Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lost in the Supermarket

Yesterday I found an old notebook that I used to keep track of things when I was preparing to move down here from WA.  It held lists of house repairs, donations for the Goodwill, things to save for our garage sale, crap to haul to the dump, items to give away to friends.  There was a tremendously long TO DO list in Phil’s handwriting that I had dictated to him while we were driving in the car one day.  This was followed by page after page of errands that I had run in the days and weeks leading up to our departure ~ groceries, packing lists, dentist and doctor visits, car tune ups, and friends to whom we’d need to say good-bye.  There was even a pro and con list of reasons for moving to San Diego.

And then, on one lone page, tucked among these lists, was a notation long forgotten. 

Phil – another illness?

You see, at that point Phil was already in the beginning stages of what would eventually be diagnosed as lymphoma.  But at the time his symptoms were non-specific, very uncharacteristic for lymphoma and frankly, confounding.  While packing up and making the transition to CA he and I were also trying to figure out what was going on with him.  He saw his internist, a neurologist and a specialist in Seattle.  He went to the ER in incredible pain.  The best we could come up with by the time we left was that he might be developing another autoimmune disorder.  In reality, it only took about 6 more weeks for the lymphoma to clearly declare itself.

I’ve talked about my little journals before.  How they held my notes during his illness and contained my brain when I had little to no sleep and couldn’t trust myself to remember details.  They funded each and every blog post I wrote during that terrible hard time.  They are a record of his treatment, his intense suffering, his humility and ultimately his release.  They are sacred because they contain notations like the one I found yesterday that might pull me up short, but remind me of other times and other places that were real and were different.  They show me that time passes and things do change.  More on that later. 

There is a song lyric that Phil would quote from time to time when was overwhelmed or couldn’t make a decision.  “I’m all lost in the supermarket.”  Such genius lyrics these are, from The Clash.  It became a code between us when we were at a loss, literally or figuratively.  We loved the idea of feeling lost in the "supermarket", a metaphor for our everyday life.   When you can't understand what's going on with you or in your relationships and that stops the normal flow of your days - the "shopping" as it were.

Well, Daddio, I'm all lost in the supermarket.  

I feel like this more often than I'd like to.  Suddenly it's like I can't do what I was easily doing everyday and it's because of something that's lacking in me, and those voids aren't easy to fill.  What's lacking stems from the tremendous hole in my life where you used to be.  That’s obvious of course, but I'm struggling to understand how I lost so much of myself in your death.  I have been profoundly diminished.  

I still can't bring myself to hang any pictures of Phil in the new house.  Like a bad part of town or a corner of the woods you wouldn’t be caught in after dark, I've been skirting around that area of life for the last little while.  I've given myself lots of reasons why I haven't put any up but truth be told, I've been hiding out.  It's just too painful.  There are a few scattered pictures sitting on shelves but the entire folder full of pictures that I collected for his memorial sits untouched in my fire proof safe.  And I can’t bring myself to hang our wedding picture.  It still sits in my closet, right where Trenna put it when we moved in.  One small example of all lost in the supermarket.  

Phil is gone.  Now we are three. I get up every day and lean into the future with my kids.  I'm much more easily frustrated. I lose my temper and yell more.  I pick my battles and try to do my best.  It's ridiculously hard being a single parent, being a 45 year old widow, desiring to be fabulous on occasion all the while recovering from a nuclear disaster.  I do have good days, don't get me wrong and we are making progress.  I’m getting closer but I’m also shocked by where I find myself.  I don’t judge it, but I’m shocked by how little progress I've made.  The relief of his death and the end to his suffering has now passed.  Now I'm on to a deeper grief ~ missing the healthy and vibrant man I loved and lived with all those years before.  I’m just beginning to really grieve.  It's a good, hard and very sad development.  

But I trust my journals, things do change, eventually.  They always do.