31 March 2012

This morning during strong sitting, I felt the other side of a divide. I have been there for some time, a small time, but only noticed it today.

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

And like an amputee, the widowed left does not really heal, does not forget that she once had two arms to accomplish all of her tasks, but she does in time compensate. Writes with the other hand, opens a jar holding it between her knees while the remaining hand twists. There comes the day when the amputee is close to fully functional and pity turns to wonder in other people’s eyes. For herself, she has survived amputation and for moments each day forget that there was such a time when she had two arms.

I have those moments now. I am not as much of a couple as I was. More and more of me believes that I am alone. I work towards strength and competency. My self-talk is like the little engine’s, my plans begin with “I.” And decisions. Decisions are still not easy but there is a history now that they have, for better or worse, been made. There is precedence and the lawyer in me loves precedence. Loves taking the most conservative route to the answer. The answer is that I am surviving. I change out sponges without reminder. And there are now pictures of me smiling. Proof that I am choosing tomorrow even if I must be alone.

How amazing it is to bind yourself to another person so intimately that death is an amputation. What power this love. How awesome its complexities.

I tell you, there are still parts of me that lives each day to be over and to be lost in the oblivion of sleep. When sleep comes. But those parts are smaller and take up less time. There are days that I fill with meaningful tasks that I take up with relish, if not always in happiness.

The summer that David died, we had been planning to go to three weddings. I bought a beautiful purple dress and I couldn’t wait to wear it. It seemed like years since I had been dressed up. Dressed up for David. Gosh, that was in my head. We never made the first wedding. I wore the dress to David’s memorial. I wore the dress in stubborn statement of my continued life to the other two weddings, each one far enough away to require planned travel. No one said that the dress was beautiful or that I looked lovely.

I thought of that the other day, and somehow forgetting death and grief and mourning, I wondered how the dress looked on me. If it looked good. If it fit and flattered. And I felt the insecurity of possibly choosing to wear something that was not appropriate for me at all. Something that I did not look good wearing.

I felt embarrassed.

And then, I had to laugh out loud to myself! Good? Lovely? Fit? Flatter? I was in those first days of death. The first months. My outsides and insides were in shambles. I looked, in jeans or in a ball gown, my worst. I was at my worst.

Should I wear the dress again this summer. Last summer I avoided it. Should I give it to St. Vinnie’s.

I’ve sorted through all of the cast off toys in the basement. I have a trash bag full of stuffed animals for the yard sale, and so much more. I will have a large tub to save -- Cheshire’s American Girl doll, the baby doll that Julia rejected (twice), two of my own childhood dolls, my china tea set, plastic animals, plastic people/characters. I’ve set old puzzles and games for the sale, saving only one puzzle of Cheshire’s that I’ve always loved. Is this for grandchildren?

I have not worked on the photos with gusto this week. I’ve worked around the edges of piles and discovered what I could do with them, but the meat of the matter is overwhelming. I turn from it for a few days and then will dig in. I move back and forth between the photos and chrono file in the dining room and the boxes of the basement. I nibble more than bite, and work in circles. The electronic cords, connectors, and components, together with cameras, chargers, lenses, and cases call, but there are drawers full of tools. Did we bring them all? I never paid attention. David did not by any means collect tools. Tools were just that, utilitarian devices that were bought and used but not savored. I think that my father savored tools. Is that a man’s man sort of thing? I can understand the savoring. For David and for myself, those things were books and the damned paper that I’ve complained over and over about weeding through. I do not look forward to sorting tools but they should be easier than the paper. I will keep what I can use in the garden and a few for “my” tool box -- the red metal box that David used to store important papers and that I have under the sink with the hammer, wrench, nails, and few other things that I know that I can use. Should I be saving the socket wrench? I cannot imagine being confident using it. I will save a few small hand saws but only because I think I will use them in the garden. Interesting the chores that I choose to take on and the ones that totally intimidate me or that I have absolutely no interest in learning. As a younger person, I believed that I should have an interest in most everything that touched my living. I find that that idea is no longer present. I don’t know when I stopped thinking that way -- maybe it started when I was pregnant with Cheshire and read that pregnant women should not clean the cat litter.

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