Saturday, October 27, 2007

The ongoing dialogue

If you look for it, there is an abundance of advice out there in the world for someone who’s recently lost a loved one. I don’t remember intentionally looking for it or reading it, but I could probably recite it if someone asked. Things like, "don’t make any big life decisions for at least the first year after the loss".

In my case, I waited one exactly one year and started making plans to move. I heard that little snippet of advice in the back of my head every time I got closer to my goal of leaving Northern Virginia. I knew ‘a year’ was intended to be an average. I knew I was probably rushing things. I didn’t care. I couldn’t live there anymore. It was too much, being there without him. Driving past the Van Dorn Street exit on 95 made me cry, every time, so did 5 Guys, and 3 buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s. I knew I’d never be able to, or even want to sit in the bleachers at Hayfield High School and watch a football game again. So I ignored the voice and kept on keeping on.

Later, I saw a grief counselor who told me I should write Mark a letter; tell him all the things I was thinking and feeling – just “anything I wanted to say”.
I never did this.

I knew if I started, there’d be no end. There was nothing unfinished between Mark and me. I loved him and he knew it. He loved me and I knew it. There weren’t any harsh words, or ruffled feathers. This should be good news. In the case of the letter writing though, it’s not. How do you write a letter to someone who you told everything to? Even when you don’t want it to, your life keeps happening. You keep meeting people, and if you’re lucky, you make some new friends.
Things keep happening in the world, things you want to talk about. Books and movies keep coming out.

It’s the worst insult. Never having a conversation with him again. Never sitting across from him in the living room, with the fire burning behind me and the dogs sleeping on either of side of him, talking about crazy, brilliant, funny, troubled high school students, or broken animals made well again, or family strife, or exchanging Monica Lewinsky limericks.

A letter? Never mind not knowing where to start, there simply would be no end.

I ran from the ghosts to North Carolina, thinking it would be better, and it was. It is. It still is. I have new people here, a home that he should have seen, a new puppy, and these are things he would have loved.

That wasn’t the worst of it though. The worst of it was when I realized I was in love. In love with a man who makes me think I’ve never been loved before. A man I can’t believe I finally met and a man I would have been proud to take home to Mark.

His opinion was always the only one that mattered. Even when I knew it wouldn’t be a favorable opinion. I took them anyway. Often, their reaction to him was the beginning of the end of it with them. They didn’t know it, but I always did.

It feels petulant to say ‘it’s not fair’. It feels juvenile to scream it.
I want to do both and I probably will.

The dogs won’t tell.

I miss you Mark.


Anne said...

Hugs, JC. Sounds like you did good getting out of there. Sometimes staying in the same place keeps you kinda frozen in time, at the most painful time, so it's harder to heal. I stayed in the same house 3 years after my bf died and was horribly depressed. When I finally moved and left that house for the last time, it was such a load off.

kenju said...

I don't know much about the details, but it sounds to me like you did the right thing. A letter might be good; I would keep it as a journal, since it is neverending.

Tracy Kaply said...

Oh,sweetie. Thinking of you.

wordnerd said...

This is incredibly, brutally real to me. Hope you find a little peace putting it down into words. Thinking of you.

Her Roo-ness said...

never. ever. ever. underestimate the power of 'keep on keepin on.'

you, my dear dear sister... are just fine.

and i bought you a bottle of 3 buck chuck for when you were going to come in may...its in my cupboard waiting for you...cuz i don't drink wine.

don't ever doubt, that you got 2 sisters to help you keep on keepin' on.

love you.

JustRun said...

I think you've got a little of your letter here. And I don't think there's anything wrong with it being written a piece at a time, and maybe never having an end.

rennratt said...


Anonymous said...

5 years? That sounds like horrible advice... Would Mark have wanted you to sit alone in stasis for five years? No - I'm thinking that love means knowing when the time is right to move on.

You've made a good start... but you already know it will be a difficult road.

You should miss him all you need to.

tiff said...

What they said.

The new good life is to be enjoyed. Tell Mark about it, as I often do with my Dad. He never got to see his grandchildren, yet they know him. Honor who he was by being the woman he loved so well, and all will turn out.

Now, scream. I find that the car is an excellent place to do just this.

utenzi said...

I've never lost a brother, Jen, so I don't know how hard it is for you. For most people their loss fades with time--it doesn't sound like that's going to happen for you. I'm sorry.

Scottsdale Girl said...

I HATE not being able to call my mom whever I want...but I still tell her things...and she hears me.

MUCH LOVE TO YOU Girl...much love.

Be all petulant.

Brianf said...

This post really struck me. You put into words a lot of things I have not. Damn Girl, you struck a chord and thank you for that. Very well written and incredibly well done!
Thanks! Now I'll start lifting and you'll go running...:)
Hoo, Ahh!

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