Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Invictus II

Some days are good.  I wake up, get the kids to school, go to work, pick them up after school.  Then I nag the boys to practice the piano and finish their homework.  We have fun together sometimes.  We drink hot chocolate, and watch movies, and play games, and wrestle in the big bean bags in the basement, and read together before bed.  Many days are good. 

But some days it is all I can do to keep from flying apart.  Something sets off a trigger, and sadness and pain wash over me like a tidal wave.  The intensity is the same as it was the day Mat died – higher because now I truly know what I have lost – but now there is no one grieving with me.  For everyone else, it’s been 21 months.  For me, my soul is being torn in half right now.

When this happens it helps to get it out, and then I do everything I can to pull myself back together.  I have no choice – my kids have only one parent.  Sometimes my outlet is screaming in the car where no one else can hear me.  Sometimes it’s putting on my old running shoes and pounding up the hill next to my house – the best sledding hill for miles – hoping to trade physical pain for the emotional pain that feels so much worse.  I run up the hill hoping to make myself throw up.  No luck. Try again. Again. Again.

I’m listening to a song, a modern-day version of “Invictus” (a horrifying comparison on literary grounds, but better for playing on an iPod while running).  It’s “The Fighter,” by Gym Class Heroes:

Until the referee rings the bell, until both your eyes start to swell,
Until the crowd goes home, what we gonna do y’all?

Give ‘em hell.  Turn their heads, gonna live life ‘til we’re dead.
Give me scars, give me pain.
Then they’ll say to me (say to me, say to me),
There goes the fighter, there goes the fighter.
Here comes the fighter.
That’s what they’ll say to me (say to me, say to me),
This one’s a fighter.

Some days this motivates me to keep going.  (It also makes me want to take up boxing.)

When I can’t get away to scream or cry or run it’s worse.  Then I have to count backwards from 10,000 by seven.  I’m not good at doing math in my head, so it requires a lot of concentration.  This is key to distancing myself from the emotions that otherwise will not stay tamped down.

When you see me next, I will most likely be fine.  I will be thinking the same thoughts you’re probably thinking. ‘What should I make for dinner?’ or ‘Is there any hope at all for the Red Sox next season?’ or ‘Hello, Mary Ellen, the eighties are calling.  They want their mom jeans back.’

But if I look deep in concentration, and maybe I’m even moving my lips a little, then what I’m thinking is, “Seven thousand nine hundred and ninety eight, seven thousand nine hundred and ninety one, seven thousand nine hundred and eighty four …”


EmilyCC said...

Both your post and the song are poetic reminders about the persistent and interminable emotions of grief.

Jodi and Jesse said...

You are a gifted writer. Your words make your pain tangible to me. I wish there was something I could do for you. No bandaids big enough for emotional pain. I love you and am so grateful to know you.

Rachel Morrow said...

Where'd you get the idea to count backwards?! I've also been fascinated with boxing. Do you have the Kathy Smith boxing video? I'm so sorry you are struggling with unimaginable grief, but so glad that you have found outlets to release some of the pain. Love ya! I'll keep praying . . .

Anonymous said...
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SLP said...

I was singing the song right along with you!
I think the act of getting up each day to face it all - and to face it alone - happens only with persistence.
Wish I were there to hold your hand...
Love ya,

Jennifer said...

I know exactly how you feel.

There is something about year 2. The realization that this is it, this is your life now and thats not changing.

I have also found that talking about Dave makes people uncomfortable because they don't know how to respond. Sometimes you just want to remember how much fun you had and people think they need to comfort you....Im sure you know what I mean.

It was strange when I realized that although I know people miss him they didn't love him the way I did so they aren't grieving as intensely as I am still.

This whole grieving thing really is just the worst.

Emily said...

That's funny that you're counting backwards by seven. It's part of some neurological test to count backwards by 7 starting from 100; Scott did this test on a bunch of patients while on a stroke rotation to access brain function. You can take some comfort in knowing that your brain is still in tact. :)

We love you!

Roger and Candi Merrill said...

Oh my gosh. I just stumbled upon your blog by accident. My husband has been fighting leukemia for 8 years and it most likely losing the battle now. I have been wondering how I am going to deal with losing him, aware that others want to do something, say something...but there is nothing they can say that will help. I don't know - haven't gone through that part of the journey yet. I think all we can do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Our blog is The Bone Marrow Boogie. http://bonemarrowboogie.blogspot.com/
I realize that reading our blog might take you back and that might not be a good thing. Thanks for writing yours.