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Posts Tagged ‘writing through my feelings’

(Content warning: death)

It’s hard to get back into writing when you’ve stopped abruptly. Harder so when you don’t feel like writing. Or when you try to write but only one thing comes out on the page. Well, writing is a muscle, like anything. So let’s exercise it. And, in doing so, hopefully exorcise the sadness that is blocking the words from flowing.

  • My friend died a few weeks ago. There’s no way to soften that statement or the impact it has. We were friends for twenty years and now she’s gone. I was able to fly to her state for her funeral, and I’m very glad my husband’s schedule enabled him to take Carla to school and pick her up and that we had plenty of airline points and that my life is flexible enough to allow for it. I got to hug her parents and sibling and see a couple of friends we had in common and grieve in a space filled with other people who truly understood my feelings and knew exactly what I’d lost. I got to say goodbye. I am very lucky she was my friend.
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time being mopey and tearful and engaging in very trite philosophizing about death and what it means to die, what it means to be left behind. Hard as it is to believe, there is something worse, though, than college-freshman-level meditations on the finality of death. My thoughts turn, of their own volition – believe me, I try to reroute them – to my own death, the death of my parents, the death of my husband, and the death of my child. The same creativity I depend on to write actual fiction is now eagerly developing detailed and gruesome ends for those near and dear to me, and my melodramatic brain is DISTRAUGHT at these entirely imaginary scenarios. It’s been delightful a) living inside my brain and b) living with me, I’m sure, although my husband has been very kind.
  • Carla has that particular first-grade pragmatism around the subject and she has been curious and sympathetic, both announcing to random people at unexpected moments that “mommy’s friend died” and asking me multiple questions about death, burial, cremation, etc. It’s been helpful to me, in that it reminds me that death is a fact. It happens to us all. There’s no reason we can’t have frank, matter-of-fact discussions about it.
  • I’ve never wanted to be buried. I’d much rather be turned into a tree when I depart this mortal coil. It’s good for the environment and it offers a nice shady spot for my loved ones to visit should they feel the need. Obviously, everyone has their own preferences, and each option has (I’m sure) benefits and disadvantages. We’re lucky we live in a time that allows for so much customization of the death ritual. I don’t think I’d want a wake, for instance – although I can definitely understand why it’s so important for many people. It was helpful for me to see my friend’s body, to say goodbye in person, but also to see that she wasn’t there anymore; the life force that made her her had so clearly left her corporeal self behind, and that was important for me to experience. It was also nice (“nice”) to have a space for talking and remembering and hugging that was separate from the somberness of the actual funeral. Maybe I am talking myself into a wake. Although perhaps wakes are more of a religious tradition than a funerary one; I’ve only been to two in my life and both of the deceased were Catholic. When my husband’s grandmother died, we sat Shiva with his relatives; this had the same feel as my friend’s wake, but there was no open casket. I’m guessing other religions have their own versions, and maybe there’s a non-religious option I can ascribe to. I know I can look this stuff up but I’m not at the actual planning stage; more still in the sad musing stage.
  • Another choice that I can understand going either way: I really want a program at my funeral/memorial service. As at a wedding, I think it’s helpful to the attendees to have something they can hold in their hands, something to distract them should the homily go too long or should they feel grief overwhelming them, something that lays out the details of the readings and the songs and the people presenting them and sheds additional light on the deceased and her life/loves/preferences. I can see how difficult that could be for the living, though, to have to prepare such a document in a time of staggering sadness; another reminder that it is helpful for the living if we plan for our deaths in advance.
  • I’ve also been contemplating friendship a lot lately. I don’t make friends easily and I have a very strong sense of boundaries, so I have only a handful of people I feel very very close to. My husband, mhigh-school best friend, my college best friend, my grad school best friend, and two or three others that don’t fall into quite such neat categories. All of them, with the exception of my husband, live in different states (from me and from each other!). Some of them, I haven’t seen for years. My friend who died (the college best friend) – I was fortunate enough to see her the summer before last; previously, we’d gotten together for lunch about a year before; prior to that, I hadn’t seen her since my wedding, in 2008. In the interim separations, we kept up via one- to two-hour-long phone calls every month or so, during which we downloaded everything that needed catching up on. (It was never enough time to truly hear everything.) This is true of my other close friends as well. We’re so far away that our friendship survives almost entirely via phone or email. It works for us, but I am feeling some urgency about getting in more regular face time with these dear people. And, as I’ve posted before, sometimes there are ebbs and flows of relationships – especially, perhaps, those that don’t have the benefit of frequent in-person encounters. I’m feeling more panicky about that, too. There’s so little time we have on this planet. It’s so precious. Why aren’t we sharing more of our lives with each other, more often? Should I be FORCING my long-distance friends into increased interaction? Should I be ramping up my search for an In Town best friend? Should I be insisting that we find a way to see each other, cost and vacation time and family priorities be damned?
  • To get out of my mire of sadness, I’ve been: Exercising  – there’s nothing like panting in a room full of women all working on their plank form to keep your mind off death (the cooldown at the end, where we lie in corpse pose and let our minds free-flow, not so much). I’ve been avoiding the news if I can help it; it’s all terrible anyway but the pull of the awfulness is stronger than usual. I’ve been trying to spend more time outdoors, because my city is glorious at this time of year; the leaves are changing and the sky is brilliant blue and you can wear the sunshine like an extra layer of clothing against the chill that has infused the air. I put up the Halloween decorations, which I enjoy almost as much as decorating for Christmas. And I’ve been especially busy with appointments and housework and Carla’s school activities and watching football, which helps to redirect my feelings from panic about loss and the everyone’s inevitable demise to panic about being over-scheduled.
  • Writing about my friend helps. She was a remarkable person, and if I weren’t so determined to maintain a semblance of anonymity here on this blog, I would write more about her because you would find her inspiring; everyone who knew about her felt that way. But I will stick to writing about my feelings. Thank you for reading, even if it’s not the light and fluffy absurdity-tinged day-to-day ridiculousness you normally expect from this site.
  • I’ve also been overdoing it on the comfort food and comfort wine. So I’ve been weaning myself off of that and am back to weekends-only wine and planning healthful meals. I think I will even have enough energy to do this week’s meal-planning post, which I have skipped for a couple of weeks now. I am slowly getting back to normal. Or, slowly building a new normal – one in which my friend can no longer participate outside of my memories. It’s not easy. I will continue to take it one day at a time.

Tell me something cheering or distracting, please, internet.

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