Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


11 Comments

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

A few nights ago, the loudest BOOM I’ve ever heard in my life woke me in the middle of the night. My first thought was, “Are we at war?” It literally sounded like my neighbor’s house just blew up. My own house shook with the force of the explosion, which was followed by a sudden flash of light beyond the window curtains, like in a horror movie. Then the steadily falling rain started to pour so loudly, it sounded like it was raining in my room.

Then yesterday, during our morning stick time, the weather went from sunny to cloudy to SNOWING within fifteen minutes. Neighbors had warned me of late April flurries when I moved up here, but that’s the kind of thing one doesn’t believe until one sees it.

Well, yesterday it happened. Snow fell on just-bloomed flowers and new buds.

Strangely, I handled the cold all winter, but yesterday I shivered uncontrollably, even in the winter coat and gloves (which I had to run back into the house to get). The cold felt more painful in those few minutes than it had in the last several months. Was it because I wasn’t expecting it? Or because Nature was going backwards?

The weather oddly mirrored my own emotional state.

Last Saturday I joined a friend in the city to celebrate his birthday. The whole weekend was a vibrant rush of familiar faces, friends, new experiences and great weather. I felt alive and hopeful.

Upon arriving back home, I noticed that more flowers had bloomed, and some of the buds on the trees and bushes were now visible. The air smelled fresh and sweet. But the week went downhill from there…

Wednesday (April 22) was my wedding anniversary, which, as well as being forever etched in my mind and heart, also sets off an 11-day mourning period until May 3, the anniversary of Kaz’s passing. Four years ago we married. Four years ago he died.

I had anticipated that this week would be an emotional minefield. But I didn’t expect how many mines I would meet. Silly me, I thought I had cleared some of them already. Not the case.

I cried while throwing the stick for Ruby, while sitting outside listening to the birds, while passing a dead deer on the road, while taking a shower. I took a lot of naps, and went to bed before it was even dark out. The quiet of the countryside has felt oppressive this week, not comforting like usual.

And then there was the weather.

How ironic that it would get cold again right when everything is starting to come back to life.  The snow seemed surreal at first, and then more sinister, like a betrayal or a sick joke.

“It will get warm and stay warm eventually, right?” I asked a neighbor yesterday afternoon. “Yes,” she reassured me with a smile. “We’ll be standing out here in t-shirts soon.”

Even though the cold is only temporary, it’s hard not feel discouraged. It’s as if these cold, sad days have shaken my faith. I keep telling myself it will get better in May. Everything will get better in May.


162 Comments

Public vs Private Grief

On the way to Joshua Tree this past weekend I told the two other people in the vehicle (a male/female couple) about this blog. Both were old friends of my late husband Kaz. Both were very helpful to us when he was sick. And both have lost one parent to illness, so they know about loss and grief. Perhaps that’s why I felt safe mentioning the blog.

Though I’m gradually becoming bolder about it, I’m still a little shy about the blog. Shy when it comes to people I know. I think because this is where I still talk about my grief, about Kaz, and our time together. It feels like most of our friends and family have moved on, not in a bad way – that’s what you’re supposed to do – but in a way that makes me feel guilty about “going there” around them. I often get the urge to bring him up with people who knew him, but then think to myself, Why go back? Why dredge up old memories and make everyone feel bad? What’s the point?

There have been times when I couldn’t help but get emotional, like at the Clutch show a few weeks ago. There was another moment back in February, before returning to L.A. from Vermont, when I was having drinks in Brooklyn with Kaz’s best friend and my brother-in-law. The former was explaining to the latter how he and Kaz had met and become friends. As he told the story, which I had heard before, I started silently crying. I’m not sure my brother-in-law noticed but the best friend did. After a few minutes, I excused myself to the freezing outside in order to regain my composure. I felt guilty for crying in front of him, for ruining the moment by making it sad instead of joyful.

I wish it were easier to show emotions and talk about grief, death and the ones we’ve lost. But I’m also not sure it’s right to burden people with my emotions. I sense that people don’t want to talk about these things, don’t want to dwell or be reminded of their own hurt. I feel both responsible towards them and still responsible to Kaz for putting up a good front, as it were.

I felt this much stronger in the first few months after he died, like it was my duty to publicly represent him and us with dignity and poise. We had just recently been married so the feeling of US and this new role of both ‘wife’ and ‘widow’ brought up all kinds of associations. Images of Jackie Kennedy and Coretta Scott King flashed in my mind’s eye and I told myself that, given a choice, he would prefer me to be more like them and less like the widow who throws herself onto the casket as it’s lowered into the ground.

I wasn’t perfect. I did have moments. But for the most part I handled myself with an almost stoic resolve, which of course made people think I was much stronger and more together than I actually was.

Nowadays, it’s more difficult to keep that up, or perhaps I care less about keeping it up. So, when I get emotional in front of certain friends it’s like breaking precedent. And perhaps even more stange because it’s been almost two years.

This period in particular, between March 24th (the day he had the seizures) and May 3rd (the day he died) are the toughest of the year. Last year it felt like I was re-living every painful day of those 6 weeks. This year the painful memories aren’t quite as vivid. But I’m missing him something terrible. And trying not to feel guilty about divulging that even here, lest I bring you down as well (which is not my intention).