“I think it’s just as likely that someone could say that this place, right here, is heaven, hell and earth all at the same time. And we still wouldn’t know what to do differently. Everyone just muddles through, trying not to make too many mistakes.” ~ David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Lantern Festival by paul+photos=moody (FCC)

                   

“We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours?” ~ Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollak

Friday afternoon. Sunny, hot, and humid.

Thai Lantern Festival (Google Images)

It is beginning to hit me—the insidious thing called grief—waves of sorrow and sadness and regret and loss, pouring over me. I hear it in the strains of the music playing in the background. I see it in the brilliance of the late summer day. I feel it in the silence of the walls surrounding me.

I do not like this.

I wish that there were a lantern festival somewhere in the area. You know, the festivals to honor the dead in which participants float paper lanterns, sometimes with personal messages, sometimes not. I’ve always thought that these festivals are beautiful homages to the spirits.

Speaking of homages, yesterday, I spent hours and hours working on the family pictures for the college. Perfectionist that I am, I could not simply place the pictures onto an 11×14 rectangle. I had to despeckle, fix the contrast, touch up the color. I added a border around each picture, something that should have been quite simple but was not because I have forgotten how to place pictures into frames, and the copy of Photoshop that is on this particular computer is not my full version from Adobe, but rather a temporary version which Brett downloaded.

It’s better than nothing, but aggravating in its limits nonetheless.

I finished the collage around 10 last night. It’s a huge jpeg file. Corey is going to take the disk to have the enlargement and prints made for me because, of course, I could not upload the file onto the Costco site. I acquiesced rather than spend another hour trying to figure out why I could not upload. Then I went and threw up. In the past few days, I have been living on anti-nausea medication and muscle relaxers. Neither are working.

“A life is such a strange object, at one moment translucent, at another utterly opaque, an object I make with my own hands, an object imposed on me, an object for which the world provides the raw material and then steals it from me again, pulverized by events, scattered, broken, scored yet retaining its unity; how heavy it is and how inconsistent . . .” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Forest Hills Lantern Festival, by liza31337 (FCC)

To say that I slept fitfully when I actually slept is, alas, understatement. I turned off the television around 2 a.m. The last time I allowed myself to look at the clock it was 4:30. The dogs sensed my restlessness and acted accordingly: they got up and down all night, and I got up and down with them, walking to the back door to let them out, only for them to sit down at the door and look at me expectantly. My patience was sorely tried.

I had to get up early to take Brett and Em to ODU, and I’m afraid I drove while unconscious, or at least it seemed that way. I only remember one part of the drive, the part at which I had to pass police and rescue cars surrounding a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. The universe is fucking with me.

I came home and rubbed Blue Emu into as much of my back and neck that I could reach, took muscle relaxers and ibuprofen, and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

All of the knots that were released by the trigger shots on Tuesday are back, probably thanks to the floor cleaning and then sitting at the computer for half a day. I am my own worst enemy. I could go back to the pain doctor today and probably need another 18 trigger shots. My wrist is marginally okay, as long as I don’t turn it certain ways, the same with the neck—limited range of motion. I realized last night that I was walking through the house with my shoulders hunched.

Did I mention that I’m losing my voice as well? Perfect, absolutely perfect.

“After the bones—those flowers—this was found in the urn:
The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain.” ~ Agha Shahid Ali, from “Even the Rain” in Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals

Honolulu Lantern Festival (2009)

Last night (this morning?) I had a Dillard’s dream, which is usually what I dream when I am intensely stressed. I had been accused of saying something that I hadn’t said, lots of drama. Blah, blah, blah.

In the midst of trying to steel myself to take another look at the eulogy that I wrote a few weeks ago, I’ve been going around with my health insurance people who told my neurologist that they couldn’t find me in the system to approve my Botox injections for migraines. However, when I called the health insurance people, they found me just fine. Forget the Botox and just give me a hammer.

I need to make changes to the eulogy, but since I’ve already had one meltdown this afternoon, I dread opening the file. But I’m out of time. Tomorrow is the service. I need to iron dress shirts and pants for Corey, Eamonn, and Brett. Eamonn cannot find his dress shoes, of course. What other crap can happen? Please, let it rain down on me now so that I can just get this over with, seriously.

Apparently, there is a dead sea turtle floating near where Corey is working today. I’m glad that he did not send me a picture of it as I happen to love sea turtles, think they are beautiful creatures. He called the local marine institute, and they are coming out to retrieve the body. Encounters with dead things. Perfect.

Do I believe in omens? You bet I do.

“Pale Death with impartial tread beats at the poor man’s cottage door and at the palaces of Kings.” ~ Horace

Toro Nagashi during Japanese Obon (Celebration of the Dead)

I think that I’m running out of steam. The other sections of this post wrote themselves. Then I got up to check the dryer, folded some clothes, came back, and now I find myself staring at the screen, which, without my glasses, looks like a mass of white with black blurry lines and a few blocks of color here and there.

I don’t wear my glasses when I write as I have no need to seen either the screen or the keyboard. I look when I’m inserting the images and deciding on a color for the headers. Other than that, I just let my fingers serve as a direct conduit to my brain, my thoughts. Looking just means that I focus, and when I focus, I lose the thread of what I was saying.

I have my blues playlist running in the background—Tom Waits, Melody Gardot, B. B. King. Anything else would grate on my nerves. The songs come in and out of my consciousness, sometimes hearing, sometimes not. But right now, Waits’s scratchy voice has entered into my consciousness, and I am close to tears again. That’s the kind of voice that he has, full of sadness and melancholy. Corey asks me why I do this, torture myself. He doesn’t understand that these sad, melancholy songs are sometimes the only thing that serve me well.

It’s hard to explain, but my playlists are the soundtrack for my life, sometimes full of catchy melodies, sometimes heavy with nostalgia, and sometimes, just pure gut-wrenching.

Today is a gut-wrenching kind of day. Having said that, I suppose I should just go ahead and open the wound a little more and take a look at my eulogy. If I put if off any longer, it’s going to be night, people will be in the house, I won’t be able to concentrate.

More later. Peace.

Music by Kate Rusby, “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?”

                   

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

~ Adam Zagajewski
(Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh

 

“Creativity is the marriage humanity makes with eternity.” ~ Eric Maisel, Affirmations for Artists

Back Lane in Woodford, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“All you need now is to stand at the window and let your rhythmical sense open and shut, open and shut, boldly and freely, until one thing melts in another, until the taxis are dancing with the daffodils, until a whole has been made from all these separate fragments.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from  Letter To A Young Poet

Sunday, late afternoon. Sunny and warm.

White Wooden Garden Gate (Wikimedia Commons)

I slept very soundly last night. Now that I think of it, I’m sleeping better lately, not so much up and down every two to three hours. I am still sleeping about eleven hours, but I still feel like I need it, which is so strange.

I had more vivid dreams last night. Once again, I dreamed that I was back with my ex, but I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be with Corey. I really hate dreams like that because I wake up all discombobulated, and it takes me a few minutes to regain my footing.

Corey had to work the late shift last night, so I watched television until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I have a vague memory of Corey getting home this morning and untangling me from the covers. I was probably wound up in them in my usual fight with the dogs for my portion of bed space. Of course, all of this is done without me being aware of it.

When I finally got out of bed today, I tackled all of the dishes. I don’t mind washing the dishes; what I do mind is washing the dishes while sweat pours down my face and into my eyes. Our kitchen is beastly hot at all times, and it has always been this way. But my tolerance for the heat is nil so that by the time I finish washing the dishes and wiping down the counter and stove, I’m a sopping mess. It’s quite sexy, I must say.

Not.

Anyway, I thought that I’d start a post early enough today so that I might be able to finish it without dragging it out throughout the week.

“The sky is no longer out there, but it is right on the edge of the space you are in. The sense of colour is generated inside you. If you then go outside you will see a different coloured sky. You colour the sky.” ~ James Turrell

Planet Earth Vol. 10 by geograpcics (DeviantArt)

I had a good session with my therapist on Wednesday. She asked what I wanted to talk about, and I told her that there were two possibilities: my daughter and my inability to deal with not going back to work; however, since I still hadn’t talked to Alexis, there really wasn’t much point in discussing that issue as it was at a standstill. So work it was.

One of the reasons that I like my therapist so much, aside from the fact that we have known each other for over 20 years, is that she has this innate ability to get to the heart of matters. I can tell you after seeing several different therapists, not everyone in the profession can do this.

I told her that I dream about going back to work at least three times a week and that the dreams never end well. We pondered that and a few other aspects for a bit, but ultimately she said that my loss of identity, the identity that I have always tied to having a career—making money, being successful on my own terms—my inability to deal with the loss of those things was grief, and I hadn’t dealt with that grief.

Geez. Grief? Again? No, we all know that I don’t do grief well, not at all.

What it boils down to is that as long as I keep thinking that I might be able to go back to work, then I’m never going to deal with the fact that I can’t go back to work, certainly not full time and not in the kind of careers that I have had in the past. I mean, the reality is that if I had been working in the past two weeks, out of those ten days, I would have been out of commission for four; no one is going to want someone on staff who is that unreliable, and I cannot predict when my body will decide to take a time out.

“Honest criticism means nothing: what one wants is unrestrained passion, fire for fire.” ~ Henry Miller

The Open Gate by Victor Peryakin

I had never thought of the loss of my career as something over which to grieve, but I have been working steadily since I was 15, full time since I was 18. That’s a long time. A long time in which to build confidence, a sense of identity, a sense of accomplishment. Dr. K likened it to what happens to people who retire and are totally unprepared for the major life change.

It makes complete sense when I think of it in that way, but my inability to move forward emotionally is also keeping me from enjoying something I have longed to have the leisure to do: write.

I used to dream about quitting work and writing full time. Now, I have the time, and I don’t always write. Dr. K suggested that perhaps in my goal-oriented way of thinking about things, I’ve put too many expectations on my writing, as in writing to finish my book, writing to publish, and because of this, I’m not taking the time to just enjoy the practice of writing.

I have worked on deadline with clearly-defined goals all of my life: proposals to garner funds for this or that, deadlines to go to print, presentations to recruit students, sales goals, whatever. And during all of that time, I longed, ached really, to just be able to write. For three years now, I have been about the practice of writing, but always with some goal in my mind, and my inability to pursue that goal clearly and steadfastly has made me feel that I’m not making any forward progress.

But this is the reality:

  • I wrote my first post on February 26, 2008, but I did not begin to post regularly until July 2008.
  • I’ve published 652 posts, and about 95 percent of those were written, not just videos.
  • I average 1500 words a post, words that are mine, not quotes or poems.
  • Based on about 618 real posts, that’s 927,000 words, give or take a few thousand.

Nine hundred twenty-seven thousand words . . .

  • There are roughly one million words in the English language, but does that include scientific terms, acronyms, numbers, etc.?
  • It is impossible to calculate accurately how many words are in the English language because there are so many mitigating factors: slang, regional dialect, words that come from other languages that are used in English (e.g., cliché, Yentl, sherpa, pierogie), parts of speech, derivations, compounds, etc.
  • Unabridged dictionaries contain between 200,000 to 600,000 entries

Have I written a dictionary’s worth of words?

“Stand high long enough and your lightning will come.” ~ William Gibson

Garden Gate

Of course not. But I’ve written a lot of words, and before today, I never calculated just how many words I’ve pounded out on various keyboards and computers at my disposal.

I’ve certainly written enough words to fill a book, but obviously that does not mean that I’ve written a book. But that’s not the point; the point is that all of this time, I have never really given myself credit for writing, just writing. I’ve always kept the presence of this elusive goal in the periphery, which makes me feel guilty for not doing more with my writing.

Perhaps if I can let go of the idea of returning to work, returning to a full-time career, and perhaps if I can allow myself to feel a sense of accomplishment for the writing that I am doing, then I will be able to move on, or at least to move beyond this standstill in which I have felt myself mired for the past few years.

I know myself too well to believe for a second that I will be able to assuage all of the guilt; I still have that strong Puritanical sensibility: hard work brings success; although to be truthful, I don’t know where it comes from. No wait. I do. It comes from my father, from both my parents, who instilled in me early that I had to work hard to succeed.

But aside from that, if I can start to let go, perhaps I’ll be able to move forward.

“I had forgotten that time wasn’t fixed like concrete but in fact was fluid as sand, or water. I had forgotten that even misery can end.” ~ Joyce Carol Oats, I Am No One You Know: Stories

Rustic Garden Gate on Riverside at Eynsford, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t know, just as I don’t know with any certainty what tomorrow will bring. I just know that I must try. I am so tired of my life being the way that it is.

I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with mosaicmoods regarding the Robbins quote that I posted a few days ago about self destiny and piloting “your own ship.” What I take from the quote is that Robbins is saying that if we sit idly by and wait for things to happen to us, then we deserve what we get, but if we pilot our own ships, if we carpe diem, then we have a chance to make our dreams a reality.

Of course, the opportunities that present themselves to us are not always obvious. We are not always self-aware enough to realize that this moment in time is an open door, so we do not go through it. Or, we may sense that the open door is there, but for whatever reason, we do not go through the door. Perhaps we are afraid of what is on the other side of the door. Perhaps we are just to tired to make the journey, however small.

I only know that I have been hanging about waiting for god knows what for too long. My decision to write just to write is not an earth-shattering decision. I see it more as taking a step or two through the garden gate and down the path. Whether or not that path arrives at a cottage by the sea doesn’t really matter at this point.

To be perfectly honest, I’m just glad to be on the path.

More later. Peace.

Music by Thirteen Senses, “Gone”

                    

Untitled by Halina Poswiatowska

these words have always existed
in the open smile of a sunflower
in
the dark wing of a crow
and also
in the frame of a door left ajar

even when there was no door
they existed
in the branches of a
simple tree

and you want me
to have them to myself
to be
the
crow’s wing the birch and the summer
you want me to buzz
as beehives do
when open to sunshine

fool
i do not own these words
i borrow
them
from the wind from the bees and from the sun

(Translated by Marek Lugowski)

                   

*Just an aside. It’s now 9 p.m. I began this post at 5 p.m. It has taken everything in me not to get up and walk away from trying to publish this damned thing. The computer began to act up as soon as I started to insert my images. Argh . . .

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

From the Infinity Series by L. Liwag©

“Memory is a part of the present. It builds us up inside; it knits our bones to our muscles and keeps our hearts pumping. It is memory that reminds our bodies to work, and memory that reminds our spirits to work too: it keeps us who we are.” ~ Gregory Maguire

In the Gloaming II (pointillated) by L. Liwag

I no longer weep on Caitlin’s birthday. That fact does not make me sad. No. That’s not the truth. That fact does make me sad, for does it mean that I have forgotten? In truth, I have not forgotten anything, but I suppose the memory has become so much a part of me that it no longer sits alone by itself, waiting to be taken from its perch, brought to the front, so that it can hold sway over my entire existence. 

That is the fact, the truth, the reality.

We are all collections of our memories—both painful and lovely, luminous and cutting. We file our memories in the small repositories within our brain, move them around over time so that some can be recalled instantaneously, while others are relegated to forgotten corners where they collect dust, withdraw into almost nothingness, only to resurface at inappropriate times. 

“Memory is a tenuous thing, like a rainbow’s end or a camera with a failing lens.”  ~ Ellen Hopkins

Lynnhaven Pier at Twilight (pointillated) by L. Liwag

Some years, the memories of my baby girl breach my consciousness in horrible ways, unrelenting waves that pull me under and leave me gasping for air. But most years, the memories are just there. I can delve into them if I choose, or I can just look at them from afar, keep my distance, choose not to touch them. 

That I have arrived at this point in my life is a good thing, I think. That I can meet March 26 without the fear of complete emotional paralysis means that I no longer feel Caitlin’s presence, her life, her death, so keenly. She is no longer the fresh wound that I bore for so many years, one that I continually tore the scab from so that I could watch it bleed. Rather, she and all that she was has become one of those fine lines on my body, one of the silvery scars that make me who I am. 

I do not believe for a moment that there will not still be days in my life on which I suddenly find myself overcome with grief, but I know that those days will happen with less and less frequency because that is the way of life. We live, we collect, we sift, we hold, we discard. All of the pieces that are precious never fade entirely. That is why we are allowed the gift of memory. Some of the pieces will not go away. That is why we are burdened with the pain of memory. 

“Some things don’t last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down on the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.” ~ Sarah Dessen

Caitlin and Me

For me, the pain of those days in November has melded with the joy of those days in March and April so that it has all become one. If I pick too much at the threads, it will fray and unravel, but if I just touch it gently, it will remain whole, with all of its swirls and hues. The Pointillists knew that if they created enough colored dots, the eyes would see a whole image. Such is memory: thousands and thousands of disparate dots, a second here, an afternoon there—all coming together to create the one image. 

In my mind’s eye, I see Caitlin with her dark hair and almond eyes, her chubby arms and legs. I see her without the wires, without the machines. I can still hear the machines, but I no longer see them. In truth, I do not remember very much about the day on which she was born. I remember the doctor, and I remember that it was afternoon. I remember taking a shower. Other than those few things, I do not remember.  Unfortunately, too much of what I remember came later. 

Today, though, I remember her arms and her hands. I am not weeping, nor am I overwhelmed with sadness, and that is a good thing. For now. 

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.” 

 ~ Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

                                                                                                           

Rain Light 

All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the afterlife
that lived there long before you were born
see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning 
 

~ W. S. Merwin 

Ray LaMontagne’s “Empty” 

“I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.” ~ Sophia Loren

JS Sargent Repose_Nonchaloire

John Singer Sargent’s “Repose” (Nonchaloir), oil on canvas, 1911: This is how I felt yesterday 

“Sadness is always the legacy of the past; regrets are pains of the memory.” ~ Author Unknown

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ” ~ The Wonder Years

Well, yesterday was an eventful day, so to speak. We found out that one of the avenues of employment that Corey was pursuing is unavailable. Big disappointment there. I really thought that that part of the plan was going to work. Perhaps that’s why I shouldn’t be optimistic: It always ends up smacking me in the head.

Speaking of being smacked in the head, have to say that so far, the massive doses of magnesium are not helping with the usual morning headache. Each morning when I awaken, I have a headache, not a migraine, just a tightness. I don’t know if I am grinding my teeth, but I don’t think so. Corey would have told me by now if I am grinding. So each morning I get up and take 800 mg of ibuprofen and two Sudafed. This usually helps somewhat as I think that part of the reason is my fall allergies kicking in and causing sinus pressure. Oh well.

Another interesting not good thing that happened yesterday is that I had a minor breakdown. Let me explain.

hampelmann

Hand-painted Bear Hampelmann from Germany

I was looking for something for Alexis that I had been keeping for her. I had thought that it was in the small lockbox in which we keep our passports, birth certificates, etc., but it wasn’t there. Then I thought that I might have put it with her stuff from when she was a baby. I pulled down everything in the top left of my closet as that is where I store the things from the kids’ earlier days.

For example, I have a huge Raggedy Ann that Alexis’s Aunt Ann made Alexis for Christmas one year. The handwork on this doll is amazing. I kind of feel sorry for all of the grandkids, nieces and nephews who came along after Alexis. Everyone was tired of making handmade presents by then. I mean, for the first five years of her life, Alexis was it in the family, so she received handmade Christmas ornaments, dolls, cross-stitched pictures, you name it.

Anyway, Raggedy Ann and a much smaller Raggedy Andy are stored in that part of the closet, waiting for the day if/when Alexis has her own children. I also have a bag of puppets from Germany. They are called hampelmann, which are hand-painted puppets of sorts. Alexis had about seven in all, and they used to hang over her changing table. I would use them to entertain her, and then later, her siblings.

(Aside: Today when I got home from picking Brett up from school, the Pluto hampelmann had been eviscerated, torn limb from limb. I’m pretty sure that Tillie did it as she was the only dog that was hiding from me.)

“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” ~ Willa Cather

Sock Doll

Example of a handmade sock doll

Back to the closet. I have kept just a few pieces of clothes from each child, favorite shirts, etc., and I have a bag for each one. There is also a plastic cubed storage container in which I have put several things that belonged to Caitlin. Well, in pulling everything down from the closet, this container also came down.

I made the mistake of opening the container and opening the box that was on top inside of the container. This box holds several things from that hospital, including a sock doll that slept with Caitlin the entire time she was in the hospital.

Let me back up. I’m not a craftsperson. Never have been. But while I was teaching at ODU during that semester in which Caitlin was in the hospital, several of my students brought in things for her. My most cherished gift is a sock doll that one of my student’s mothers made especially for Caitlin. These sock dolls have been around for centuries. They have been called hush-a-bye dolls because mothers used to give them to their babies to keep them quiet in church.

Anyway, I took the doll in my hands, and that was pretty much as far as I got for the next hour. Corey walked in, took a look at the things spread on the bed, and immediately knew what had happened.

“Love lost is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food our tousle their hair . . .But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end. Love doesn’t.” ~ Mitch Albon

I came across an article about two weeks ago on a syndrome that some psychiatrists and mental health care researchers are trying to have approved for insertion into the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association). The disorder is called prolonged grief disorder, or something like that. PGD is a disorder in which the individual simply cannot get over the loss of a loved one within the “normal” time periods.

PGD is different from depressive disorder, and currently grief is not included in the DSM. In one article, researchers contend “that PGD meets DSM criteria for inclusion as a distinct mental disorder on the grounds that it is a clinically significant form of psychological distress associated with substantial disability.”

Apparently, PGD occurs when grief following lingers and become a serious health problem.

I wish someone would have asked me. I could have told them that years ago. I know that my grief is not normal. I have known that forever. It manifests itself unexpectedly, sometimes mildly, sometimes to the point at which I am completely paralyzed. Granted, I do not have these hour-long crying jags everyday or even every month. But I can count on having at least one Caitlin/Dad related episode in a year.

I really don’t need a psychoanalyst to tell me that my bereavement periods are longer than most people. I do not need confirmation that the pain should not be as acute as it still it. And I will freely admit that even I am astounded by just how severely I am affected when it happens.

I also know that a lot of the reason that my grief has hung around for so long is directly attributable to my feelings of guilt over both of their deaths. I had to make the decision on whether or not it was time for Caitlin, and I don’t know that I will ever be able to view that as not being questionable: Was it time? Should I have waited? With my dad, the guilt arises over the fact that I wasn’t with him when he died, even though I had promised him that I would be there.

“Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.” ~ Cicero

Logically, you don’t have to tell me that I should have let go a long time ago, or point out my inability to let go. I know all of this. But holding that small, soft doll I could swear that it still smelled of her essence. I know that that is not possible, but grief and despair do funny things to a psyche.

I did look a little more in the storage case: I found the blue smocked dress that I have talked about, which was a real surprise as I have believed for many years that that particular dress is with Kathleen, along with the other dresses that I sent her. I also found the dress that Caitlin was wearing when she had her one and only portrait taken.

Black Patent Leather Mary Janes

Black Patent Leather Mary Janes

Eventually, I was able to put everything away, and Corey put the box back in the top left of the closet. The rest of the things that I pulled down are still in a pile in front of the closet. My accidental encounter with the past left me depleted, bereft, numb.

Too much at once. I’ll get to the rest soon. I think that I am saving it until I can actually enjoy the contents of these bags and boxes. After all, they are filled with items that recall good memories—like Alexis’s tiny Virginia Tech t-shirt. That made me smile.

So I’ll go through the rest, probably tomorrow, refold, repack, and replace on the shelf. I’ll take the time to bring to mind some of the good memories that are associated with these things: Brett’s baby blankets, the various humpelmann, Eamonn’s little cap from the National Zoo, Alexis’s Mary Janes. I find myself smiling inwardly even now as I type about these things. And that’s a good thing.

At times, I can balance with unbearable with the wonderful, the heart-wrenching with the endearing, which only proves that I am human after all. And even if it’s a lie, I will try to believe that it will be all right.

 

More later. Peace.