Sunday June 10, 2012
It is not unusual for me to wake up with a song playing in my head. Well, actually I haven’t had one in a long time as I think about it. But this morning, after a few minutes awake in bed, here came the words, a song Dave would take lead vocal in his bluegrass days: “Don’t you call my name, ‘cause I won’t answer, Don’t you call my name, ‘cause I won’t be there.” Ouch. I’ll just let this sit a while.
This was not the topic I started out to write about. In my head, I have been threading my reflection in continuation of my last writing on Post-op. Almost immediately after hitting the publish button to upload on the website I felt a bit naked, like perhaps I have tipped over the edge of angst! I know I can always withdraw my work at anytime, but I also know that screams and a bit of over-the-top feelings are all part of grief, loss and life. I am here warts and all.
The great part of writing is that once the on paper scream was out it served its purpose for me: to open my eyes to my deeper feelings. And it also helped me start a conversation with a thoughtful and caring friend almost immediately after posting, when she helped me talk it through during a long distance phone call.
I am feeling sooo inpatient. Why, oh, why? This is a recurring theme. Maybe I have some A-type personality over-achiever, over-thinker gene? I am impatient to take solace in the comfort of work and doing. (I’ve lost my job as caregiver.) It has, as pointed out to me, only been a couple of weeks since surgery for a procedure that I was warned would take a couple of months of recovery. And Dave’s death is recent. I would say the same thing to anyone else. “Give yourself time,” is the appropriate advice.
Time is the answer. From the outside in, the time has been short: a couple of weeks, a few months. From the inside out, I can see that I have been on a two year journey. I have been on both emotional and physical roller coasters diverting me from what I believed to be my work, Storybooks for Healing, as well as do the difficult and ongoing work of grief itself. It has been over two years since the first loss when my Storybooks for Healing business partner and I dissolved our relationship, much like a divorce from what I can ascertain, and I was awarded custody of the essence of the program. I spent months rebuilding myself, my mission, and rebranding the work. I had to take on the tasks of what had been slated to two full-time people and gave myself room to be patient to do so. It took me several months to begin getting some traction once again. That was just enough time for Dave’s cancer to grow as it was in that Fall of 2010 that his terminal lung cancer was diagnosed. So I began the critically important work of caring, learning, writing and walking through grief as his partner to his illness and support in his life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Six months later hospice became the choice and destiny for our lives. And in his amazing grace, Dave continued to teach and take the podium from our bedroom with lessons about end-of-life for almost a full year. And like others before me who care for loved ones, the caregiver’s work began to take its toll on me physically. I would not say that it caused my current problems but I certainly recognize the contributing factor of stress and physical exertion. (SCDS is likely a congenital or early childhood development disease). And finally, after a period of time for adjustment to Dave not being here since his death in February, and after finishing up some other obligations, I could turn my attention to my personal health and, literally, head into surgery. Through it all I have carried the theme of maintenance for staying the business, my dive-into-work lifestyle (Dave was a workaholic, too!) and sharing story. I have been fortunate to have the resources to do so. I also must note that life and work have been inseparable for quite some time.
That’s a lot of compounded losses to consolidate! But it’s been longer than two years, not four months. Impatience? Maybe not so much. I am ready, and excited, to start on my new path. Even throughout the dissolution, illness, and caregiving I have carved out moments of creative dreaming for my work and future. I just have to take deliberate and steady steps as I regain my balance both physically and emotionally. That’s where patience comes in.
Back to my conversation with my friend, I was given a thought to ponder: “Be the Storyteller, not the Story” she said. (Write it down!) It instantly resonated with me, although I can’t actually tell you why or what this means. I can only interpret for myself in the moment. My first response at once, was that the fresh online blog of my post-op was my story. This is where I feel naked, as opposed to vulnerable. What I am going through now in my health is feeling like hanging out my story with the laundry. I may write in a voice that is a storyteller, but I feel like the direction is becoming my story. No! Back up. Grief Reflection was started for the single purpose of sharing this caregiver’s thoughts. That role died with Dave.
I don’t want to head this way – my direction is to be the storyteller. And more importantly, my direction is to help others discover their story and become the storyteller in their lives, specifically in the legacy of grief, loss and bereavement. This is the converging path for my journey. It was the intended path (in my opinion) when the first Storybooks for Healing curriculum was launched. It was the redirected path when Grief Reflection became my methodology for the rebranded Storybooks for Healing. It has been the connection to family and friends and the world throughout Dave’s illness and certainly for him in his teaching career. Being the Storyteller is my conscious way of life and business for almost a decade, even before Storybooks for Healing!
In the last two years as I’ve identified, reflected upon, and shared my loss stories I’ve transformed into a stronger person ready to take the next steps. Those seemingly divergent pathways in my recent years are now coming into a single focus, one path. I’ve been writing about and feeling these roads come together for the last few months on this very deep and personal work. I am ready. Like Dorothy, I am taking the first ruby-slippered step onto the Yellow Brick Road after landing in a strange land.
I need me.
I need me to use what currently limited energy I have to concentrate on my work so I can give me my full attention on assisting others on their grief journey. I need me to build my health, my business and my future. I am giving myself me now, in order to give hard earned experience to others in the near future!
This is my last post on Grief Reflection in this format. It’s time has ended. Soon, this blog will be merged into a new website along with the Storybooks for Healingg program and community journal center. It will all be given a new name, a new look, expanded custom photo projects for preserving memories, online workshops, and opportunities for group or private support. The site will provide multiple pathways designed for individuals to join a community to discover, create and share their journey of grief and loss on the way to a stronger future.
No matter how young or old, death and loss changes us. Going forward, I will still grieve, observe, study, write, cry, laugh and remember, because this is what is human life, and at the center of my own little universe. In two weeks or three months or four years, I will be there. I will be there, along with others, to help you become the storyteller in your life of your stories on your journey of healing.
Now we know why I am feeling so impatient! There is much to do.
Much love and in great gratitude for your support,