Sunday, June 22, 2014

Then it fell apart, it fell apart, like it always does, always does

Three weeks After

Rough week.

Reading back through Jay's blog was rewarding in some ways, but just made me sad. It made me realize how much of his life, his energy was already lost by the time I moved to Portland, and how it just kept draining away.  I had to stop reading once I got past his surgery this year. I couldn't bear to re-read recent events.

Hardest this week was the Genre car being taken away to be sold.  So much of the fun we had was related to that car, and having the garage empty is painful, knowing that we'll never take another trip in the car with the top down.

I'm still having trouble sleeping. The house is haunted for me, haunted more by a sense of loss than by Jay himself.

It was so painful for me to watch Jay and his dad purposefully taking his life apart before his death. Even harder on this side of things to be part of taking what remains of his life apart and substituting my life for it.

I am unbearably lonely, in ways that no amount of socializing with friends can touch.  I remember this loneliness from after my then-husband moved out of our house in Baltimore. No matter what else may be going on in my life, I crave the intimacy that comes from a core primary relationship. Without it, I am lost. Right now, I am lost, and fear that I'll never find that kind of connection again, not so much because it's not out there, but because I'm afraid of opening my heart again.

Finding Jay was such a stroke of luck, and losing him, while obviously not unexpected, was a dagger to the heart.

I will feel that pain forever.


  1. Ouch. I would offer some consoling words, if I could.

  2. Yes, it's the core loneliness. I have felt it over and over and over, although it was never death that took the other person away. Maybe surviving the death of a loved one is a useful skill to be learned, because unlike child bereavement, it's a kind of loss one half of all couples will experience, and I remember my grandmother going through it when she was old and frail. She never got over it - she could not remember life without my grandfather and her last ten years were a gradual descent into oblivion and terror. If you can't be the one that dies first - and that has its own horrors - then maybe it's useful to know that you can go on, in grief and pain but go on.
    I'm in the same place as you in a sense, thinking that I don't have the heart to try again, that I can't take another failure, another ripping out of a half of me from my heart, another looking in the mirror and seeing an unwanted wreck. Rejection is not death but the loneliness of it is very similar.
    Of course, rationally, I know that time moves on, that I will meet new people, that I will likely form new bonds. I keep the comforting thought that at least once I was loved, it may have ended but it was there, and unlike me, you never hurt that person that loved you so much. Jay's life may have ended in pain and fear but he knew he was loved and cherished.
    When he showed up in your life you knew what the outcome would likely be. You knew there was this pain at the end, but I don't think it held you back. I know it wouldn't hold me back: here is love and happiness, for a while, should I embrace it knowing full well that it will end? So when as it is likely to happen in life a new person will pop up, I don't think the fear will stop you.
    When Jay died and I saw the outpouring of love, and I thought of how you had come into his life, I thought he is one of those people who are beloved because they are worthy of love. And then I reflected that loved doesn't necessarily happen to people who deserve it. But, yes, there are peope who are kind, and open-hearted, and fearless in their feelings, and they are much more likely to be loved. I don't know you personally, Lisa, but you seem to me one of these people, a big sunny kind soul, calm, reasonable, loving. Unafraid of grief.
    I am trying to eschew cliches here, but I am in a very dark place right now and there are times when I tell myself, why on Earth does death come to somebody so beloved and so precious, who so much wanted to live, when I have no achievement to show and nobody who would miss me grivieously apart from my parents? (Ok, and the cats, she says, looking at the end of the bed). And immediately afterwards I feel ashamed. Of course I have to hold on to life, because it would be indecent to throw it away when Jay would so much have wanted more time. In the end, pain and grief are better than the alternative, and even loneliness is.

  3. Lisa and Anna, what eloquent words. As usual, I've tried to come up with words that are more helpful than hurtful, and have none. <3 to both of you.

    Lisa, you surely must have ESP. Only yesterday, I was wondering about the Genre car and recalling seeing you and Jay drive away from that BBQ place last summer. Our convertible's top was down too, and the four of us were waving and laughing in the sun. It was bittersweet even then to watch you both drive away. However, it's a memory I cherish.

  4. When my sister died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, of a metastasized uterine cancer she never knew she had -- decades of no health insurance -- I drove down to Atlanta twice to get her affairs in order. Both times her friends assisted and it was a bittersweet yet joyous occasion to disassemble a life and share memories. But before starting with her apartment and later her storage locker, I had time by myself amongst her things.

    It was strange to see her place ended in mid stream. To see things I remembered over fifty years.

    It would have been unbearable except Wendy had done so much charity work, we were able to sort and donate things. I thought of keeping her guitar, but I don't play, and a friend had a daughter who needed a guitar. I did keep her and her late husband's camera gear and photos, so much of which I had assisted with years ago.

    But it was hard. It had to be done fast. And when it was done there was a huge hole.

    I still find things I want to email her or call her about. Alas...

    People will tell you that life goes on. Of course it does, that's not the point! There will always be storms of emotions. Weather them as best you can. Just know that anything you sell or give away will no doubt give someone pleasure and life and memories, whether they knew Jay (or Wendy) or not. There is no one right answer. The hole in the garage will be just as hard as seeing the Genre car.

    Take care,

    Dr. Phil

  5. There will always be a hole where Jay once was. But, over time, "life" will slowly compress the hole so that it defines you and your perspective less and less.

    I ache over the loneliness you are going through. No one, NO ONE, can fill the space that Jay adorned in your life. And, you may never find that particular kind of magic again. However, someday, if you open yourself to it you may stumble on another flavor of sweet magic that fits the life that you have when it trickles its way in.

    You are a loving spirit. The universe recognizes that. I have faith that your love will not be left untapped.

    To love is both a gift and a curse. There is nothing so sweet as finding love and being loved in return. Every day that love is in our life is to be treasured. Not to sound like a Buddhist sage (because I'm barely a student), but life is impermanence and change.

    I envy you the love you found. I do not envy you the bereftness that the loss of love causes you.

    Should we never allow ourselves to feel attachment so that we do not suffer through loss? Of course not! I truly believe that one of the reasons that we are here is to love one another. Sadly, there is always the risk that the wheel will turn and we will suffer the loss of a treasured love.

    Find what sweetness that you can in each day. Treasure the memories you have been gifted with. And eventually, reopen your heart. Your dance is not done.

    I hope that the love we are all sending your way eventually helps you ready yourself for the next song in your life.

  6. Today’s the 18th anniversary of my first marriage (the one that lasted five months). So I’m feeling more reflective than usual.

    I'm one of those people who also needs a core primary relationship.

    My time with my first husband (just under three years) was on the same order of magnitude that you had with Jay. At the time, there was so much future ahead of us. (A lot of newlywed widows feel that their future has been taken from them.) For a lot of people who'd been long-married or where the death was expected, it was more like their entire present was lost.

    What I can say that was true for me: I did manage to get it together, though the worst part was actually about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years out when I seriously started trying to reshape my life and everything felt off. I was starting to date and it wasn’t working very well. Rick’s the third person I dated during that period, and the one where the relationship did take off.

    One thing I noticed was true of a lot of younger (meaning 50 and under, mostly) widow(er)s: many of us felt like we could do anything, including the things we’d previously ruled out. So part of my difficulty 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years out was narrowing down what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, because all those choices I’d made before suddenly seemed like they needed reexamination. I found that I related to a lot of young college students around then, because it was almost like I had as few constraints as they did. I started studying for a possible Ph.D. program, then gave that up and went back to finish my master’s degree and go on to get a second one (in different fields than the Ph.D.).

    Feeling like your life will change direction in unexpected ways is normal. Not knowing what to do right now is normal. Not feeling that connection is also normal.

    But I can say that Rick and I connect more deeply than my first husband and I ever did. I don’t know if that helps, but it’s what I’ve got right now.

    (And I owe you an email, but my inbox has only now stopped exploding from blog stuff.)

  7. I understand loss and your words are truthful and remind me of what it can be like. I took (and still take) great comfort in music. I hope you have your ways, whatever those may be.

  8. Lisa, as you can see, you're very much in Deirdre's and my thoughts, and we hope for the return of light into your life, which alas will take time. (Having seen my mother cope with being suddenly widowed when I was young, I can hope and expect to have some insight.) Expect to have good days and bad for some years to come.

    Please stay engaged with things, even small ones. Involvement with the world is good and will help you continue to function. (I hope that doesn't sound judgemental: Being able to cope after a major loss is supremely hard, and that's nothing to apologise for, ever.)

    Best Regards,
    Rick Moen