riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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The Sweet Gift of Grief

Recently, I have felt a growing distance from my grief, and it’s been bumming me out. It’s as if I’m losing the sense of being Kaz’s widow. Even more disconcerting, of being his wife. The healing seems to have replaced something intangible in addition to the grief. Or perhaps it has become a thing in itself, like a scar that replaces a wound and then becomes a permanent fixture of the body.

I’ve actually found myself yearning for the earlier days of grief. The days when it felt like my heart was splitting in two, every waking moment an excruciating reminder of his permanent absence. Yet I could still feel and remember him vividly, and we were still together, still part of a union. So there was sweetness mixed in with the pain. Now the pain has subsided taking the sweetness with it, and I’m left feeling empty, longing for one or the other, or both.

Then three triggers happened this weekend.

The first – a dear friend got upset with me about something on Friday night (details irrelevant to this post). When I finally left work at 7:45pm, I drove home knowing this friend was disappointed in me and basically feeling like shit. I remembered similar times before when I had come home upset and Kaz had put things in perspective.

“Don’t beat yourself up,” he would have told me Friday night. “You apologized. There’s nothing more you can do.” He would have diverted my attention to the positive. “Hey, at least today was pay-day, and tomorrow Angelina is coming over, and Sunday is football, and you’re going to cook us dinner.” At that point, I would have nudged him and laughed.

Angelina is the new cleaning lady I’ve hired to come every other week. She is reasonably priced and sorely needed, but still a splurge. The last time I had a cleaning lady was when Kaz was sick. One of my former bosses had very generously donated several months of cleaning service. Kaz immediately dubbed these nice ladies “the help” (a year before the film came out), and mumbled about them moving his stuff around. But we both appreciated them very much. 

This new lady, Angelina, did a wonderful job. She also emanated a certain energy that I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s comforting to know she’ll be back every two weeks, and not just because of the cleanliness she leaves behind.

The second trigger was a dream on Saturday night, in which I visited Kaz in a hospital. I hate to see him sick in my dreams, but it was still good to see him in general.  We spent the time lying on the grass in the shade of a large tree outside his hospital room, just listening to the wind rustling through the leaves. 

Sunday I slept in and captured this classic moment:

Ruby in the morning

Then it was off to Agility class with Ruby, where she got to do the course off-leash for the first time, and see her pal Louie, the grey poodle I wrote about here. They’re both in Obedience and Agility together and quite an item now, play-wrestling before and after class to everyone’s amusement. Louie shows his affection by chewing on Ruby’s ears, and she shows hers by nibbling on his ankles. “He has a thing for female pitbulls,” Louie’s dad told me with a smile.

The third trigger happened when we stopped to look at motorcycles at a Honda dealership on the way home. “My late husband owned an RC51,” I told the rep as he showed me around. I could almost feel Kaz walking around with us.

Not surprisingly, I cried harder this weekend than I have in the past several months. But it was a good cry, familiar and somewhat comforting. I had been missing my man, and this weekend he came back briefly. His sweet presence in turn triggered the painful grief. But despite – or perhaps because of – the tears, I felt grateful.


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Rolling with It

A friend recently said reading this blog is like “riding a rollercoaster.” I guess he’s right. There are and will be peaks and valleys as I continue to straddle the past and the future, sorrow and hope.

If you’ve ever lost anyone close, you know how hard it is to ride those waves of emotion that hit without warning and leave you breathless from impact. One such wave hit me this morning.

It was pre-dawn, the moment when the night’s darkness hasn’t yet started to lift. The past few days I’ve allowed Ruby out of her crate around this time for a bit of snuggle time before our busy day begins (I know I’m breaking crating rules). This morning, as we lay in the silence/darkness, the puppy fast asleep, a wave came out of nowhere and I started sobbing.

But I couldn’t pinpoint the trigger this time. Was it the pressure of the warm little body next to mine reminding me of the larger warm body that used to lie beside me (and she can never replace)? Was it the hour itself, the same time I used to wake him for medication when he was on hospice? Or the semi-dark lighting, in which we would sometimes wordlessly make love before our alarms went off (in happier days), after which he would rise out of bed smiling, “Good morning” and head off for the shower.  [I once asked him if he ever flashed to our morning trysts later in the work day, like during staff meetings. “Yeah, and I also whistle in the elevator on those mornings,” he answered.]

Maybe all of the above. It lasted a while this morning, until the sun came out. At one point, Ruby woke up and rolled onto her back to look at me curiously. “It’s okay. I’m okay,” I told her. She rolled over and went back to sleep.

Later, after dropping her off at daycare, I listened to his voicemails I still have saved:

May 15, 2010 Hey babe, what’s going on? I guess you’ve gone to sleep already. Just walkin’ home from the Metro, figured I’d give you a call and see how you were doing. But I guess I’ve missed you, so I will catch you tomorrow. Have a good night, sweet dreams, love you, talk to you later, bye.

February 20, 2011 Hey babe, how’s it going? Guess you might be sleeping already, it’s a little bit after 11. Give me a shout if you can tonight or gimme a call in the mornin’. Hope you’re having agood night. Love you. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.

March 5, 2011 Hey, I just wanted to say hi and I love you. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.

March 21, 2011 Where you at woman? Where you at woman’s phone?

April 3, 2011 Hey babe, I’m home. Gimme a call when you get the chance. Bye.

March 21 was when I asked him to call my cell phone which I had once again “lost” in the apartment. On April 3 he was in the hospital recovering from seizures and on lots of medication. His voice changes from message to message but not the emotion within.

Sound waves, like  emotional waves which still reach me today.

I have learned the best way to deal with a wave is to roll with it, allow it to carry me out, making sure to stay afloat but trusting that eventually it bring me back to shore, naturally.

Are you familiar with these waves? How do you deal with them?