I write less because the writing/getting it out is more painful lately than therapeutic…at least in the present time- though I’m sure it’s still getting the work done.
It’s dark so early and feels darker so I convince myself that if I up my light bulbs to the max throughout the apartment and invest in a new lamp or two it’ll make a difference. It does not.
I visit my parent’s house- the one where I grew up and basically lived until I was married for the first time today since you died. It’s where you slept over almost every weekend for five years of dating, and where we lived together with our newborn for five months. Although I wish it’d been a more romantic spot, it’s where I had my first kiss with you which was also my first kiss.
I drive there with Audrey before going to lunch at my childhood friend’s house. I only stay a short while for this first visit- long enough to drink a cup of coffee while Audrey plays with my parents outside. I walk around looking at the room you used to sleep in. I open the drawers and see the sweatpants we kept here that you used to wear. I discover the CS Lewis book on Love that I had given you one Valentine’s Day- it’s inscribed inside simply, “Daniel, I love you, Julia” I take it with me.
Overall, the visit isn’t as emotional as I thought it might be. More than anything, it’s disorientating. I am in my childhood home, but I am not a child. I am afraid returning there I’ll be sucked back to a previous level of maturity and growth, the stage I was at at 23 before I met you. But…I am not. I am much older, I have a child. I am a widow. Disorientation is the only word I can come up with.
There is a numbness coming over me that I’m conscious of. I’m not sure what it means, but a friend who lost her mother in a car accident instantly tells me she only realized a year into her grief process that she was numb for months longer than she thought. So probably I’ve been numb the entire four months. I think it comes in spurts to help me handle the pain. One simply cannot go on feeling so much raw pain for so long. Depression also is a way the body numbs the nervous system in order to better manage the grief. This is different from clinical depression.
Yesterday I took about twenty books out from our local library. I went to get one book I’d reserved and came out with a bag I could hardly carry up to our apartment. I dumped out my treasures and started to read Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “On Grief and Grieving.” A few months ago i read her famous, “On Death and Dying,” which I found comforting in its scientific approach to life after death. This book is her last, and was written as she lay in bed dying herself.
It is extremely comforting to read about the stages of grief that a grieving person goes through- and as she clarifies- in no linear fashion. It’s actually very different from what you learn in AP Psychology. She discusses the way both sorrow and anger are not received well in our society, and yet these are essential to grieving well. “The more anger you allow, the more feelings you will find underneath. Don’t let anyone diminish the importance of feeling your anger fully. And don’t let anyone criticize your anger, not even you.”
This “feeling fully” is my dreadful curriculum though I’d gladly circumvent it if I could.
Depression also is something our society tries to “fix,” but as Ross puts it, “The first question to ask yourself is whether the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual.”
And later, “As difficult as it is to endure, depression has elements that can be helpful in grief. It slows us down and allows us to take real stock of the loss.”
So I unhappily succumb to it all, because there is no other way but through. It is messy and extremely uncomfortable. It is the darkest, deepest place I’ve ever been, but it also the most revelatory- something I would still trade for just one more minute- 60 seconds – with you alive.