Monday, September 27, 2010

Stunned, Numb, Sleepless, Tearless

I am simply shocked at my current state.  After the memorial service for my mother on Friday, a friend from high school came up to greet me. I was touched at his willingness to spend time attending this service, and to be there, as he put it, simply to support me.  He asked, "How ARE you doing?"  And I quickly said truth:  "Not well at all."

I am not doing well, whatever well is.  I spent some time with my oldest son and his wife over the weekend.  They also saw it.  I can't think well.  I'm barely coherent--if that.  

I'm not back at work.  Even simple decisions throw me.  Right now, I need some breakfast, and can't seem to make it to the kitchen to fix something.  

There are tasks everywhere that, should I do them, would leave me feeling better afterward.  It's just the getting up and doing them that seems so impossible right now.

Even in this fuddled, muddled state, I'm aware that all these are signs of depression. What I don't want to do is rush out and "fix" this depression with medication.  I think it is important that I explore this.  I need to find out what has happened here, why I am so thrown by this, and in the exploration, find a deeper healing, both for me and also a healing that might help others who are walking with me and reading about it.

Death just is.  We all experience it.  There is not one soul in this entire world that will not at some point be touched by loss and death.  It is our commonality.

However, I think for me there are two big things going on here that have made this particular death more devastating.  

The first was the fact that I spent so much time with my mother in the five weeks between the huge series of strokes that originally felled her on August 13, and her death on September 18.  I was never able to get off the roller coaster where I was being yanked back and forth from hope to despair.  All this was compounded by lack of sleep, and by the recognition that I did have medical power of attorney and did have to make decisions about this that were indeed life and death decisions and those decisions were made with a major lack of a more comprehensive understanding of how much damage the strokes did cause.

In the two weeks that we had her home under hospice care, I spent part of every day but two with her, and did not leave at all for the last five days.  I watched her die, inch by inch.  I saw the essence of her just disappear.  I have sat by the bedside of many, many dying people over the years, and especially in this last year.  I've grieved with their families.  Those experiences served me well, and gave me some strength to do what was important for my mother.  But they also mean that I walked into my own situation with a short supply of energy and emotional resources. I walked out completely empty.  That is indeed the first big thing.

But the second big thing I think is much more important.  I suddenly feel anchorless. I don't mean in the eternal, cosmic sense.  I am more aware than ever of the abiding presence of God.  I don't need to cling to that.  It clings to me.  I am in no sense abandoned.  But I have lost my anchor to place.  My mother and dad are both dead now.  My children have all moved far, far away.  Bonds to place, to geography, to a house built by my parents where family activities for that last 25 years all happened have snapped like aged and overstretched rubber bands.  

I personally don't own a house.  Since Keith and I married 12 years ago, we've lived in five different places, parsonages owned by churches, or in a townhouse we rented when a parsonage was not available.  I really, really enjoy living in Krum.  But I'm part of an itinerant clergy covenant.  I'm a sojourner here, serving at the wish and under the appointment of a Bishop.  The tenuous nature of my ties here hit me hard right now.

I told a friend yesterday that I feel like I'm floating in a hot air balloon with no idea where I'm going or how I'm going to land it again.  I have this sense that I want to toss out everything I own, divest myself of stuff and possessions, and ride the wind for a while.

But even when riding the wind, I need to eat.  I shall do that.  Now. I hope.

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