Grief is a circular staircase, but am I going up or coming down? ~ C.S. Lewis

I may have quoted this on the blog before but it feels like that. Some days I am honestly okay and other days I know I am just doing what needs to be done, but as I do it, I feel this wall of grief shadowing me….the minute I think about Michael for any length of time, it will fall in and crush me.

I have stopped crying in public for the most part but have several instances each day where I blink back tears. I sometimes will think an odd, random thought about Michael and it will take me down for a minute. The other day I thought about the tattoo he had over his heart. The two hummingbirds holding a banner with our names and anniversary date. Michael was such a hairy Italian that I joked that the birds were in the bushes and no one really knew they were there. He would say, “I know they’re there.”

But the worst part was that I gave him a hard time about it when he got it to surprise me with it. It was a totally crazy girlfriend/wife moment. I did not have a lot of crazy girlfriend/wife moments with Michael (completely minute compared to other relationships) but this was one and it was a classic.

First he gave me a trip to California because I was totally crazed in that first year with the moving and the wedding and all the kids….so he gave me the present for Christmas but the vacation was in March. Going to Santa Barbara California for 5 days by myself to lay on the beach and read. Then I took the Coast Starlight train to Portland Oregon to visit with a friend and flew home. Great present, huh?

But Michael still had a hard time with it. He wasn’t feel comfortable (yet) with me going away by myself and he didn’t really understand my need to do that. He thought I should want to be with him all the time, the way he wanted to be with me. But I was really sure that wouldn’t be healthy for either of us so he booked me the trip, sucked up his feelings about it and bid me a fond farewell and have a great time. And I was doing just that.

Then one night I called home and no one knew where he was and no one had seen him for about 5 hours. He had just disappeared (very un-Michaellike) and I was in a panic by the time I found out that he was nowhere to be found. I thought all kinds of things. He was dead, was with another woman, just walked out on me….(the kids drove him away).

So my head was NOT clear when I heard from him and about what he had done. I was full of emotion and just wanted to scream my head off at him. No thought to the fact that he snuck off to surprise me with something. And no appreciation for the something. At all.

I thought it jinxed us somehow. He said there was no jinx and if he wasn’t sure of us, he wouldn’t put my NAME on his body. He said “I have never tattoo’d anyone’s name on my body and never WOULD have someone’s name on my body unless your name is Harley Davidson.” To him, it was the ultimate compliment and act of love and something he had never even considered doing before let alone doing it.

And there I was saying you suck for all of this.

I don’t know what was with me. Insane behavior. To me it was a gesture so grand and so early (we were married about 4 months) that it seemed to be some kind of bad thing to me. I had almost no insecurity with Michael but that made me insecure (and when he bought me a brand new car the month before we got married).

So with that freakout, I am kinda surprised we got to our fifth month of marriage with that sort of craziness going on. But Michael was calm and offered to cover it up (though that would not be an issue when the hair grew back). Even though some part of me knew I was acting like a nut, I felt anxious and couldn’t tell what I was reacting to. I didn’t get it then, I don’t get it now, and I regret it. I’m not sure I ever apologized for being such a jerk but we did joke about the tattoo later on, several times, so maybe it was okay. I don’t know. At least I never acted that stupid again.

And the other day I was thinking I would never see those birds in the bushes again. And I was just walking along and my crazy brain just snapped a picture of it in my head. And I almost melted right there on Fulton Street in lower Manhattan.

I tried to tell Michael everything in the last year we had together. He told me I took such good care of him and I said it was because he took such good care of us for so long. I wanted him to know how truly truly wonderful he was and how deeply and completely I loved him. I think he knew. But there were certain things I had forgotten about (because we never ever kept a running tally) and didn’t apologize for. There weren’t many, but the tattoo incident, where I was clearly wrong and clearly out of my mind, was one of them.

I’ve been thinking of doing the Grief Recovery inventory but right now I think I’m just randomly remembering….and it comes and goes at strange intervals. I have been looking for support groups and found a terrific one on Sunday morning but I have to be more proactive about getting there. One woman gave me her phone number but when I called, it did the ‘number not in service’ thing. I think I wrote the numbers down wrong.

So we’ll try again this Sunday. I have to commit to going no matter what (something I lecture others about, as you all well know) .

But the staircase is there and whether I’m going up or coming down, I have to get somewhere. No matter what.

Thanks for listening.