Since Beau died, people regularly ask how I am doing. It’s a good question, and one that I would like to answer, but I have no idea how I feel. The truth may be, and I haven’t figured this out until now, that I feel dead too.
In some ways my grief feels like Alzheimer’s disease. I can move but I can’t think. I can’t remember what people just told me. I can’t really hold a thought in my head. I can’t follow the story line in a simple Hallmark movie. I’m so numb that I can’t even cry.
I almost feel like I am ready to move to Juniper Memory Care and take my father’s old room. But as the next Bercaw up to bat for AD, there will be plenty of time for that.
The question now is how do I get back to the world of the living? I know the answer is time, and friends and family. To live with curiosity about all things, just as Beau did. To expand my son’s mind, as my father did to mine. But for now, time will have to wait. Or pass. Because I’m stuck in a moment. A moment between having a dad and not having one. A DMZ between him and me, then and now.
What I am saying might sound scary, but it’s not. I think it’s a safe space in the way that demilitarized zones are intended. I’ll keep moving in space and time, and eventually my brain will catch up with the rest of my body.
“Funny how things turn out,” was one of the last things my father said to me. And it is funny to me that my brain feels like the one in a jar now.
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If you had to put a name to the place you exist (the moment you are stuck in) right now, it might be a purgatory of peace. As you know and witness on a daily basis, I, too, am going through something I never have before with the loss of your father… I have come to the conclusion that it is not up to me to figure out what I am going through but just go through it, complete with the constant lump in my throat, the sick feeling in my stomach, and this lack of being in tune or in sync with anyone or anything around me. I don’t look forward to having a future with AD and all signs point to the fact that I won’t. The reality is that my mortality isn’t really that important in the scheme of things unless it affects my family which is the most important thing in my life. So I kinda sorta understand what you are saying about being stuck and I am glad you are not afraid, and I am sincerely thrilled that you are able to say it and write it down for us all to share.
I do not believe in what our culture has said: “time heals all wounds.” What time can do for us, I believe, is to acclimate us to a different pattern of thinking, but grief is not an intellectual thing. I believe grief is a broken heart. We do need time to adjust to a behavior without a loved one. It took me a very long time to “remember” that Ed was no longer in my world. Weeks after his death I found myself bursting out in tears in the grocery store when I caught myself trying to find the specific item he liked. Why did my mind not remember that I couldn’t feed him any more!? Time helps me to form new ways of thinking and to change familiar behaviors; I no longer operate as if he is still here. But time passing does not change the emotions that accompany a broken heart. A broken heart needs other solutions.