Friday, March 15, 2013

Ask Any Robin or Blue Jay - Emp-t-ness

I couldn't quite figure it out.  I mean most of my feelings are obvious and to be expected.   At least that's  what the others have told me.   But there are other feelings that don't seem to fit into the stages of grief categories.  I know, everyone is different and each person reacts to grief differently.   Is that what these mystery feelings are?  Are they just my way?   Are they the winter blues in addition to the grief?
One of the photos I have of Joe, Anne and Domani, is one that I see when I first wake up in the morning.  Each and every time I look at that picture I have the same exact reaction.   It is a quick sharp intake of breath, followed by a shaking of my head in disbelief, and then finally a clutching of my heart in a gesture of overwhelming painful sadness.
The feelings of soulful melancholy, sharp sadness pain, fiery anger and the icy shock of acceptance are identifiable, to be expected and "normal".
I have adapted ways to cope with those types of feelings.
Most days, now, I adhere to a morning routine. This A.M. ritual is really a regimented form of intentional distraction.  It is my job.  My bonus comes in the form of an hour or two of peace.
But, it is the other nagging, unguarded and unexpected feelings that I seem to be experiencing more frequently.
I have two other children.
My daughter's family consists of a great husband, two especially wonderful kids, and four cats. They are excited to be happily expecting a third baby, a boy in a few months.
My youngest, a son, is struggling right now with the breakup of his marriage.   He is a father of the two of the cutest little boys in the world.  Yes, that is admittedly a biased grandmotherly opinion.  The boys live 800 miles away now.  It is a tough situation.
Joe's wife, my other "daughter" is simply special.   Their little boy,  is two and looks a lot like Joe did at two. In a word ADORABLE.
Just like most of today's families, my daughter and her family are stretched to the maximum. She and her husband have full time jobs, the kids have their extra curricular activities, and their calendars are full.  Baby number three will add another dimension of busy to their lives.  My contact with my daughter and the kids is usually by phone a couple of times a week.  Once or twice a month we manage a visit.
Even though My DIL's schedule is jammed packed, she reaches out to me on a regular basis. We connect with phone conversations and occasional visits.
My youngest son is lost in a sea of divorce, child custody battles and financial devastation. None of which were his choice.  My contact with him is mainly by phone and occasionally via Facebook.  Our visits are sparse.
Visits with my family are limited by layers of life.  One layer is their busy and complex lives.
The other layer is my self imposed hibernation.
My self imposed hibernation is where I spend most of time,  that is in  my various safety zones.
My main safety zone is my house.  My house is where I privately struggle with my grief, sadness, depression and anxiety.  
Another safety zone is my blog where I publicly struggle with my grief, sadness, depression and anxiety.  It is also where I have found much support.
My most import safety zone is Ross.  He provides the net and is the goalie protecting the net.  I could not get through the day without his support.

I had an Ah-Ha moment the other night.  I was speaking to my daughter, on the phone.  We usually speak during her micro segment of free time.  That's when she is preparing dinner.  I haven't quite figured out how she holds the phone while doing that, but she manages.
As is usually the case, the conversation was a five-way between Jen and me, Jen and Derek, Jen and Bella and mostly between Jen and Ryan.
As is usually the case, it went something like this:
Me:  How is everything, Jen?
Jen:  "Okay, it's okay.  Ryan, get down from there.  I mean it... now!"
Jen:  (to me, I think) "What's going on over there?"   "Bella, did you do your homework?"
Me:  "Oh, nothing much."
I hear water running, clanging of pots and pans, the sounds of the table being set.
Jen:  "Doctor says everything is good with the baby."
          "What did you say Derek?"  "No, look over there, that's where I put it."
Me:  "That's good, about the baby, I mean.  I bet you are relieved."
Then I hear Derek in the background calling the kids in for dinner.   I hear chairs shuffling and the kids arguing over who sat in the special seat last.
That's when it hit me.  That's when I figured out the mystery feelings.
I felt like a hungry observer.  I was an uninvited guest, pressing my face up to a fogged up clouded window, peering in, trying to be part of a life that isn't mine... anymore.

Ah Ha! "Empty Nest.  That is probably the cause of my mystery feelings. Intellectually, I understand that is the normal progression of life.  Ask any robin or blue jay.  I expect that by now we should have found our new niche.  But, our so called golden years have been tarnished.  Emotionally, I am having a hard time accepting the "normal" progression of life, because, you see, life didn't progress normally for me.  My son wasn't supposed to die.

To be brutally honest, for now my safety zones are what keep me teetering on the edge of the ledge, not going over.  They keep me from looking down.  Even though they may be a little shaky, my feet are planted right here on this side.

In my fantasy world, my dinner table is full.  Jen, Derek, Bella, Ryan and the little one.  Joe, Anne and Domani.  Jimmy, his wife, Kenny and Ty.  You know the way it used to be.


  1. I know how you feel. When we lose a child, I think that our heart aches( I describe it as a HOLE in my heart), so much, that we need our other children and grandchildren MORE! They all have busy lives and we struggle with wanting more of their time.I sometimes wish that my children were young again and needed ME MORE! EMPTY NEST SYN FOR SURE!! You are not alone!

    1. Yes, it’s true, a hole in my heart is exactly how I feel. Thank you for your understanding.

  2. I'm glad that expressing your views on your blog helps; writing can be very therapeutic for many of us. Thanks for sharing your views. I'm not going to blithely assure you that "it will get better." But I'm pretty sure it won't get worse.

    1. Sometimes I think I share too much, but I feel so much better after I write. I know you understand.

    2. Lynda, really, you do not share too much. I, for one, am honored that you choose to let me and your other readers into your intimate world. It makes me know my own humanity (that might not make sense but I know what it means to me - you reach out and I can respond). Your grief and sadness have a ripple effect which allows me and others to hold our loved ones close..... knowing ,full well, that our time for grief and sadness will come. I am glad you write, glad that you share your life and feelings, glad that you have family - especially the King of all Things Good. Does Ross know he is the king? :)

    3. Your supportive comments are very important to me. This particular comment, today, came at just the right moment.
      Thank you, JT.
      So I have to tell you that I feel especially honored that you single handedly typed all of those words for me :)
      I think Ross knows he is Kingly :). He wears that knightly armor well. And believe me, there are times when he also has to carry a very large shield.

    4. I'm glad you were able to hear my comments, Lynda. They are real and true.
      Kudos also for getting the trials of left handed pecking! WWF is so much easier to play - if only goddess of letters woul cooperate!
      Hugs to the king! A good king uses a shield very effectively.

  3. I dread the day that my kids grow up and go. My mom says that hobbies help. And we visit frequently. But it's not the same.


    Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

    1. I Thanks for the hugs. I realize now, that how my mom must have felt. I should have visited more often.