In Her Time of Dying: Grief and Other Things

It’s a brand new year, according to my calendar. It’s hard to believe that 2011 is over and 2012 has begun.

I commented on Twitter on New Year’s Eve (when I was a little intoxicated) how tired I was of saying so many sad and negative things. Of FEELING so many sad and negative things. Everyone responds pretty much the same way: “don’t apologize! We’re here for you!” which is awesome, but I still hate feeling so much sadness. And it’s like I can’t rein it in; I have to share it and vocalize it, and that drives me nuts. I’ve never been one to mope and groan and vent my woes to the world. I try to keep it to myself, because I just am not a big believer on sharing my negativity and misery with the world. But this feels different. It’s like I have this overwhelming urge to tell every person I meet the pain I’m in, the things I’ve seen. I don’t actually do that, of course, but I still have the urge when someone asks me how I’m doing to just blurt out the events of the past week and a half while they stand there, uncomfortable and blinking.

I was watching a preview for the movie The Descendants, which looks good but at the same time, had me rolling my eyes. I guess in the movie a mother gets into an accident that leaves her comatose, leaving her two children and husband having to make decisions about turning off her life support. I watched the preview of the movie, complete with its touchy feel-y scenes with tears and emotional soundtrack. Hugs, and running across the beach, and emotional revelations and whatnot. All I could think was, “that’s not how it is. That’s not how loss, and making those decisions feels. There is no soundtrack to accompany you, no warm fuzzy moments of family togetherness and bonding. It’s just death, and heartbreak. It doesn’t look like that.”

It’s odd to have had the experience where I know what real death looks like. I wasn’t there at the end, but I was there in the last half hour. Real death is terrifying, unsettling, and something I wonder if I’ll ever get out of my head.

Hi, my name is Natalie and I’m here to be a total downer on your day. Ugh. Sorry.

I got really drunk on New Year’s Eve. It felt similar to when my due date came with the first baby and I got crazy-drunk and cried all night. Except unlike the due date incident, there was no feeling of relief with this one. When I got that drunk on green bean’s due date, when I awoke the next morning there was a feeling that I was okay, that I had begun healing. That something lodged in my heart had been dug out; and that I was beginning to get better. There was no feeling of that this time. The grief is still with me, lurking behind good days and moments, waiting to slink out from the shadows and wrap itself around me.

I went back and read my mom’s old LiveJournal entries from years ago and it made me so sad. She was so unhappy and (sorry, mom) crazy. I kept reading entry after entry and shaking my head. Her mental illness is splashed all over the words of those digital pages. I felt such immense pity and sadness for her it was overwhelming. At the end of her life, she was a physical mess. She only had half her fingers. She had lymph-edema in her legs. Many of her teeth were cracked and missing. Her skin was jaundiced. I saw a photo of her as a baby; maybe one year old or so and it made me sob. She was just like any healthy baby; smiling, chubby, whole. I wanted to reach into that picture and protect that child from all of the heartache, pain, and sorrow that she was going to have to endure in her short life.

I had a really good day on Saturday with Josh and Nellie. It was gorgeous outside. We took a long walk downtown and I actually felt good. Josh asked me how I was doing that day and I told him honestly: I feel okay. Fine, almost. I asked him if that was weird, seeing as how it had only been three days since mom’s death. He told me of course not; that’s the funny thing about grief. It does that lurking thing. Some days you will be consumed by it, unable to think of anything else. Other days you will feel as though nothing happened.

Oh, grief. U so crazy.

I’m working today, though I’m not sure for how long. As long as I feel up to it, I guess. I never thought I’d be in a place where just working seemed like an insurmountable effort. I can’t even explain the feeling, but the thought of doing mundane things and answering e-mails and questions feels so hard.

I’m calling the grief counselor tomorrow. I’m ready to work through this shit.