First of all, I want all of you to know that I trimmed my fingernails for this. I like long fingernails but it was getting in the way of me typing. It’s the sacrifice I’m making for my art, and for you. You’re welcome.
August 29th was the day of the funeral. This has me once again thrown into what that day was like for me.
It’s interesting because I remember very little.
I’ve put bits and pieces together by what I do remember and what people have told me, mostly my mom. She pointed someone out to me the other day, and said, “He was here at the funeral, he was one of the guys that ran the grill.” To which I replied, “There was food?” Of course there was food, I just didn’t remember it. I was still under water. That was how that whole first few weeks felt. Like living under water. Other things that have been helpful for remembering are looking back over the guest book. Note: always sign the guest book at such events. Sign them legibly. I love to look at that. Also, I’ve re-read the cards that people sent a number of times, and I may go through them again tomorrow. They were just so helpful.
So many people came and really rallied around me, and I remember a lot of that. I’m so thankful to the friends that traveled to come, and also there were unexpected friends from town whose presence was so meaningful.
But here’s a story for you. I share this because it’s actually been a hugely helpful thing in the long run and I’m truly grateful that it happened.
I actually could give you a very detailed account of the story, but don’t want to be hateful, so I’ll just say that a woman greeted me, and in the whole stumbling over what to say to a widow (or at least lets give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that’s what was going on and not that she’s just mean) she says to me, “Well, I’d like to tell you that it gets better, but it doesn’t. I just talked to my daughter in law last week….” (Her daughter in law is a widow. I don’t know how the son died, I’ve only met this woman once before.) At this point I put my hands up and said “I CANNOT hear this right now.” Who tells a widow, at the funeral for her husband, that it isn’t going to get any better? That how bad she feels now is permanent? So I went inside and freaked out. My mind is racing. I’m thinking, “Ok, I’ve slept about 15 minutes since Monday (and this is Saturday). Also this week I’ve only consumed about 600 calories total. I can’t seem to keep hydrated because I cry out all the water I’m drinking. If this isn’t going to get any better any time soon, then I’m going to die, if not by starvation or dehydration then by going crazy from lack of sleep.” My brother and brother in law witness my melt down and ask what’s going on, to which I re-peat her words to me and call her a very ugly name, very loudly, so that I’m sure she and all of the rest of the guests could hear.
Here’s why I think this was good. First of all, it gave me a chance to be angry and ugly on a day when I needed to have an excuse to be. I’m very thankful for that. I recognized this even on that day. That may sound weird, but I think it was helpful.
Second, I have set out to prove her wrong. And it’s worked. This week has been incredibly hard. I’ve felt so much like I’m starting over. I feel like I’m feeling all of those same feelings again for the first time, because I’m not under water this time. I have more strength to process them this time or something, and this is infuriating. I’ve already lived through this once, why am I reliving it? But then I think back to the way I felt one year ago, and I know that I’m definitely processing it differently, and it IS better, so screw her.
I haven’t slept well this last week. But, I did get almost 4 hours last night. Much better than the 15 minutes at a time that I got the first week. I haven’t eaten well. I haven’t been hungry. But I’ve remembered that I need to feed myself and have taken steps to make sure I’ve gotten more than 600 calories this week. I’ve definitely had at least 600 today. And I still cry, but not like those first months, when I had major sobbing attacks multiple times a day. Now there are whole days that I don’t cry at all.
I’ve thought about thanking her. But then I’d have to have a conversation with her about the whole thing, and I probably owe her an apology for calling her that name. And I’m not sorry, so I’m not going to say I am.