Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Eye of the storm

The last 6 days have been okay. Thirty nine days, now. We're slowly feeling our way to a new normal.

I know intellectually that I need to create new routines. All the books say so, and I so don't want to blow it, right? Okay. New routines, I know, yup, need that. This is a vastly different thing from being able to do anything of the kind. Dinner time is gradually settling into something different, now: I prepare food for all four of us and we sit down and eat around 5:30 or so. What we used to do was similar, but I'd usually wait until Steve got home to fix something for the two of us--actually it'd have to be a pretty extreme situation for me not to do that. Enter Extreme Situation. So we don't have a quasi-Victorian kids eating kid dinner, followed by grownups eating grownup dinner a couple of hours later. We have three kids and not-very-hungry adult eating at the same time. So as to make sure we do the eating thing.

I'm using the time I have in not-total-breakdown to do some things that I need to do. The two younger kids and I went and bought pumpkins on Sunday, while oldest stayed home to (ahem) write an essay due later that day (cough, cough). I suggested we get a pumpkin for Dad, too, and maybe some flowers. They loved the idea. I've been going to the grave a couple of times a week, at least, since we buried him; these two, however, hadn't been yet. Trying not to hold my breath, trying to be matter of fact, we chose some pumpkins for the front of the house, and a pumpkin for Dad. They wondered if we should carve it; yes, darlings, of course we can. Let's just wait 'til a little closer to Halloween.

So they finally got to see their dad's grave this weekend. Middle child was mildly shocked that there wasn't a headstone. I explained that we had to buy one and order it and get it carved; did she have any ideas about what would be good? She did, indeed.

So today I ordered a headstone.

Yes, it makes me cry to think that sentence.

I'm going to have to call tomorrow because I was so tightly in control, so completely focussed on not losing it, that I forgot I'd wanted to have "beloved" on it, in addition to his name and dates. Crap. But okay.

I think that was the last awful thing that I had to do. All the other stuff is more indirect: sorting out legalities, filling in forms (although that can clobber me, too, all those "deceased" "name of deceased" "deceased" "surviving spouse" God help me, that of course is making me cry, too), the tiny healing adaptations of day to day life with one very important person missing. There are these small miracles of not being in pain, of laughing, and I'm grateful for them all.

We had a spiffy time at a Halloween party this weekend. Lots of running around, also the obligatory Deep and Serious Teenager Communing, and (bonus!) I got to rant a little bit about politics, one of those normal things about a normal day that I used to do. So maybe that's a not-every-day thing but still a relatively simple thing. Okay. Little bits, gradually falling into place.

The books do also say "after you've had a break, your grief will come back with a vengeance and you will be pissed off and convinced that you're losing your mind," so I guess I have that to look forward to (!). For now, small but deep gratitude not to be in that place just yet.

There's probably room for another book, one for the next generation of widows. I dunno, but for me, "What am I without a man" means something very different. I'm not busy claiming my personhood while I do all this stuff. The personhood is taken as read, n'est-ce pas? Oui. (pause as random phrases from college French piddle out my other ear) (oh, lordy, here comes the Laurie Anderson: vas sint der paranormalen troombunchschtimmen? ist und schtimmen...now the accordion, oh god...)

I made middle child some pirate pants yesterday. Somebody is very excited about her costume. We went shopping in the morning, picked out suitable material, and went home and I dug out a pattern that I had for some reason or other (cough, stash, cough) for pajamas, and winged it from there. Presto: happy child. A pleasure any way you look at it.

In the ray of sunshine department--hey, that's two! three, if you count the pumpkins! four, cool party!--I sent off a small parcel to my Secret Pal. This is the 9th SP exchange, and the first one for which I have managed to sign up at the proper time and be in on the fun. So shhh, and here's hoping that I'm not the little black raincloud in the corner by the time the exchange is over with and my giftee doesn't have to read quite so much awfulness when she finally finds out Who Her Secret Pal Is (dum dum dum) (this is me doing a dramatic musical flourish; use your imagination).


Blogger Julie said...

It's nice to hear a glimmer of light on your end. I've been reading but had no clue what to say. I miss the days of making Halloween costumes. The last was only a few years ago, a sort of Gandalf style robe with a hood that still hangs in the youngest boy's closet.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Lucia said...

It sounds like things are getting a little easier, a little brighter. Thanks be for that. Please make sure you do the eating thing. I'm still sending good thoughts.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Carole said...

You definitely sound better. New routines and all that stuff help, I'm sure. And the part about the grief coming back with a vengeance I have found to be very true. I belonged to an online support group after my mom died and we called it "sneaky grief." Just when you're doing good and feeling better the grief comes back and bites you in the ass. It sucks, I'll tell ya. But at least you're aware that it will happen. Hugs, Liz.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Erica said...

New routines are a good step; it sounds like things are settling the tiniest bit. Just remember to take care of yourself, okay?

9:06 AM  
Blogger Jena the yarn harpy said...

It's nice to see that things are lightening up a little bit for you and the kids. I think you had it just right... developing the "new normal".
You have a perfect instinct for what your kids need and you have always fulfilled that to the best of your ability. I don't doubt that the best thing for them in this recovery process is for things to occur by your instincts.
Don't forget to throw in some time for your own needs, too.


12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as the person spoiling you for Secret Pal 9, I am quite certain that the person whom you are spoiling will adore you within minutes of findng your blog, just as I have.

How can I say this...? As much as your current chapter in life breaks my heart, at the same time it warms me that so many people have said how much they love you in your comments. Nobody gets that much love unless they send that much out; I'm sure that your spoilee will think of you not as the little black raincloud, but as an amazing and strong and beautiful person.

Wishing you all the best,
Your SP9 pal.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

I stopped by your blog last night for the first time in a while. I am deeply, deeply sorry to hear about the giant rift in your life. It is hard to imagine that it is a reality. I am glad to hear that you are embracing life while grieving. I wish you much warmth and strength.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Shafira said...

I'm a new reader (came by trying to find who may be my SP9 spoiler) and I just needed to say that you are in my thoughts and will remain there. I don't want to make you cry (again?) so I'll leave it at that. Much support coming from a stranger. -- Anne.

12:47 PM  

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