There were no flickering lights or ‘imagined’ glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye. There was no sudden appearance of his wedding ring in the little black enameled box next to my bed. I felt he had gone and the despair of his departure with a feeling of abandonment swept over me.

I laid down on my bed to watch some mindless TV – and play Sudoku on my kindle. Often Frank and I would laughingly ‘test’ our minds with how well we were doing in Sudoku and I found to my surprise that I was able to do the most difficult Level 5 games with relative ease. So my mind was working.. Why was I not able to change my way of looking at things right now?

Relief came when I opened my Kindle to No death, No fear by Thich Nhat Hanh, A Buddhist monk. The part that appeared when I turned on the Kindle was Chapter 4 Transforming Grief and Fear. I read the invitation to look more deeply. My interest was piqued. He said that we must recognize that the true nature of all of us is impermanence – he called it a place of no birth, no death, no coming, no going. Each of us undergoes transformation. The chapter’s description of the birth of a cloud was beautifully relevant and astonishingly clear.

One could love the cloud as one first saw it – white, puffy and beautiful in the blue sky. But one could also see that the form of the cloud is impermanent. One has to be very careful about becoming attached to a cloud as it is in its form of that first moment. It can transform into vapor or rain and then be difficult to recognize. But it is still there.

Suddenly a shift. I felt that Frank was still here, too – in different forms. A breeze. the steady gaze of my parrot, Sage. A bird flying very close by. I thought about all the many ongoing conversations Frank and I had about quantum physics and saw the parallel. We are all energy. We are all connected. Our connectedness can change into new forms but it cannot be destroyed, even through death.

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”― Albert Einstein