Sunday, February 20, 2022

A Crazy Purple Bus...

 Grief is forever changing. Just when I think I have it figured out, Bam! Its back. I don't know if its a *healing* thing? or if its just the nature of grief. 

I was feeling overwhelmed as I was planning what the heck I was going to do with my day. I have a million things I should be doing. I should be organizing, and I should be laundering. And yet, I just wanted to sleep. Actually what I really wanted to do was go on a trip in my mind. I wanted to visit my old life. 

I pondered this question for a few moments. Being an intuitive, I figured ya know? I could probably really do this. So I closed my eyes and I pictured the living room of my old house. With the rug on the floor and the big couch with the fluffy cushions. This should have been an easy to do. Considering I lived in that house for almost 20 years. But... it wasn't.  I couldn't see the living room like it was when Pete was alive. I took a deep breath, and tried again. It was like being a part of one of those flip books with the pictures in the corners. I could see it for a second and then it flipped back to how it was after he died. I could hold onto the carpet and the toys all over the living room, then blink.. And I was back to the dark hardwood floor with the brown rug. What the hell? Thanks trauma brain. 

The memory I wanted was Pete and I sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon watching football. However, it wasn't just football he would watch. No, no. He would switch between football and auto racing. It used to drive me a little batty. (I know what you're thinking.. that I was already batty. Ha!)  I wanted to sit on that couch with him and lie my head in his lap as the white noise of the crowd from the game or race filled the background. I would usually fall asleep to that sound. But it was the best nap. No anxiety over what I should have been doing. No kids yet to drag me away, just the two of us, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.  But, I couldn't get my brain or my memory to pull it forward long enough to have a conversation with him. It was only a glimpse.  I can see it, and I can hear it, but its off a little bit. I see the couch but with the hardwood floors not carpet. I see the Tv cabinet and the Tv is on. But the coffee table isn't the same, and the color of the walls are different. 

This is the part of healing that makes me want to run around yelling. I have done the work. I have been terrified, I have been scared out of my mind, but I have held it together. I have done the prolonged exposure (PE therapy) I have put my timeline back together. I mean I have one blank spot but other than that, most of it is back together. I have some missing memories when it comes to my youngest and those first few months of his life, well and even some years of the other two as well. But that's besides the point. The point was, I did the stuff that was supposed to help move the memories to the part of the brain that could digest the information. I created the roads in the construction areas where there was no road. All in hopes that healing my brain, my memories of my life with him, would come back. But, they haven't. At least, not like I thought they would. I can remember, but I can't. I can see it clearly but not clear enough. I don't want a snippet I want the whole thing. I don't know, maybe I don't need the whole thing. But I want the whole thing. 

Its in these peeks from the past that I think to myself. What the heck was the point? I did all that work. I cried, I raged, (ya know, I don't do anything half way.)  I begged and I spent a lot of time being mad that Pete left me here. In all actuality its not like he could have taken me with him or that he could have made his body work. He had to go, and I had to stay. But that didn't make it any easier to get through. It was me that had to tell the kids, it was me that had to face the fear, it was me that had to do the internal work to come out on the other side.  Like everything else along the way, I have learned to take a step back and see the whole picture. And really that's a big, cloudy, mud splattered, tear streaked window, to look through.  In reality the glimpse of clarity is better than the big fuzzy blobs roaming around my memories.    

Yet, I still find myself asking my brain, what about the memory, the whole memory of us on the couch?  To which I answer I guess its like getting on the bus that takes you from the carport parking lot to the airplane terminal. its only a snippet of life. Which reminds me of the story about the cab driver who picks up an elderly woman to take her to hospice. She asks the cab driver to take the most scenic route to her destination. Along the way she talks to the driver while she points out the house she was born in, the school she graduated from, the restaurant her husband took her to on their first date. The church they got married in, the hospital where she had her children, and the cemetery where her husband was buried.  Its no wonder that being a widow at the ripe age of 30 I often felt like I was an old woman. And like her, I had lived my life. ( or so I thought) It was a good life, but so short too.  At the time I didn't know anyone my age who had dealt with this type of grief, except for my grandmother, and she was 87. I used to tell people I was 107 and that I looked pretty good for being 107. However my grandmother was the beginning of my journey of healing.  I will forever be grateful to her for the things she taught me. 

At the end of the day, I could choose to let my loss, trauma, and heartbreak, make me bitter. I could choose to be mad at the world for the crazy shit they said to me, for the way they treated me, and for some of the ways they were sure I would fail.  I could choose to stay angry at Pete and at God. Hell, I could choose to be irate at my brain for processing things the way it has. Or I could choose to be grateful for the life I had with him. the joy of watching him be a dad and the way he delighted in being a family together.  I can choose to thank my brain for the work that its done to heal. I can choose to thank my heart for the way it has sewn itself back together. Even though there is a jagged scar down the middle. I choose to be grateful for life that has come from that healing. For me, I choose to be joyful in the glimpse of that memory even if it has taken 10 years to remember it.

 So instead of waiting until I am an actual old woman riding in that cab. I choose to get in my own purple colored bus with red sparkles. (Because everyone needs one, and its my bus) I will walk to the giant plush chair onboard, sit down, grab a cup of coffee that's waiting for me and look out my window. As the driver starts the bus I will watch out my magical window and marvel at the glimpses that come in. Brief moments in time. bubbles in the air as we drove in that yellow mustang, a bite of cake.  Sidewalk chalk drawings that Pete drew for the kids, a two tone truck in the driveway, a ruby on my necklace, earrings that he made me, a sketch imprinted in rock. I sigh and hold onto Hope, that someday I will have more than just a moment. I will have the whole Crazy memories, of life.