I am getting back into the swing of things, sort of. The old swing of things is gone forever, but I am developing some new habits and getting a fair bit done.
Last night, I tutored and went to a small political gathering. I helped my student with working with tables in Excel. That went fine. She even has recommended me to someone else.
Then I went to the political gathering. It was very interesting. Democrats are organizing. The meeting was filled with people of different ages, nationalities, and income levels. This is America’s future. What a striking contrast to visiting my parents’ trailer park in Florida, where everyone is white, middle-to-upper class, and 60+. I spent time talking to a district representative who was probably in his thirties.
I am making connections. I am doing things I am good at. This is what I have been waiting for.
I came back to Michigan. My apartment is fine, but there was standing water everywhere. This was created by three factors: 1) almost two feet of snow sitting on the ground when I left, 2) more than twice the normal amount of precipitation for February in the space of a week, and 3) the ground is still frozen. Numbers one and three are perfectly normal. Snow and frozen earth in Michigan in February. I shrug my shoulders at the thought. It’s the three inches of rain in February that makes me say, “WTF?!” The Grand River flooded near Potter Park Zoo, of course. And the Red Cedar flooded on MSU’s campus big time. I’ve never seen that and I am 50. The frozen ground ensured that the water had nowhere to go and so it could do is to stand around waiting for the sun and/or wind to evaporate it away.
So I arrive home and the focus is on the weather. Hard to avoid. And it was still so warm that the larger piles of snow (from plowing the two feet) were still melting, which is the equivalent of it continuing to rain.
Eventually, the wind comes along and evaporates some of the water. Now, people can think about something, anything, else. And I want to be obsessive. I don’t want silence. I don’t want to be alone and have to function. I want to watch TV or listen to radio.
I am no longer numb from Barry’s death and functioning just feels too hard at times. I don’t know what I want. How much do I want to work? What do I want to do?
It’s weird to do some things without him. I went to get our taxes done. I actually filed jointly alone. How wrong is that? After all, we had always filed jointly and we were married all of 2017. I cried at the H&R Block. Barry and I had always gone together and he was always very compliant. We would make an outing of it and go to Barnes and Noble afterwards.
Last night, I threw out some of the queen size bedding I had still been using. That was hard, even though I have stacked the twin mattresses and the bedding had become unruly. I just didn’t want to be wrapped up in our sheets while I sleep alone. I felt the awareness that all objects contain energy and that I need to be careful what I keep around me.
I don’t know what I want. The numbness is gone and now the feelings are chasing me around without clarity.
I am in Florida with my parents. It’s my first outing away from Michigan since Barry’s been gone.
Today, we went to this big cat show (the show was small but the cats were among the largest on earth). One of the tigers was even named Barry! How funny is that? Part of why I went was to enjoy cats in a way that Barry would hate. Now I have a T-shirt with this Siberian tiger’s face on it, with Barry’s name! Too funny. His mate’s name was Mia and she is a liger (lion/tiger combo).
I love/hate the world my parents live in. It is so…manufactured. They live in a world of their own making. It is very quiet and restful (in some ways exactly what I need). They do exactly what they want to do when they want to do it. They are rednecks, surrounded by other rednecks and they are enjoying every minute of it. My parents are so good to me, but part of me just wants to escape. They do not live in the real world. When you can pick and choose the people that you see and deal with, you are not living in the real world. Period. This trailer park is filled with other people exactly like them: white, Midwestern, blue collar retirees. I haven’t seen a black, Hispanic, or Asian person yet where they live. My dad calls it “God’s waiting room.” That’s about it.
It’s a little creepy living in such an artificial world. My dad even defended keeping the Confederate statues without any sort of modern real-world commentary. Basically a defense of the KKK. Wow. He said they were part of history, with zero acknowledgment of what they mean to others and how much they have always been a slap in the face of blacks and a never-ending reminder of white supremacy. He said they were part of history, with no awareness that raping, pillaging, and plundering are also part of that very same exalted history. Every fiber of my being said, “Eeeeuuuwww.”
Every conversation is simply a reminder that I cannot be myself here. At all.
I just remind myself of what I am here for: to rest and recover from Barry’s death and to just get the blankety-blank out of the snowbound state I call home, Michigan. Just about any day outside of Michigan is a good day.
The weather here in mid-Michigan has been sucking, to put it nicely. I’m sure we’ve had a foot of snow this weekend and it is snowing now. Ugh. Mateo, the Weather Channel calls it.
Friday, I stayed home. There was no way I was driving in this crap. Watching the news, there were accidents on I-94. The problem is that people here are so used to snow that they don’t take it sufficiently seriously at times.
I’m trying to relax, but not doing a great job of it. Tomorrow is the one-month anniversary of Barry’s passing. I just never knew that someone’s death involved so much paperwork. I go from being numb to being overwhelmed.. Every little thing reminds me of him. When I talk about him, I cry. It can be little things, like going to bed and him not tugging on the covers.
Barry was such a good man. I will not miss the person he became in the last couple months, but I will miss forever the man I married. His sense of humor. His work ethic. His love for me, his kids, and his grandkids. The last few years were rough on me and him. The Huntington’s made everything so much more difficult. The past few years have emotionally exhausted me. Physically, I got the creeping crud in December and had it for a month and gave it to him, but his lungs were clear by January 3rd, according to the nurse practitioner we saw. My immune system had basically collapsed. I just couldn’t take care of both of us anymore. He had gotten over the cold/flu we had, but he had started to let go after he saw his grandsons on the 2nd of January. And he passed on the 12th. Suddenly, he was gone.
I’ve been trying to meditate without much success. I want to heal. I want to feel better or sometimes just something at all. The idea is to feel whatever I feel, but so far, I am not feeling much of anything other than occasional sadness and overwhelm. When I try to meditate, I can feel things swirling around beneath my awareness, but my brain cannot process anything.
I don’t want to see people because I don’t feel like there is a point. Talking does not help. I don’t know what would. That’s annoying.
Life without Barry has been overwhelming. So many details.
I go in and out of numbness. I spent the first couple weeks continuously numb. I could walk and act like a normal human, but that’s all it was: acting. People expect me to respond as a regular person. You know, the normal stuff, like updating my resume and seeking employment.
But my old world is gone. I got married at 21 and am now 50. I have spent my entire adulthood married. And I will likely always feel married. I got married and never got divorced. But I’m single? Huh? It may always be weird going to bed and not having him tugging on the covers. It is still strange to be done with an appointment and not need to hurry home because no one is there waiting for me.
I will emerge from this cocoon of marriage and identity. I have no identity now. I have been waiting for Barry’s death for so long. His suffering is finally over. The last couple years, neither one of us had any real quality of life. I can begin again. Why do I feel abandoned?
Barry was on hospice all of one day. It was, on the one hand, astonishingly fast, and, on the other, prolonged suffering and agony from Huntington’s Disease. His death was awful to witness. I cannot wait for the hospital bed to be removed because every time I see it (in the middle of my living room), I see how he looked in his last moments.
He passed with me holding his hand, telling him how much I love him. I believe he waited for the home health aide to leave so he could be with me alone. He was incapable of communicating. He was struggling to breathe. I had just given him another dose of morphine and was waiting for the hospice nurse to arrive. She arrived, despite the icy roads, and, within one minute, declared him dead. I asked, “Are you sure?” and she said, “Oh, yeah, I’m sure.”
Huntington’s is a bad way to go. Before the home health aide left, I commented that, if I saw a dog in that much suffering, I would have it put down. I am having him cremated because I want nobody to remember him the way he looked at the end. I want people to remember the good things about him, not the ugliness of the Huntington’s.
I have been widowed all of 48 hours. I have hardly stopped to breathe. For the past week, it has been nothing but a parade of people coming into the apartment and me signing tons of forms. He was rushed onto hospice and had not even seen the hospice doctor yet. I am waiting for things to calm down. It may be a while.
Today I got Barry on hospice. Things are happening quickly. At least I think so. Watch Barry prove me wrong and linger for a long time. He has stopped eating, so how long can he last given that he has no weight to spare?
I emailed a sister of his, letting her know about his being on hospice. She can let the rest of the siblings know–or not. These are not my favorite people and I debated telling even her. I even gave our address.
Tomorrow I will leave a message for his daughter. I don’t wish to see her, either, but this is her dad on hospice. If she wants her minor inheritance, she will have to provide a way for me to send it to her. We haven’t seen or heard from her since Christmas 2014. But this is it.
I am numb and that is keeping me functional.