Tag: Grief

Letting go

Let your wife go, man, let her be at peace

That revelation in the heading came to me suddenly after a year of madness. That is the calm voice of reason — not to say it could be replaced in the wink of a tearful eye with the jackdaw of unreason.

The cry of the jackdaw has been filling this empty house ever since the death of my wife just before the Christmas before last. I have staggered insanely and stumbled drunkenly throughout the house we shared ranting and raving fevered laments for my lost wife — I want you back! I can’t go on without you! And so on and so forth.

If only you were still in the nursing home, I would cry out, then I could visit you — because you’d still be alive!

But, in lucid moments I had to admit that would be grossly and painfully unfair to her — hooked up to machines, no independence, no dignity. She was in four nursing homes in the last three years of her illness — necessary rehab after several hospitalizations.

The nursing homes ranged from hellish to life-saving. When I brought her home from he last one — the best, one that put her back onto the road to recovery — we both looked foreword to Christmas and the new year and several more years together in our house in the New York countryside.

But then, just as she was getting better — Fate (God? What?) struck her down with a fatal blow — a brain hemorrhage from which she never recovered.

And so began the mad ranting and tearful raving in the house on County Rode 9. For more than a year, insanity raged throughout the house — damn good thing the nearest neighbor is not within shouting distance.

And then — just yesterday in fact, came the epiphany. In the middle of one of my tearful insane rants, a Buddha-type voice suddenly came into my head:

Let her go, man, don’t torment her with your selfish entreaties, let her soul rest, let her be at peace, let both of you be at peace She’s never coming back, man. Cherish the memories of the years you were together, the places you visited, from Montreal to Copenhagen to Prague to Sydney, that’s all you have, man, those precious memories, treasure them, and honor her memory with courage and calm.

Damn, that little Buddha in my head was a long-winded little fellah, but very cool stuff. I knew he was right — stop the desperate and pointless rants because they are upsetting and unsettling my wife in her place of rest — wherever it may be.

But, goddammit, the hardest thing in my life was losing her — the second hardest is letting her go.

Knock it off with the pity party

Knock it off with the pity party!—So saith the Susan

Every day is a misery, but be that as it may — he said cavalierly — self-pity be gone!

Notwithstanding that a “blog” is by definition a personal journal or log, for the past year this blog o’ mine has been an overly personal self-pitying dirge of sorrow and tears over the death of my wife (not to mention my son and two brothers—and yet I mention them!)

The blog has also been an unsuccessful search for “God” —

Maybe I’ve been looking for God in all the wrong places. I have never found Him in a church; I’ve hunted high and low, around the alter, the pulpit, the nave, the sanctuary, the sacristy, the vestry, under the pews, etc, all I see are symbols, one particularly gruesome one of Jesus dying a tortuous death on the cross — say here’s an idea, why don’t Catholics put up a more positive and cheerful symbol of that poor man, like maybe (as suggested by a comedian I think) Jesus walking on water — shows a positive and optimistic outlook and it’s one hell of a neat trick.

Walks on water

Actually, now I think about it, I have seen God and even spoken with Him — in the Roadkill Bar & Grille on County Road 9. I’ve seen Him at the bottom of my gin glass — I have 80-proof proof of that. I’ve drunk to his health. But I don’t think the gesture has been reciprocated. He’s never there in the morning when I’m hungover as hell. That’s when I need Him the most — that’s when the loss of my wife is unbearable. Where is He then?

— But I digress, where was I? Oh, yeah, while writing this blog I’ve realized all along that there are countless numbers of people who have suffered similar losses, and, in fact, countless numbers who are far worse off than me, much much far worse.

Even my wife, especially my wife, would say to me — would have said months ago in fact, Knock it off with this self indulgent pity party, which, quite frankly, honey, I find embarrassing. I don’t want or need all this morbid attention.

Okay, okay — so in accordance with my wife’s wishes — and now mine [drum roll please or even better the opening bars of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus] —

hence loathèd melancholy, to borrow the first line of poet John Milton’s 1645 poem ‘L’Allegro’ (The Happy Man).

Not that I will ever be a happy man, but I do not seek happiness — peace of mind is all I want, freedom from misery. And if I’m fated never to be with my wife again, by dint of that elusive, possibly (probably?) nonexistent God, then I live with the memory of her and I draw strength from her courage, especially at the moment of her death. If only I could draw faith from her faith, for she did believe in God and some sort of afterlife, and if I did believe in God I would thank Him for giving her that faith — and, ah-hah! then I would be a Happy Man.

Ω

OFF I GO

Gone to Prague, don’t know when I’ll be back

This blog was like a suddenly abandoned house. I know the owner well — we met in New York City soon after arriving as immigrants to America. He wrote about it HERE.

As co-administrator, I logged right into his blog and saw this note scrawled on one of the private posts:

Text only

 

Prague, I remembered, was the city he and his wife loved the most in their travels throughout North America, Europe and Australia during their thirty years together.

1993
Susan on the Charles Bridge
1993
Bill mingling with tourists
1993
On the streets of Prague

He would be going there alone this time. He was pretty much inconsolable after Susan’s death. He wrote several posts about it, one in the form of a poem HERE. And most recently HERE.

There was a large dose of guilt mixed with grief in his bereavement. “We had our differences,” he told me more than once about his relationship with Susan.

”It was a rocky marriage; we were apart some of the time,” he said, “but even when we weren’t together, we always kept in touch, every day, and I do believe we never stopped loving each other. I know I didn’t.”

I know for one that he was a good caregiver to her in the last three years of her life, and even he agreed with that. He told me that when he apologized to Susan for not always “treating her right,” she said to him: “You know what you call that, honey? Thirty years of marriage.”

That about summed it up, and that should have satisfied him, but the guy kept—and keeps, apparently—beating himself up over it. Maybe going to Prague will help, but I doubt it.

In any case, I’ll be filling in for him on American Daze Purple Haze until further notice.

— Guglielmo Michelini