At 6 a.m I’m awake . I hate this. My brain has dissolved into the mush of the sleep deprived but I can’t get back to sleep. I didn’t even take my 1/2 Xanax last night. Xanax only lasts 5 hours . Which means I’ll wake up whether or not I take it. My issue isn’t falling asleep but getting up too early.
Karen my therapist says I need to find a balance between being and doing. By which she means I need to take enough time to stay with my grief when it bubbles up, to locate where it is in my body and recognize that, if my eyes are sore, my hands and jaw are clenched tight and my heart feels like it’s encased in ice, I must be grieving.
I’m an activist. I don’t do “being” well. To “do” is easier and more comfortable than to “be” with what I feel. With Stew’s death, I had a fight or flight response. I started out numb that devolved into paralysis to be replaced at great speed with doing. Like Jerry said, I’d Do It. Disregarding traditional wisdom that widows should not make big decisions in the first year, within nine months I moved out of 5204 Wisteria with its four bedrooms, memories of Stew and Jessica growing up and a winter heating bill of $800 a month. I held a two-day yard sale that ended with an Abbie Hoffman Memorial Free Store, put those items I thought I could not live without in storage, quit my job at Planned Parenthood and moved from Portland back to Berkeley with its community of support: Jessica and a cohort of 1960s friends. All “doing.” And, as it turned out, all right decisions.
With David’s death, It’s different. I thought that being a double widow would work to my advantage: I’d know what to expect. But now I’m not so sure. I’m impatient. And goal oriented. I want to be done with grieving . But no amount of doing it will get me past death’s pain this time around. My therapist is right. Even though I tell myself I don’t know how, I need to take the time just to be with my grief for David and, yes, also for Stew. Or am I just waiting for the sun to rise so I have an excuse to do by dragging myself exhausted out of bed at 6 a.m.?
UPDATE # 1 – Writing (in bed, on my iPhone) allowed me to go back to sleep. I awoke at 8: a.m., much revived.
UPDATE # 2: ON MY PREVIOUS POST: Yesterday I picked up the print of David’s picture, framed it in black wood from Thailand and placed it on the antique French wood desk I inherited from my mother. Now I can I see David’s beatific smile and watch his eyes follow me across my living room. When Jessica was a child, she’d look up at Stew’s and my poster of Che Guevara whose eyes stared down at her aflame with the zeal of revolution and ask, “Who is that man watching us eat?” Not that David modeled himself after Che, but I can’t help but look at David’s photo and ask, “Who is that man watching me re-make my life?” Then, to use a phrase I’m getting truly sick of, I tear up.