Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The unberable lightness of being

It's not like I'm walking on sunshine and floating two feet off the ground or anything. But this morning it dawned on me that life is sort of good right now. Uncomplicated in a way it hasn't been in, well, in virtually my entire life, really.

We're not trying to have a baby anymore. So my body has ceased to be a science experiment/means to an end/poorly constructed baby-making machine. It's just my body again. Arms, legs, graying head and a busted uterus that can just fucking relax now, since it's not going to be called into action ever again.

If you listen closely, you can probably hear it sighing happily from all the way over there.

I pay little to no attention to bodily fluids. I have no idea what my temperature is on any given morning. I've stopped shelling out a fortune on sticks designed to be peed upon. I no longer mark the passage of time in 28-day units. I don't have to decide if just one more surgery or fertility treatment will do the trick. I no longer live in fear worrying about what one more loss would do to my already-fractured brain. And, perhaps best of all, the end of a cycle doesn't shatter me to my very core like it used to. Every single time.

People are no longer depending upon my body to produce a child, grandchild, cousin, niece/nephew. No one's crossing their fingers or praying or hoping or giving us knowing glances. The pressure cooker existence I once boiled away in has cooled to a lovely lukewarm bath.

The guilt is still there. It will always be there. I couldn't produce a living child, grandchild, niece/nephew. But at least the trying is over. We can all just agree that I failed and move on.

Or I can agree that I failed and everyone else can be mad at me for calling myself a failure.

Either way, we all move on.

And then there's the other shoe. The one that dropped on January 4, 2011 when I got the call that Dad had died. He got horribly sick (sicker than he'd ever been, which is saying a lot since he'd been in fragile health for 27 years), and after tenaciously battling a host of medical issues that would have immediately felled a lesser (or less stubborn) man, he quietly slipped away in the night.

I no longer panic when I hear the phone ring. I don't dwell on what it's going to be like "after" because I'm living it now. My stomach doesn't clench in anxiety when I pull up to their house. I don't have to wonder about what kind of day he's having - if he'll fall, if he'll die in front of me, if he'll be so confused he won't know who I am. I don't ache as I watch him suffer unthinkable fatigue, pain and indignities. Most of all, he is no longer suffering.

As I said yesterday, I am breathing these days. The good kind of breaths. Better than I've breathed in almost as long as I can remember.

My life is more about me than it has been in a very long time.

I'm not 100% carefree or without responsibility. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, here. But the fact is that I am living a more peaceful life right now. Work is plentiful enough, My Beloved is still beloved, my mom is in relatively good health, and I passed my annual physical with flying colours (which is astounding given the grief eating I did during 2011, not to mention all the stress).

Sorrow is still an ever present interloper, but it's a snarling beast I've mostly learned how to tame. I know to lure it into its cage when I need relief, and let it out to be walked when it needs to stretch its legs.

We have it mostly figured out, me and Sorrow.

So life is just...life these days. Quieter, less complicated and much prettier than I've seen it in a very long time.

I could get used to this.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The long goodbye

The other day I read an article about the formalized mourning rituals observed by Jews. Being married to someone who is half Jewish, I'm familiar with some of those rituals - like sitting Shiva for 7 days, and the unveiling of the monument one year later.

But what I didn't know is that they understand that that grief takes a solid year to truly process. They figured this out, wrote it down, handed it out and now they all just know to treat each other a little more gently when the heart is healing post-loss. Imagine that.

It has now been one year and five days since my dad died.

Losing Thomas taught me that you don't get over a loss, you simply learn to live with it. So I knew I wouldn't magically feel like "the old me" when the sun rose on January 5th. I knew I would feel like the new me: the one who now lives in a world where my dad does not. The one who lost someone whose voice has been dear to her since before she was even born. But the one who is, nonetheless, still alive.

That's why I also knew I'd probably feel like I could take real breaths again on January 5th. Long, slow, deep ones - not just short, quick gasps designed to keep me alive.

And I did.

The hellish first year is behind me.

And I can breathe.