I took sustenance from tectonic plates
of complacency, believing
earth was solid, identity a given,
at least in my circles.
my legacy was safe, the particular
crystal ball in which I perceived my future
My, mine, my, mine.
All the while, you hid
behind matchbox cars, denial,
your room walled with secrets,
in battle with those same perceptions, despairing
over the vacuousness of your life.
A seismic apocalypse has freed you, opened
a hole of grief and loss for us.
We honor your passing with sorrow, wash
away the sadness with tears, pray that love
On a Wednesday night in October, a phone call puts my life on “tilt.”
Each day is different, so like mourning, ebbing and flowing in waves, some that soothe, some that flatten me onto banks of sharp shells. My son is dying and my daughter is being born. I tell one friend about it and burst into tears. I tell another and make a joke. This is huge. For thirty years, after a fire and a murder devastated my life, things were pretty normal. One awful death, but normal. No periods of being so crazy I’m speaking in tongues. I’m close to that again, Greenwich Village Liberal that I was and am, there are moments when I feel horror and something really embarrassing…shame. Feeling s rise up and slam me. It’s easy to be tolerant of something foreign, no so easy to be the foreigner in a new land.
My prayers are only to change me – and my husband, who is heart-deep in confusion and resistance. What if nothing changes for him/her? What if anxiety and depression return (he’s euphoric right now). Then he’s a woman with an anxiety disorder instead of a man with an anxiety disorder. We go to Chicago next weekend for a session with the therapist. We begin with…something.
I resolve to be there for my son despite the Halloween creatures that visit my dreams – nemeses from High School, people I long to impress, who detonate shame and fear, the humiliation of my ego.
This is the outline of my emotional experience the first day day.
I. The phone call and revelation
II. An appropriate parental response from Michael and me. Even a joke: “At least you’re doing it when it’s trendy.”
III. Shock sets in.
IV. The fight against nausea
V. Calling my friend in CA who went through this with her daughter
VI. Contacting the support group in NYC
VII. Nausea and fear
VIII. Enlisting my support group (AA)
IX. The back and forth of grief, all five stages at once.
X. Feelings of euphoria. I will go public. I’m a therapist, after all.
XI. Pain, nausea and fear
XII. Prayers for acceptance, prayers for radical acceptance.