Last week was the two-year anniversary of Michael's death. In 2 weeks it is the three-year anniversary of the beginning of his sickness.

I spent the weekend prior to the anniversary with my grandkids. I saw Brynn, my most personable and pleasant granddaughter (age 15 months) while her parents were away and then I spent two days with my funny grandsons CJ and Derek (ages 7 and 5). I thought I was "buffered" for the anniversary.

I went back to work on Wednesday and by Thursday morning I was a wreck. I was anxious and upset. I couldn't catch my breath. I felt as if someone was sitting on my chest. On Friday I just sobbed all night. On Saturday I just bumped around the house. Everyone was gone. I was ten different shades of crazy. I didn't know what to do with my self. My head was pounding. My chest was pounding. I tried meditation, relaxation. All the things I normally recommend and what normally works for me. I felt as if I was drowning in my reaction….and I couldn't stop it.

That night I didn’t sleep a wink despite taking Ambien and, about 6 hours later, Excedrin PM. My body tends to go into a hypervigilant alarm state when I’m deeply upset. And it was that.

I fell asleep about 10 am on the couch and Gina woke me an hour later to tell me she was going to work. I struggled to wake up and listen. She was the one who found Michael seizing on the morning when both our lives changed forever. She had called to me a few times and I’m never sleeping that late. Because I was unresponsive and she didn’t think I was sleeping, she thought something was wrong. When I finally opened my eyes she was shaking like a leaf. She thought I was dead or dying. I tried to sit up and reassure her, but I couldn’t get myself up. I just waved my arm around indicating I had heard her. She left and I tried to go back to sleep, but it didn’t work.

My head hurt. My heart hurt. I remembered seeing footage of drowning people…how they look when they stop struggling and just let go and I felt that way. I don’t want to struggle any more. I just want to slip beneath the waves. And not feel this way. Ever again.

My “you have to live” and “I can’t take it anymore” went to war. It’s an ugly war. It changes a person. I’ve been irritable and, in so many respects, don’t really care.

My life has been hard and survival has been my sword. Look at me, you can’t knock me down. My youngest son wrote this to me on the anniversary: I know the past 3 years have been extremely tough on you, but just like everything else that has happened in your life, you have been strong and powered through it. Your strength has been amazing and you continue to be the glue for our family. I’m glad the kids were able to brighten your week.

But in the moments when my war is raging, I don’t feel that. I want to stomp and yell and carry on and not be anyone’s glue for anything. I’m tired. I want to slip beneath the waves of grief and just go silently into the night.

I miss Michael. And when I feel pummeled by missing Michael, I miss him even more. And then I feel the “stop missing him so you don’t miss that he would comfort you if you were missing him” war going on. It’s not that Michael would be the only one who could comfort me, but throughout my life he’s the only one who DID comfort me. So I ache for him and then I ache for him comforting me when I ache. Then I tell myself to stop aching for him because it turns into wanting his comfort, and he’s not there. It’s a mental ping pong tournament in my head.

As I’ve written on here I had night terrors before I met Michael. When I was a small child I would hear whispers that I was going back to my biological mother, to another foster home…to somewhere…anywhere where I wasn’t…even though my foster family was pretty dysfunctional, they were the only family I really knew.

They aggravated most men. My insomnia, my fitful sleeping, my jolting awake. When I first started staying with Michael he was up like a shot the first time I had one. He sat and talked to me and soothed me and hugged me. I thought, at the time, that it was new love being on good behavior. But it wasn’t. He never ever ever didn’t soothe me. My night terrors went away. He was always there. I didn’t wake up like a shot. I didn’t have fitful sleeping. And even if I was up late and he had fallen asleep, he would always wake to my presence in the room. It was never an annoyance to him. He was never irritated that I woke him up. He was always glad to see me. Always. If I was away from him and woke during the night I knew I could call him and he would pick up the phone and say “Hi hon, what’s up?” in the same voice if I had called at 2 pm instead of 2 am.

And I could always count on him to be there. I didn’t ever have to explain to him what was bothering me or go on and on to get any kind of comfort. It was just enough that I was uncomfortable. And if I wanted to be left alone, he left me alone. If I wanted just to sit and be, that was fine. If I wanted to talk, that was fine too. Whatever I wanted. It got so that just knowing he was there and that if I ever needed anything, he was there, gave me so much comfort that I rarely felt the need to verbalize what was going on. His presence was enough for me.

When Michael got sick I turned myself inside out to be there for him. I did everything humanly possible for him and would have given all my limbs and half my organs if it meant he would survive his deadly brain cancer. I wished he had some kind of medical issue that I could give him a lung, a kidney…anything. ANYTHING.

I always say that I’m astounded at how dedicated I was when he was sick. I honestly didn’t know I had that in me. But it was not a reflection of my love for him but rather his love for me. How he treated me and cared for me and just thought the world of me. How he was always there. How he never made me cry. I couldn’t do enough for the only human being (including my 4 parents and most of my siblings) who was ever there for me. Who loved me unconditionally.

And when I feel uncomfortable or I can’t sleep (night terrors have returned, insomnia, fitful sleeping), there is no one there. No Michael. No one was ever like Michael. No one will ever be Michael…and I miss him…but am so raw I know I have to find comfort in other places. In little things…

Now I have to find comfort other places. In my son’s words. Taking the cats out on the deck on a cool night (and watching my cat come face to face with the chipmunk who thinks the deck is his turf. I don’t know who was more startled but I broke it up by sending him down the stairs.

I used to take my cats out all the time when we lived other places. They’re indoor cats but they go out when I’m there. When Michael got sick and Goobies died I stopped doing it. I don’t know why. I have no idea where I’ll be living in 6 months but I have a feeling it won’t be in a place where I can bring the cats out. I thought I’d be excited looking at apts in the city but what’s available and what I can afford just depresses me. The exact opposite of what I thought I’d be feeling.

So I try to turn my thoughts away from the panic I feel thinking that I simply don’t know what will become of me over the next few months. I have to move. I have to pack. I have no money to move. Michael always packed and moved us. His packing was hilarious, but he was the hardest worker I ever knew. And every single thing I touch reminds me he’s not here, he can’t help me, he can’t soothe me and I am unsure. I don’t mind not having a partner in my life. I mind not having Michael. And how unsteady I feel about the financial future. Nothing went as planned…nothing…and the slip under the waves feeling comes and I have to make it go…

I go back to the cats on the deck and try to find comfort in things. Don’t worry about not being able to do this anymore. Enjoy doing it now. Smile at the startled cat and chipmunk. Listen to the birds. Look at the plants.

And breathe.

You’re not slipping under the waves. Not today….just breathe.

Advertisements