One of the most unexpected things about grieving the loss of my husband is how much energy it seems to expend. All my actions and thoughts seem to be much more difficult than they were back in March, and I become physically and mentally exhausted from the smallest efforts.
My world has become blanketed with thick fog, and I the ship’s captain straining my eyes to find the lighthouse, that beacon that wimageill lead me home unharmed. The exertion is draining mentally and physically, but it is only the thought of safety and warmth that keeps me upright and trying. No matter how difficult it is, I must keep moving and searching for my protected harbor, a place to rest.
I begin each week with a reasonably lofty goals about something I’d like to see accomplished by week’s end – start cleaning the garage, prepare several meals at once so they can be unfrozen and heated throughout the week, begin a workout regimen, finally finish those Thank You notes. (I actually have started that last one, but it is taking much longer than it probably should. How can I properly express how grateful I am to people for being there for me? How can I let them know how a simple card, or message or plant delivered at just the right moment sometimes is all it takes to keep me from having a complete breakdown some days?)
None of the tasks should be daunting. I’m trying to take it easy on myself and not expect everything to be finished completely, or even started, for that matter. It shouldn’t be too much to ask to at least begin one of these tasks one of these weeks.
But between my body feeling as though it has been battling wind and waves all day and my mind being filled with haze and cobwebs, apparently I am pushing too hard and my subconscious knows this and is preventing me from overdoing it.
This morning I was in the shower, wracking my brain trying to remember if my aunt’s birthday was today or another day in August. Had I missed it already, or was I confusing the date with someone else’s?
Aunt S was my “Summer Mom”, as she likes to call herself. As a child, I would spend weeks at a time in the hills of Tennessee where my mother grew up, and suitcase in hand, I would trudge through the fields from Granny’s house to my aunt’s, moving in with her for the duration. She had a daughter close to my age, and my cousin and I would spend a great deal of time together, often driving my aunt a little crazy in the process, as neither one of us could exactly be considered tidy. But she loved having me there (her words, not mine!) and I’ll still get an occasional card or phone call from my “Summer Mom”, although these days it’s often to thank me for that special trip last Summer. To A and I, it hadn’t been that big a deal, just a few hours out of our way on a 24-plus hour trip, but it meant the world to mom and her sisters. Even more so looking back and realizing it was Aunt J’s last.
So while I stood there trying to remember, it really struck me just how foggy my brain has become. I’m often at a loss for a particular word, generally a common one that I use frequently. The other day I realized that I had four containers of cream cheese in the refrigerator; I keep buying things at the grocery store mistakenly thinking I’m in need of them because I’m grocery shopping mindlessly. And I’ve been scaring even myself with my autopilot driving these days (you know, when you travel a route on a regular basis and you sort of zone out in the middle of the trip some days? I will actually “come to” midway realizing that I’m not sure I had even been looking at the road and think, “well, that ain’t good!”)
In some ways, maybe all of this fog and confusion and lethargy makes sense; I’ve been through a traumatic experience. Even though I’m not recovering from a surgery or a car accident, I’m recovering from an unexpected blow to my very existence. My world has been shattered and I’m left to pick up the pieces. Then I’m expected to rearrange these fragments in an effort to create something new and different from the shards. That has to take a great deal of energy to accomplish, doesn’t it?
I suppose it will be up to me to make sure the life I eventually piece back together is just as imagebeautiful as the one I had before, even though it will have drastically changed. It won’t be an easy task, especially given my limited resources, but my goal is to have the fog lift in time to witness a beautiful sunset.