My stepfather passed away on Saturday.
It was a horrible day. I was on edge the entire time, anticipating the phone call. I had no patience for my children. All the usual weekend household tasks seemed like insurmountable obstacles.
When my Mum called, we were in the middle of dinner. I was trying to eat pizza with one hand and nurse P. with the other. As soon as Q. answered the phone I knew who was calling and why.
I talked to my Mum for a bit.
And then we had to finish dinner, and P. wanted to nurse some more, and then we cleaned up, and then E. needed a bath, and then I had to put him to bed while Q. walked the floors with P., and then I had to nurse P. to sleep and it was well after 9 p.m. before I had any time to myself and by then I just wanted to fall asleep on the bed in my clothes (as has happened several times in the past week).
When I last spoke to my counsellor, she told me it was important that I make space for grief. I had said to her that I felt I had mourned more for my cat than for my stepfather or my father. In part this was because (at the time) neither of them had died and there were still things I could do about the situation. But mostly it was because I have had to confront the physical absence of my cat every single day since she was euthanized.
I can’t ignore it.
I can’t hide from it.
I have been forced to wrestle with it and acknowledge it.
I don’t know how I will make room to wrestle with the loss of my stepfather.
My counsellor talked about a book called Tear Soup (or something like that) where the person grieving drops tears into the soup because making dinner is the point where they have time to mourn.
I guess I have Tear Showers.
They’re not ideal, as I seem to only manage to shower every third or fourth day at the moment. And when I’m in the shower, P. is usually in the bouncy seat so I’m trying to rush through as quickly as possible.
I could easily have Tear Evening Nursing Sessions, but I don’t feel like that’s fair to P. She doesn’t need to be attached to a weeping mother.
A good friend from my childhood reached out to me after I put the news on Facebook (that is maybe another post- grief in the age of social media- I don’t know that I would have said anything on Facebook but followed my stepsister and sister’s lead. But then not saying anything seems dishonest. I still have not said anything about my father’s accident on there and now I feel like the silence suggests I am somehow ashamed of our new reality.). She said she had been weeping off and on since I posted.
I think she has cried more than I have.
In part, I am sure it is because this has come as a shock to her, whereas I have had a full month to sit with the terminal diagnosis and the eventual decline, plus many more months (years, really) of health issues which had suggested we were on borrowed time.
But I’m sure part of it is that she has the time to do this. She has no children. I am not saying her life is not full or busy, just that if you are not always responsible for two tiny people with many, many needs, perhaps it is easier to find a quiet moment to sit with distressing news.
How do you come to grips with something when you have no time to think for yourself about even minor things?
I told both my sisters I want a vacation from my life.
In many ways, I mean I want a return to BEFORE. Before the accident. Before the cancer’s return. Before we had to choose to give our cat a good death (a better death, I might add, than that which was available to my stepfather, which is something I struggle with daily and is perhaps another post).
It’s not possible, of course, and I wouldn’t want to erase P. either.
But that is ultimately how I feel right now.
I cry uncle.
I would give anything for just a few moments free of all I have felt for the last seven months.
Failing that, I would give almost as much for a few moments to feel, really sit with and feel, all I have felt for the last seven months.
Because right now I just feel numb.