Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It's been a year since Steve took his life

I have been dreading this week. I have been reliving memories of receiving the phone call from the coroner's office, breaking the news to my family and the dreadful slowness of sitting with searing pain.

My mother looks tiny these days--as if the year inserted a straw into her center and sipped at her life force every time Steve crossed her mind (and he crosses her mind all the time). She speaks of her own passing more than ever--what to do with her ashes and that she is sorry knowing it will fall to be and my sister to handle all the things in her house. I stay close, I listen, and I try to get her to at least use her walking stick (she really needs a walker).

Grief did strange things to me too. I wanted to be normal too fast. And while I was semi-conscious that I was efforting and braining my way through life, the caldron of my emotions bubbled under an unsteady lid ready to boil over. And when they boiled over, it wasn't just me who suffered the burns.

Grief set up little stations to catch my attention. She had a permanent position on Lawrence Exp. where I could see Steve's old apartment and the turn off I would take to pick him up for lunch at Mom's.

She was there at Mo's where I took Steve for breakfast on his last birthday.

She also clings most potently to a small container in my closet that contains the objects I collected from the coroner that Steve had in his pocket. The $40 in crisp $10 bills just feels so sad. That he didn't spend it. It looks like he had just got that money and $40 worth of living never made it out of him.

Throwing yourself into work is culturally seen as a brave thing to do to deal with grief. All the activity of the last year--my technology job, the book writing, taking on physical challenges, setting goals--none of it was therapeutic.

I thought my grief would just recede into background and normalcy would return. I honestly couldn't run fast enough to make that happen. Grief caught me when I stopped to take a breath.

I'm on a temporary moratorium on almost everything...challenges and goals be damned (for now).

I've been sharing this year along the way--partially because I want some company and partially because I want to slay any idea that grief is something that can be heroically (and neatly) endured and then bypassed. Parts of me died (and are dying) as I go through this. I'm still not done with this. I'm not the same woman I was 365 days ago.

One part that died what the compelling illusion that I could "save" anyone. No matter how may righteous seeming actions I might take, I cannot change a course someone else has chosen for them self. I don't regret any of the things I did to try to help Steven in his distress. What has been hard is knowing that there wasn't a magical blend of action that I could have chosen instead that would have "done the trick" by giving him a physical reality that would stand in for the emotional state he needed to stay in this world.

Grief will have her way with me--she has been having her way with me anyway. Only now I struggle less against her terrible tender hands.