The title of my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir almost tells you that there is going to be an ending in the story. And what I tried to focus on as I wrote was the little things that happened between my husband Sy and me as well as events around us that created our Love Story. Some of it has to do with the character of the people involved but much of it is just the nitty-gritty of two people living with five daughters all champing at the bit to be grown up and doing life their way.
Then we come to the end of the story and yet the story goes on in a different time and space. I don’t have to tell you that a sudden unexpected death was like some great force had taken my beautiful rug, called home, and torn it out from under me. An incident that you will read about in Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long Term Illness tells of me at the age of six having to go to the big city every three months to be checked over and to have blood drawn to ensure the doctors that I was indeed recovering from the Rheumatic Fever. This particular time the doctor was to
draw the blood and when he inserted the needle he caught the vein in my arm crosswise and the pain was excruciating and yet I didn’t cry. He pulled the needle back, apologized profusely, and tried again. By this time my arm was burning and aching. But I didn’t cry. Afterwards everyone told me how brave I was and I think that imprinted me with the message that I shouldn’t cry no matter how bad the pain. As a therapist I know otherwise but sometimes those old childhood lessons are stronger. So I didn’t cry much when Sy died. I anguished inside and then set to work trying to put my world back into some order. The fact that I wasn’t able to cry and flush my emotional system has driven a lot of that heart pain into my body, so that I’m in pain most days.
For about four months after he died I didn’t feel him anywhere around me. It was just a void; but then gradually I started to talk to his picture on the night stand beside where I sleep. I’d cry some but then move on to an accounting of the day’s events just as we used to talk at coffee time. One night when Annie, our youngest daughter was staying over with me to get me back “in order” and sleeping in the guest room, she called to me. “Are you talking to Dad?”
“Yes,” I answered a bit sheepishly.
And she responded, “I thought so because he hasn’t blinked my light, tonight.” (I knew she was referring to the fact that both my mother and Sy, who have passed over, will blink a light in my house whenever they want us to know that they have come for a visit. And they don’t use the same lights! I believe I’ve talked about this phenomenon in an earlier blog.)
Each day was filled with the have-to-does, groceries, meals, laundry, letters, and you name it. The pain in my mid-section didn’t go away and I questioned most everything I was doing or was going to have to do: Thanksgiving, first Christmas in a new home, dessert hour for my new neighbors, my daughter’s second wedding, the sources of money, the getting his will probated and the list goes on. By the time I’d gotten almost to that first year anniversary of his death I think the numbness was wearing off and the depression was coming. That’s why I started to write the book, to give me company in the old memories and to give Robbie, the youngest grandson, a grandfather he could hold onto as an adult. Actually it has given all of my children and grandchildren back their father and grandfather. Felicia, next to the youngest daughter, said to me yesterday, “Yeah, I’ve been reading the book, a little at a time, and it is so good to have Sy back even if it is only for a moment.”
But with all of these efforts and the struggles to get the book published and out to the public the pain had moved to the heart and was a low muddy river riding along at the bottom of my heart. I’ve thought about, I’ve even written about, what would happen to that heart if someone else should step into my life and I knew that the river would continue to flow, maybe a brook, but still there. I’m not one to take medication unless it is absolutely necessary and so I assumed that this would be the condition for the rest of my life.
Because I am associated with Hay House Publishers I get in my email most every promotion of an author or a person doing a workshop, or a health care product and some I look into and others I pass over. About three months ago, now, I got
promotional material from a Bill Harris, founder of Centerpointe, in Oregon, offering me a chance to listen to his musical CD’s that were programmed to create new pathways in the brain and gradually help me to change my behaviors that were not really working well. In a sense his CD’s help the right and left hemisphere of the brain to begin talking back and forth. He promised all sorts of changes and like always I said “Yeah, Right!!” But I signed up for his first set of CD’s and started listening. About three weeks into doing this daily routine I was putzing around the house doing my chores and I thought, “The pain in my heart; where is it? The pain has gone!!” And then I did another “Yeah! Right! Let’s wait until tomorrow.” And I checked in the next day and it was gone. Small wonder! Then I had the fear that I was going to forget Sy but that has not proven to be the case. Apparently my brain has recognized that grieving endlessly even if I’m doing it silently isn’t helping me. And I’m the one that is still alive and here on earth wrestling with the everyday. So I might as well begin to have fun with my situation.
I’m sharing this with you because you have to know that all of us grieve differently. There is sometimes a song, or a picture or a place or one of my children saying to me “Wear it well,” when I have bought a new piece of clothing, and I hear Sy’s voice and have to fight back the tears—just for a moment. Some people cry and moan, some get sick, some get angry at everyone most especially themselves; and those of you that are surrounding this person or are there yourself need to remember we all grieve differently and in our own time. I shared my experience with a girlfriend last week who lost her husband a few years before me and she looked at me and said. “Well, it’s been almost four years for you, and the pain should be easing up.” I didn’t know there was a timeline and I really feel that the Holosync CD’s have played a large part in the change. Bless the creator of this material.
If you wish, you can share your own grief story with me. Please do. I know the drill!!