Friday, December 7, 2012

Not Logical, Linear, Uniform, or Predictable

Dear John,
 
I wasn't fine this morning. The nausea was fierce, so I stayed home today and will work tomorrow. I tried not to throw up, knitted Christmas presents, watched an NCIS Christmas Marathon, and took an hour-and-a-half nap. Jen picked up milk and a can of tomato soup for me on her way home.
 
I've been mulling how some things associated with you make me feel good, and some make me feel bad. I told Father yesterday that I'm a bit ashamed of this, but there have been some Sundays that I stayed home because I wasn't emotionally up to going to church - to being there without you, and with so many people who love you. He said that's alright - he's so gentle with me. Some Sunday's it's comforting to be there, and sometimes I get all dressed and ready, then can't go because it would be unbearable.
 
But being here at home, where I lived with you for 17 years, always feels good. Being among our things and your things is comforting. I've given away some of your things, and will give away more, but that's because there is someone who needs them, not because it is painful to have them here. And I know it's what you want, too. It hurt to see your umpire gear go, but there was a young new umpire who needed it so there was no question, and I love to think of it being used. I miss seeing your books, but I'm glad they belong to people who will read and treasure them. Your clothes went to Goodwill - it would stealing from the poor to keep them, and this is a way I can give alms in your name. It was a joy to give your cassock to Father, no matter how much I may miss it sometimes. I suppose I love giving your things to people who love you, and will love your things because they were yours.
 
My memories of you are good and they make me happy. But some places are so concentrated with memories that I can't handle them. Mackinac is one of those - we went there for our anniversary trip for so many years, and it was wonderful, but it was our special place and if I went back there without you I'd just walk around crying - not good for the tourism industry. And church is concentrated memories of you, too. Even before you were Orthodox, you'd come help me run the bulletin during the week and be there for special services. Maybe it's just that theology was such an intense part of our relationship - primary in chronology and importance. And I still deal better with small groups than large crowds - it's easier to let down my guard and be myself when I'm with fewer people. So the weekday Liturgies are easier than Sunday mornings.
 
I never claimed that grief is logical. Or linear, or uniform, or predictable. From the beginning I gave myself the freedom to feel whatever I felt whenever I felt it. On the way out of the hospital, Jen asked what I would need and I said I had no idea because I'd never done this before. She was wondering a couple of days ago what I'd need for Christmas, and my answer was the same - I have no idea, because I've never spent a widowed Christmas before. Not knowing what I'm going to do emotionally doesn't bother me at all; I'm fine to be learning as I go. I may look back years later and see patterns, but I doubt it. For now, I don't pressure myself to do things I can't do or go places I can't go, I don't hesitate to call on my wonderful support network when I need to, and I try to keep a box of brownie mix in the house for emergencies. In practical terms, that's about all a new widow can do. And I talk to you here every day, which has probably been the most important thing of all.
 
Now it's bedtime, so go give my love to the crowd at the parapet, and please keep praying for my faith and God's provision financially. And, of course, for my head. Always pray for your wife's head!
 
Love you with all my head and heart,
Joan.

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