Tuesday, May 27, 2014


This comes from Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies:
All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.

I am already grieving although the man who loves me is still among us. Today he ate half-dozen bites of watermelon, a strawberry, two or three walnut halves, the tips of fork tines coated with almond butter, and a thimble of latté. Oh, and two bites of chocolate ice cream. He told me a dream, and I tried to hang onto to it, but lost it. Or most of it. He was involved in a project, he said. In the first try at the project he was disconnected from everyone, and then in a different dream (or was it the same dream and just a different project?) everyone was working together......on something. It's hard to focus on words. There's the hum and hiss of the oxygen machine. And the place has its resident screamer. I don't think he hears her. But maybe he does. He and I have other things to talk about. The taste of morphine under the tongue. Sublingual. We talk about his dreams. His drugs. While I hear the  woman screaming down the hall, a woman we don't talk about. But a woman screaming down the hall Is a woman screaming down the hall. I hear the staff interacting with her.They're doing okay. She still screams. My only hope is that she's not in pain.

"You have to buckle up," my mother said to me tonight as I sat on the couch weeping. Buck up, I suppose, is the phrase she was after. A swing and a miss. Like so much of my communication with her these days. I was speaking to the man's sister on the phone. Is there anything I want from his apartment? Everything. Nothing. Him. Us. My mother told me and the man's daughter, who was sitting beside me on the couch, how her husband (my father) died standing up. Just like that he was dead. He only fell to the floor when she tried to move him. It was terrible, she said. It was.

"Are you going to the nursing home tonight?" she asked as she shook the last drops of martini into her glass. A swing and a miss. "Sure," the spiteful horrible grieving me wanted to say, "I'll leave you here stumbling and shuffling and go lie next to him." But I left those words under my tongue where they belong. Sublingual.


37paddington said...

Oh Denise. I can hardly fathom how hard all this must be. I am glad you weep and maybe buckle up is the right phrase after all because this is a not going to be an easy ride but you already know that and you also know not to hide your grief in a quiet room but to let it rage. He is worth all your grief. I'm so sorry.

Ms. Moon said...

Exactly what Angella said because she says it best.
I am sitting here in the Mexican darkness, I am thinking of you on the coast of California. I am wishing with all of my heart that I could hold your hand.
May his travels be merciful.
Loving you with a full heart.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you Denise but I read all your posts as well as Angella's and Mary's and Elizabeth's. My heart is so sad for you. You seem like you have so much to offer and yet you are sandwiched between these two people you love fiercely and are slowly losing. I can tell you are handling it as best as you can but are hurting so inside. I just want to say even strangers can love you from afar and send you prayers for peace and comfort and that is what I try to do each night. Sweet Jo

Elizabeth said...

Outrageous, Denise. All of it. I am pissed for you. I really am. I want to come out to your beach house and walk up and down that beach with you and just rant and rave and pull my hair out. We can wear dark dresses and laugh like maniacs, too. You will buckle up and you will buck up and you will be filled with the love that is you, that you've shown to everyone you meet and it WILL be enough for The Man Who Loves You and you will still have it. None of this makes sense -- I am just so heartbroken for you.

ain't for city gals said...

Grief can bring you to your knees and then some. Is there anyway you can get some to stay with your mom for a few days?

lily cedar said...

It's true, grief must be felt to lessen. And god it hurts and colors everything.

Elizabeth Harper said...

While I consider us modern day friends who have never met, who only know each other through the written word and shared photographs, my heart aches for you as if we have shared a million cups of coffee or walks along the different beaches of my home and yours.

I am so sorry you are in a place where you have to be divided into too many pieces. I really have no words except to say, " You stay in my thoughts and I wish there was something I could do to help."

Sending you hugs from across the sea.

Mel said...

I don't have the right words to offer. You write beautiful truths from a very difficult place, the hardest place. Unfair, every bit of it. You have already buckled up enough for a dozen people. Sometimes crying is the only option that makes sense. Sending you kind thoughts and love and sharing in your sorrow, that's the only option that makes sense to me right now.