A DIFFERENT SHADE OF GRIEF

Here’s the thing: many know that there are stages of grief and that everyone goes through them differently. Many also know that there is no such thing as “getting over” grief; you only slip and slide through it.

But nowhere yet have I encountered any article, any book, telling me there is an other-worldly component to grieving.

*After posting the sad news on social media about my husband’s sudden death, and receiving many prayers, thoughts, and virtual hugs, I woke up at two in the morning barely a week later and posted an important update: I desperately needed coffee NOW. The background I chose was a plethora of smiley faces, all laughing hysterically. (I’m sure many friends were scratching their heads.)

*I walked into the Acme supermarket, stood near the rice and burst into quiet tears. My recently departed spouse hardly ever bought that particular brand of rice. Or any rice. We didn’t even have rice thrown at us at our wedding. It was raining and soggy rice just wouldn’t have cut it.

*I’m humming Christmas songs long after the decorations are put away and we’re segueing towards spring. And there’s no holly jolly in them–“I Wonder as I Wander,” “Silent Night,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

*Just like in pregnancy, I have cravings. Right now I crave dark chocolate; it’s what’s for breakfast (and maybe lunch and dinner). Next week it might be pomegranates, whatever they taste like.

*Even though I am deep into the fun of menopause, I’m stacking sweaters on top of sweaters to ward off an imaginary chill. I wobble instead of walking.

*I cut my finger on the envelope of a sympathy card and, amazed at the red stuff and the knife-like pain, thought, how appropriate. No, my husband did not die of a paper cut. No blood was lost on his part. Probably a reminder that I’m still alive and kicking.

* I shudder when I am referred to as a widow. It conjures up thoughts of ancient women wearing black gauzy veils over their faces and smelling of decaying carnations. Give me my makeup and fragrant tea roses and a glass of chardonnay, and call me “the surviving spouse” instead.

–Anne Skalitza, 2019

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Lost Among the Gurneys

December 9

7 am–I’m at the hospital, wondering as I wander. My older son needs minor surgery today. As he’s whisked away on a gurney,  I’m told to sit in the waiting room, right around the corner.

Five minutes later and I’ve lost my way. I finally meander into a waiting room but the lights are out and the coffee machine is stone cold. I am in desperate need of caffeine and a map of the place. I wonder if they’ll find me.

7:45 am–After flagging down another lost person, we find our way to the correct waiting area. I settle in but realize that I lost my purse. A wonderful young man who works here probably sees a woman who looks like she’s in the early stages of dementia. He helps by walking me through the hallways to where I first sat, then after retrieving my errant purse, guides me safely back, past patients being wheeled on stretchers and gurneys into the sunrise. At least they know where they’re going.

9:30 am–After three cups of coffee and four bathroom breaks, I see my son being wheeled on a stretcher down the corridor. I rush after them. The transport person eyes me and says, “We looked for you. You must have been in the wrong waiting room.”

December 10

My older son is out and about. I’m on the couch, resting up from yesterday’s ordeal.