Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through the woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath. ~Lewis Thomas, physician, educator. Dictionary.com Columbia World of Quotations. Columbia University Press, 1996.
I hate semicolons. Don’t know how to properly use them. You won’t see many, if any, here in this blog.
I feel as though I’ve just experienced a semicolon in my life. I hate them there too.
We started this blog as a way to be frank and honest about what has been going on in our lives after Francis’s cancer diagnosis. I didn’t realize just how fitting the name of this blog would be to my life.
I have said good-bye to and buried my best friend and love of my life. I now begin to figure out where to go after this hated punctuation mark.
If I’m honest, I’m struggling to catch my breath and see the start of the path ahead.
The chaplain from Big Bend Hospice came for a visit a few weeks ago. Francis was able to join us briefly before heading to bed and leaving us to chat further. The chaplain asked me what inspired my honesty. I told him that I have nothing pretty in my life behind which to hide. I also told him I was worried about losing that honesty in the midst of my grief.
This blog has been a way for me to share what’s happening to us. It’s also been an avenue for me to steal a few moments and process my own thoughts. I hope to be inspired to continue to do this. I also hope that through the blog I can hold on desperately to the honesty that was helpful to me and to others.
I’ve spoken to people who have been grateful for the words I’ve written, and I’d love to be able to continue to be a help to those who read this. As I grapple with processing my own loss, I plan to use the blog to write about what my life “post-semicolon” is like. It will be my own, and without a doubt unique in the path along which it takes me.
To kick it off, I can only reflect briefly on what the first week of grief has been like.
Once Francis passed away and in the days that followed, the house was a flurry of activity. The drugs, medical equipment, and removal of his body all had to be addressed.
I had gone to the funeral home a few weeks earlier to make preliminary arrangements, so those decisions were already completed. There were still hundreds of decisions, if not thousands of decisions, to be made.
There were emails, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, and visitors that had to be faced. There was a trip to Jacksonville and a service and celebration that had to be planned.
In all of this activity, I didn’t have time to face the fact that Francis was really gone. I went to bed exhausted and my mind was racing the moment I awoke with all the items I needed to check off my to do list for the day. The next day was just a repeat of the previous.
Then, the day of the funeral arrived and I couldn’t get motivated to get out of bed. I felt like throwing up all the way to the cemetery, and felt crushed by my grief at the service with Francis’s coffin sitting before me – a painful reminder that our lives had gone so terribly off track. I was exhausted by the time the public celebration of Francis’s life was set to begin that afternoon.
Somehow, I was buoyed by the hugs and well-wishes at the celebration of Francis’s life. That continued into the evening, spent with family and friends.
Since that time, I’ve struggled to really understand this new stage of grieving for a lost spouse. I move from a sense of denial that Francis is gone to an intense awareness of my aloneness. I often feel that I should be a crying, broken mess because that’s how I have pictured grief.
Perhaps though, my perception of grieving is a bit off. More often I feel as if I’m just lost. I wander through my day without a real clear direction or motivation to do much of anything.
I’m sure the tears will come, perhaps often. I’m sure there will be tear-free days as well. There will also be days filled with laughter with Couper an Riley. All of these things are okay. I just need to understand that the grief I feel today is all part of the process.
After all, the rest of the path follows this semicolon, and I don’t know what the rest of the journey holds.