I am at a stage in my grief where the daily challenge of it has mostly worn off. It has been quite a while since I had a really bad day that I could definitely or mostly attribute directly to grief. But I have been dragging myself along for weeks and months, not really able to put a specific name to the malaise that was weighing me down. Every time I thought I was pulling out of the nosedive, some other triggering event would knock me for a loop, and I'd crawling around trying to make whatever progress I could with my spirits so low to the floor.
Strangely enough, and this is such an embarrassing fangirl thing to admit that I could not put it above the fold, Lorna Colbert's death has apparently affected me a great deal. It has pushed a button somewhere that I did not expect it to push.
I was sending a message about it to a close friend (who also lost both parents to death at a young age) and wrote the words, "now he is an orphan like us." And then I teared up a little, not really for Stephen, but for myself, remembering what it was like to lose my mother at 49 when my dad was already gone. To feel like 49 was too old to be falling apart like a baby, and yet I fell apart. To realize there is no such thing as being old enough or mature enough to lose your mother without losing a piece of yourself, especially if a loving relationship is dying with her. No such thing as being old enough to lose your remaining parent and deal with it without thinking well, that's it. I am the oldest generation now. Your own mortality is suddenly highlighted in a staggering way.
Of course I am self-aware enough to know this isn't really about Stephen Colbert. It's just an odd and unexpected trigger that has made my own grief pop its head above ground (it isn't buried very deep anyway). I am the oldest generation, but in my tiny family of one, I am also the last. No siblings, no children. Just me. My branch of the family tree has no offshoots. No buds. It all stops with me.
So I have been having disturbing dreams about, for lack of a better word, my "legacy". What will I leave behind to show I was here? "Leslie was here and now she's gone she left her name to carry on" like the kids used to write on the walls of my old neighborhood. There is a saying that a man in middle age starts to want a "book, a baby or a building." Something that will live on after him and be a testimony to his life that people can point to after he is gone.
That is where my grief is going today. My mom is gone, both my parents are gone, and I am the last of my "line" and feeling so morose that I am pre-grieving my own self. The album I never recorded, the songs I never wrote, the books I never wrote, eat away at me almost as much as the children I never had. If I discovered tomorrow that I had a terminal illness, would I tear my storage area apart looking for the chords and lyrics to those old songs? Would I write new songs? Would I finish my sermon collection? Would I finish the numerous other book and play ideas I have started and abandoned and finish something? Anything? Otherwise, what do I leave behind except a bunch of blog posts? Google cache is forever...
Maybe I should be thinking of my legacy in that way anyway, even without a terminal diagnosis. "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases." Although no doctor has put a specific time limit on it, I am going to die someday. Maybe I'll have a lot of years, maybe only a few, but perhaps feeling driven to build a legacy and leave something positive behind is a good thing that might help me regain enthusiasm for life. "He who is not busy being born is busy dying."
Anyway, I am caught in that age-old struggle of whether to stay stuck in the sadness and let it feed on itself, or summon up the energy to take the kind of specific actions that might get me unstuck. To call someone. To get out of the house instead of spending the day sitting at the computer in the corner (too late, I already did that today). To at least watch something different on TV. Apparently the Colbert Report is a re-run tonight. Not a surprise. I'll have to watch something different, or go to bed early.
This has been a hard year with a lot of death and reminders of death in people around me. I've been struggling to get out of this low place for most of the year and I can't stay here. There is too much work to be done. But even if I pull out of this specific blue funk I still have to deal with the larger issue of how my life goes on in spite of the pain of loss that seems to get triggered by such a wide variety of things. Somehow I have to find the motivation to do something except sit and wallow in it. And I have to look toward giving my life purpose by building a concrete positive legacy of some kind. What or how I don't know, but I think, I desperately hope, that is the key to getting fully engaged with joy again.
Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.
There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..
It just is.