Tag Archives: grief

I miss him

Tomorrow is Monday. For most people, it will be just another work week starting. But for me, it is the worst anniversary: two years since we lost Dad.

July 17 used to be just another summer day, but now it looms like an exam I didn’t study for or a long, painful dental appointment.

As this summer approached, I didn’t think about lounging by the pool or trips to the beach. Instead I thought “was Dad in the hospital by now two years ago?” Anxiety festered inside me as I tried to decide how I should observe the day. I worried “what if I missed the anniversary completely? What if I forgot?”

Maybe someday I won’t dread July 17, but I doubt I will ever forget what happened on that terrible day. Continue reading

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I’m not myself right now

I should do something. But I’m so tired. I should go to the gym or write or something. 

It’s Saturday and I’m lying on my bed wearing gym clothes. I didn’t make any plans for the weekend with the exception of Sunday brunch and I’m semi-OK with that. On one hand, I am tired from a lot of recent business travel. On the other, I miss my friends and know I am going to be traveling a ton these next two months so when will I see them?

But back to the first hand. Lounging on my bed with Law & Order playing in the background is all I can seem to do. I don’t even have the energy to visit the cats today.

Baby cat 20160818_120116

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Five or six weeks ago, I emailed a therapist specializing in grief counseling to request an appointment. I followed the process spelled out on her web site after going through a painstaking process to identify her as someone who accepted my insurance, didn’t have hellaciously bad reviews online, wasn’t geographically undesirable and maybe-hopefully had a basic web site via which I could confirm the particulars.

She has yet to respond to my initial inquiry, or a follow up one made after three weeks of silence. Thus far, I haven’t been able to make myself place a follow-up phone call. And I absolutely don’t have the energy to cross-reference the thousands of listings of people my insurance company swears take my insurance (not this one) with ZocDoc or Yelp or similar. As a result, I will probably try to make an appointment near home at a place that doesn’t take insurance, but does respond to appointment inquiries and fast. At $300 per session, they are quite ready to sign me up.

But I will figure something out eventually, right?

I don’t feel depressed in the sense that I have before. Depression is not unfamiliar to me. I take medicine and previously worked through the things that hurt me in therapy. The black dog has followed me for as long as I can remember. But it has become manageable. Had.

This part of me isn’t something I had been ashamed of, but I had long felt it was well addressed and I didn’t need to talk about it.

But this is different. I feel flat. There’s so little that excites me. My ‘happy place’ right now is lying in bed playing Words with Friends or sleeping. I cancel plans frequently.

I find it so hard to focus. I feel tired every hour of every day. My body aches. About once a week, spurred by thoughts of my father, I have a big cry. And yes, typing that sentence caused a lump in my throat followed by a rush of tears to my eyes.

I miss Dad so much – the uncomplicated nature of our relationship and the constancy of his support. While we had philosophical disagreements, I always knew he was listening to me, absorbing my thought process and considering it carefully.

Dad’s absence has changed my relationship with my mother too. I knew it would, of course, but the changes are not at all what I expected, making me feel lost in the dark. I thought she would need me more and it’s not that I wish for her to need me more, but I can’t say I understand how to act right now. Additionally, in spite of her strength, I don’t feel like I can tell her how rough I have been feeling, particularly after what I put her through last fall.

Even though I know I have reason not to feel my best, I feel guilty for the fact that I don’t. I feel terrible about my inability to write, or to focus my pitiful attention long enough to read a chapter of a book. I can’t fathom ever pushing myself hard enough to get fit again.

I don’t feel terrible, just low, most days–only some. I’m not sad daily, but my energy level is poor. One day, I am able to power through with smile, more or less. But others, I spend hours in bed. Making small talk, something my livelihood depends on, feels like torture sometimes.

I know from experience that this too shall pass. But in this moment, I can only wish to feel better soon.


It’s Sunday. I wake up excited to have brunch with my friend Brooke and then do a little skincare shopping together. The sun is shining for the first time since I returned from my most recent business trip a few days ago.

On my way home from brunch and shopping, I stop at Whole Foods in hopes of finding some of my favorite ice cream – score! – and then stop by to see the kitties.

 

Some days are easier than others.

All these terrible anniversaries

I knew to dread Christmas. Because obviously, Mom and my first Christmas without Dad would be hard. My body created a buffer of sorts: I was sick in bed with bronchitis for three days beginning Christmas Eve, leaving Mom to fend for herself. I was so ill I couldn’t even feel guilty until later.

Christmas circa 1978 20150909_203232

I anticipated that the month of February would be painful between Valentine’s Day and Mom’s birthday. Dad was a romantic who enjoyed planning surprises for his wife and took pride in his gift giving.

I had no idea how painful my birthday would be. The first October 16 without Dad in this world, how it hurt. I was heartbroken all over again. Continue reading

I am a monster

My mother is crying.

I am sitting with my arms around her in a gesture meant to comfort, but it’s a perfunctory effort. My arms may as well be made of wood, and my heart, of stone.

It’s February and we are in Florida, attempting to celebrate my mother’s first birthday without Dad. Mom is raw and unsteady. As brittle and delicate as a fallen leaf. When I arrive at the airport, I hug her and try to find the right thing to say. Saying the wrong thing, even a sincere “how are you?” brings her to tears some days. But my own eyes stay dry.

I am a terrible daughter.

snap

Continue reading

My totally lousy Christmas (and not for the reasons I expected)

I had never thought to make a list of questions I don’t want to be asked in the presence of my mother. That is, not until my mother took me to a hometown ER for the first time in my adult life this past Saturday.

Upon my arrival in triage, the ER nurse spoke.

“What is your weight? Please step on the scale.”

ER

WEIGHED IN FRONT OF MY MOTHER? THANKS DUDE-NURSE.

I wobbled in that direction–partly from illness, mostly from dread. I had been sick for about three days, but unfortunately my appetite for Christmas cookies was unaffected. My weight, a number carefully hidden from Mom, would soon be revealed. Continue reading

My idle mind

My plane landed early at JFK Tuesday night, but a hiccup with the equipment meant that we didn’t disembark until well after 11 pm. While we waited for the tow, my mind wandered. My phone was dead. Without email, texts, Twitter and Words with Friends, my thoughts were all I had. And they quickly turned sad and dark.

There are a few memories about my father’s death that I have tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to tuck away somewhere unreachable. I try not to think about the heart-breaking ride from hospital to hospice. About how I knew that the end was coming, but felt trapped between not wanting him to die and wishing for the torturous in-between to be over. I remember how he had begun to change physically, no longer looking like the Dad I had known and loved every day of my life.

But what forced my emotions to surface Tuesday night was remembering what it felt like to sit with my head on Dad’s shoulder one last time. It was July 16, hours before he was moved to hospice. Dad had been in ICU for a while now – days? a week? It’s all a blur now – and subject to isolation protocol due to the fact that he had contracted several infections including pneumonia during his hospitalization. Each time Mom and I entered his room, we were required to don a fresh yellow paper gown and blue rubber gloves, all of which we would discard upon exiting. Each re-entry required fresh garb.

On that last day, I couldn’t take the gloves anymore. I tossed them aside as I pulled up a chair close to Dad’s bedside. My sweet mother worried for my safety, but I couldn’t be concerned about myself.

Dad was sedated but sitting up at forty-five degree angle. Carefully, given the monitors and tubes connected to him, I put my head on his shoulder. One of my hands held his while the other stroked his forearm, committing the feeling to memory as I knew it would be one of my last opportunities to touch his warm skin.

Dad’s shoulder, which I leaned on throughout my life both literally and figuratively, felt smaller than I remembered. As we sat there, I took in the feel of his bones against my cheek, thinking of the many times he lifted his arms to carry or hug me. I marveled at the strength within.

“My Daddy,” I thought to myself, like I was a little girl. Tears fell.

 

I heard the woman in the seat next to mine rustling in her purse.

“Would you like these?” she asked in a lightly accented voice (Czech, I subsequently learned), offering napkins for the tears that had begun falling from my tired eyes.

“Thanks. I’m ok,” I replied before adding “I lost my dad four months ago,” so she wouldn’t think I was mooning over something dumb. I care too much about what people think of me sometimes.

We talked. She was kind.

And then it was finally time to get off the stuffy plane, return home to Brooklyn for the first time in a week and hopefully let this aching heart of mine get some rest.

family

These are my Thanksgiving fears

I worry that…

  • I will forget to make myself undiscoverable on Tinder.
  • Someone will hit me in the nose during a well-intentioned hug.
  • I won’t get enough Old Forge-style pizza or naps.
  • Mom will suggest seeing the movie, Carol. I do not want to see Carol with you, Mom.
  • I will cry every day I am back home, missing Dad. He loved Thanksgiving.
  • I will lose my mind telling family friends all of the reasons that they need to stop thinking that Trump is actually vote-worthy. I’d direct them to Sarah Silverman’s tweet but I don’t want to foist them on Twitter.

Go Sarah

  • Someone will ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend.
  • No one will ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend because they assume I’m a lost cause.

Forever Alone

Hopefully your Thanksgiving holiday is lighthearted and fun – at least compared to mine!