Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (12)
May 17, 2020
Birth, Death, Joy, Grief (12)
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
· Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of 58 years (June 10, 2019) and best friend Eileen had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus, in February 2019. Eileen died on February 22, 2020, the day following the birth of our latest granddaughter Maria, and the funeral was March 4, 2020. This blog gives my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time looking at the space in my life.
05/17/2020 As I said, these ramblings contain all, including my fears and emotions. Right now, things are not so good.
Grief is a surprising thing. Many books describe these various moments, and they are correct. One can think that one is doing well, and life seems to be coming together, then WHAM! It hits so hard. I was looking at the pictures that we had assembled for Eileen’s wake on Mother’s Day, finding joy in the many wonderful pictures of Eileen, and saw two that had been taken two weeks before she died; one with nieces and nephews and one with her brother. The pictures were by her insistence, but the strain on her face was pronounced. We did not show her the pictures, but they hit me like a ton of bricks, and brought back so much of the pain of that time.
I became, and am, angry with God. Why Eileen? We were having a wonderful time in our life, she had done almost everything in her “bucket list”, and all should have been well for 10 years or more. But nature (and God) said no, now is the time. So I find myself in one of the stages of grief, being angry. Who else to be angry with but God? Nature is what nature is, cancer hits all over, and this pandemic is causing much grief throughout the world. Today, Tuesday evening, was filled with this. A good friend of ours, Don H, died this afternoon from the virus. This is the first to strike home, being a friend of almost 50 years. He was in a nursing home getting rehab for a knee problem when he contracted the virus almost two weeks ago. Last Wednesday he was transferred to the hospital and placed on a ventilator. His wife, Caroline, was given a chance to see him in the emergency room at that time. Caroline has been calling me letting me know the progress of the disease, and this afternoon she called with the dreaded news.
It seems so unfair, even though my head says it is part of life, and Eileen and I knew this would happen to one of us at some time – just not now. It is easy to say this will happen, nod one’s head knowingly, and go on – until it happens. Then the pain becomes real. First one is numb, so the real pain is not felt. Then with time the numbness wears off, like apparently in my case, and something occurs to open up the floodgates, unhampered by numbness – at least like it has been. Then the tears flow, again. And Anger! Don’t look crossways at me, for my response may not be civil. I find myself snapping at others over perfectly simple things. Luckily, I am locked down, and don’t see many others.
Without actually seeing those pictures, I can see in my mind the stress she is trying so hard to not show, to appear bright and cheerful (and she was, to the best of her ability) but it is clear and stark. It remains in my mind no matter what I do to let them sink into the past. That was the last time she could remain in her chair for any length of time, and if I remember correctly she was only in the chair once more.
So God it is. What is next? Stay tuned. I even have to tip-toe around myself!
Saturday eve: today I went to the funeral mass for Don. Only 10 were allowed, so I was happy to be one of the 10 when asked. All wore masks, except for the celebrant. The burial was to be private, family only. It was exceedingly difficult, but I am very glad to have gone, and talk (at appropriate distance) with Caroline,
Then there is my brother Tom in Ohio, who fainted on April 1, the 1stanniversary of his wife Mary’s death. He suffered a concussion, and three broken toes, but has been doing poorly ever since in the rehab facility: exhausted and struggling for breath. I have been talking to him almost every day. Yesterday they discovered he has pneumonia, low grade. Maybe that is what caused him to faint when standing up in the first place. He is in much better spirits and even feeling a little better with the anti-biotics, but still in has a ways to go. No corona-virus, thank heavens.
God seems to be telling me that “Times can be challenging, and this is what I have been preparing you for all of your life”.
Ok God, enough is enough.
Oh Gentle One, I know that You are carrying me during these difficult times. My anger and other emotions are waking up from the numbness that crept in over the past year and was magnified many-fold with Eileen’s sudden change for the worst and then death. Help me to see how much the entire world is suffering at this time, and see that my feelings of loneliness and separation pain is only one of the millions that are feeling the same. Help me to reach out to others in the same pain, as this is the road to joy You have promised me.