Nearly six months after Bruce’s death I am finally getting it into my stubborn head that I need more rest. And relaxation. Rest and relaxation; kind of catchy, isn’t it?
It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to realize that, since a month prior to Bruce’s passing, I’ve been relentlessly busy, as if I were either chasing something or running away from it. I guess I’ve been doing a little of both.
Chasing self-sufficiency and running away from losing him.
It’s been an education, not only learning to do most of the things Bruce used to take care of but also identifying what those things are. I didn’t think to have the gas fireplace serviced until the company that installed it left a message on Bruce’s cell phone. I have, of course, updated the contact phone number with regular vendors. I’ll hold onto Bruce’s phone for a full year, to make sure I catch the strays, too.
I’ve made lists and schedules to keep it all going- -pets, house, yard, garden, cars, etc. With so much to do I’ve had to prioritize and set limits. Don’t worry about getting the Xterra’s dead battery replaced until the Subaru’s recalled passenger airbag had been taken care of. The shower really, truly only needs cleaning every 2 or 3 weeks. Writing takes a priority position every day but cannot take up the entire day. Responsibilities with deadlines are met on or before time. My health is priority number one because I’m the heart of the machine. I eat regular meals, and exercise is a non-negotiable necessity. Pet health is priority 1. a.; they need me to be in good shape so I can take care of them. It’s just like on an airplane: strap on your own oxygen mask, first.
As for the other aspect of this half-year of manic activity, I’m not really running away from losing Bruce. I know he died but way down deep inside I just don’t get it. Chances are I never will, completely. And that, I’ve come to realize, is okay. To me, Bruce is very present. He’s in the house and in the pets and in my heart all the time. Also in my brain. I remember hard times, sad times, wonderful times and everyday normal times. Every day we move forward together on our disparate tracks.
Yesterday I had my mammogram and annual exam. My story of death, loss and adaptation was told twice, once to the mammography technician and once to the nurse practitioner. The second time through I started to tear up but liquid grief didn’t breach the reservoir wall. I cry in different ways besides tears, like through the knot of muscles in my back that never quite lets go, even during a massage. But a massage does help. Listening to a self-hypnosis relaxation CD helps. Writing blogs helps.
I’m lousy at resting. Just ask my mom, who was probably expecting a perfectly behaved baby like my older sister who loved to take naps. Not this kid. But I do have a “lights out” time that only a really good book can tempt me to defy. Last night I even experienced a tremendous moment of peace. It rained, hard. The drops hammered the roof and invited me to breathe in, breath out, let go. It will all still be here, even if I let go.
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Wonderful insightful blog, Susan. I’m going to suggest your blog to some hospice grief counselors.
That catchy phrase “rest & relaxation” really does mean different things to different people. The longstanding difference between your sister and yourself is a perfect example. I think your renactment activity fits, too. In the style of Monty Python’s “now for something entirely different”, it releases creativity, allows another person to arise, and refreshes the neural apparatus by utterly changing the environment (and perhaps even time).
Cats may be our best teachers. I’ve heard speculation that they are actually liquid as they pour themselves across our laps. Thank you for sharing your journey. No one remains untouched by loss.
The very best compliment, Tom, is to pass one of my blogs on to hospice folk. I am forever grateful that Walla Walla Community Hospice made it possible for Bruce to spend his final days at home. They truly held me up and taught me how to take care of him in circumstances I’d never imagined would arise.
For a moment I didn’t recognize your name- -so many years of seeing the alias!
Best to you,