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Archive for August 2012

coming to terms – year two

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Another year has gone by. I miss her. A lot. My daughter misses her. A lot.

Suffice to say, Mr. Lump in the Throat, makes regular appearances (just this morning I was putting away her shoes into boxes and……) .  At times, the emotional brain threatens to breakthrough to the surface but the firm hand of the rational brain quickly intervenes to prevent  any visible overtures. Some nights, I wake up with a startle. I have images of her moving about hale and hearty, and then suddenly something in my head is screaming “she is dead! gone! ” incredulously. I seem to be asking myself “Do you understand what that means?”  I toss and turn for a while till this subsides and I fall back into sleep. At other times, the events and experience feel unreal. The brain conjures up the image of a loved one being devoured by a beast against which you are powerless. Even now, thinking about what happened is very debilitating and I have to quickly divert to other thoughts to escape this local minima. Social conversations and jokes about wives take on a very different hue given the realization that you are not part of that group any more. Observing my own behavior more recently, I have wondered whether deep in the recesses there is a sliver of depression. I say this because of my consumption habits of late[ there is some evidence for this link].

But the bigger story over the past year is my daughter’s coming to terms and recent moment of catharsis.

Grief counselors may call it denial. Psychiatrists may have to refer the DSM manual to classify this behavior. The fact is, I still wear my wedding ring.  Strange as it may be to the outside world, wearing the ring has offered me an unexpected benefit : a window into my daughter’s mind. What I have repeatedly noticed is the following: on shopping trips to say Ikea or the mall, she will hold my hand. After a while, she will run her fingers over the ring and feel it.  She assumes that I am not noticing her do it.  In my mind, I think, much as she loves me, she’d rather be with her mom on these trips. My daughter also does this after family events.  She did this a lot during our recent trip to Las Vegas as if to say “I wish you were here mom”.

After 2 years, my daughter will now look at a picture of Lechi (my wife). But it is still highly emotional and prompts an immediate deluge of tears. For Mother’s day she wrote a beautiful poem using me as proxy for mom which I have published elsewhere on these pages. When Father’s day was approaching, I was dismissive but she told me that this was the only thing she could celebrate (I could feel the disappointment in her voice as she uttered this).  She has also been a mirror for my own behavior picking up that I am not smiling much and tries to cheer me up or finds ways to make me laugh.

The approaching month of July and August were a source of stress for her, as she constantly requested me to not remind her of the special dates (birth and death anniversary are just days apart). In fact, she was fine until just a few days before thinking a lot about mom, asking clarifying questions and showing not much emotion. A conversation with one of my wife’s sister’s seemed to have thrown open the floodgates. For two days and nights, it was a real emotional coaster as she decided to confront the reality of mom’s death, asking questions about what Lechi said to me about her, how much did she love her, what happened, details around her illness. Did you have a funeral? I[my daughter] was mean for not going to see her [at the funeral]. She was upset to learn about the cremation and wanted to know details. She asked me did she know she was going to die. She also asked me not to lie about this again. Did she cry when she knew she was going to die? She did so much for me [fed me, played with me, went to preschool]. My daughter did tell me that I should never remarry. It was tearing me up inside to watch her body language and facial expressions including her bouts of deep emotion laden crying (her eyes were literally bloodshot). I was also welling up inside as I was patiently answering her many questions. She did notice that my eyes were filled with tears but there was no outburst. During this process, the things she said were so profound that it was clear indication that she was making adjustments to her worldview. Brave and strong was how she described herself. She opined that mom’s passing felt like a glass sculpture that had just shattered. She felt in Life – there should be no sickness. In the same breath, she blamed me for what happened and then almost immediately apologized. She even rationalized that maybe Death is a good thing. Because of it she had met several interesting people (Jamie a friend, her school counselors etc.,) Of the counselors, she said their livelihood depends on people dying! She wanted to know how thinking about the good times makes one happy? I also shared with her that my wife and I had discussed taking walks together during retirement. My daughter immediately said to me “Heaven as a retirement home is not a place I can visit.” Deep indeed!  She was worried about me and promised to take walks with me in lieu of mom. How sweet! Clearly, she was thinking about the many ramifications and trying to connect the dots. She has set for herself the professional goal of becoming a pediatrician or a counselor.

This was a very important and much needed exchange. Post this, I have seen her carry herself as if a significant weight had been lifted of her shoulders.

But then, she was feeling the ring on a recent visit to Las Vegas. During a show – KA(Cirque de Soleil), the opening music had the power to stir emotions, and she leaned over to me and said she was sad. I asked why and she said because of you know who [thats how she refers to mom on many occasions].  But subsequently, her mood quickly picked up and she enjoyed the show. We also toured the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. It was breathtaking. That night, my wife was in my dreams. In the dream, she had come back after a long absence. I was so excited to have her back. I had so many questions to ask her. How had she been? What had happened in the intervening time…….It felt like nothing else mattered now that she was back…..only to realize it was a dream.

This I have figured is going to be the new normal as Father Time works assiduously to blunt the edges of these emotions. But we will always miss her. A lot.

Written by asterix98

August 17, 2012 at 6:37 am

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