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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

So I’ve really not been ok. I don’t think I realized how far under the water I was until I started to surface recently. I don’t know how I mistook the murky deep for light or air. All I know is that I didn’t know how bad I was feeling until I started feeling better. Depression is tricky that way. It’s like the frog who doesn’t feel the water getting hotter as he starts to boil because it’s been happening so gradually.

Thankfully I have found a good nurse practitioner who recognized the need to up my medication. Every once in a while I’ll have these flashes of hope and light, and their existence is quite a surprise to me. That buoyant feeling means its working!

My new therapist reminded me that in the past six months I have moved across the country, left my job, left my girlfriends, AND my sister died. So a little depression really shouldn’t be surprising me–or a cause to panic. I LOVE her. People think you have to be crazy to go to a therapist. I say I’d be CRAZY not to see one. She helps me realize that I am quite sane.

So, I’ll be here, trudging along–skipping occasionally–and working my way up out of the water.

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Well, I didn’t hate Christmas. It didn’t suck. Surprisingly. Though I did have a few moments where I wanted to hurl myself off of the mountain side because the physical pain would have felt much better than the waves of grief that shoved me hard underwater at random and unexpected times. I found myself muttering dumb dead sister; sad and mad and totally resistant to the fact that I had to be without her. I’m just glad it’s over.

But all in all it really was ok. I mean, we didn’t have to spend 20 hours in the car to see our family–AND Dan and I got to stay in a hotel while Grandma Judy supervised the cousins sleepover party at the Noyes house. Sleeping in never felt so good. I also must mention the hours that Sadie and Grampa John (Smith) spent together watching the strongest man contest on ESPN. I kept hearing Sadie gasping and yelling Grampa! That guy just pulled a TRUCK with his BARE HANDS! And then he would make some comments and I would hear him chuckling. She was so into it.  I think it was a highlight for him too. Nothing like a FULLY ALIVE six year old to ease the pain of loss–even if for a short time.

Now that I’m back, I’m concentrating on making some changes that I think will help lift the funk I’ve been living under. As usual, it starts with my House. I’ve been so paralyzed since August. Not like I was super house functional before (um…….) but for the last few months it’s been TORTURE to do even the smallest thing around the house. I’ve done a lot of wandering and napping and more than my share of self-loathing. I’ve felt lost and listless and just plain despondent. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that grief hangs on and hangs on and looks sometimes like depression and/or laziness and a lot of times like personal failure. But I’m not going to beat myself up anymore. I’m not going to stare helplessly around me and believe that I cannot move forward, because I can. I can take teeny tiny steps–I can start small and declutter one shelf, one drawer, one lazy susan at a time. I can decide to look through a smaller frame and refuse to be overwhelmed. I can believe that I don’t have to be perfect.

Also, I’m going to do a lot of running. I need all the endorphins I can get.

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So I swiped my sister’s journals while I was home this weekend. I was looking for her CDs (that girl had more music than anyone I know…) and while I was rifling through her stuff (I’m getting used to it now–I don’t feel so much like a scavenger or an intruder) I found the journals. She didn’t like writing very much, so there were only a few–and I felt like I was ready to read them.

Side note: I did contemplate the ethical dilemma of reading her private thoughts. I pictured my own piles of journals and wondered: how would I feel if I was gone and someone read them? Maybe I’m a freak of nature or something, but to me, I want the people who love me to read them. I want Sadie to know what it was like to be me, and that life has ugly stuff and pretty stuff, and that everything that happens to us or that we think about or that we do is a part of what makes us human–beautiful–made in the image of God, yet fallen. And my reason for wanting to read my sister’s journals was that I desired to understand more of her than what I knew on the surface.

As the big sister I had come to some conclusions about her life(style) and who she was over the past several years that were not positive. Her seemingly constant neediness wore me out, and I was exasperated with her continual string of bad decisions. I assumed (in that annoying holier-than-thou way that I can sometimes (!) have) that because of the way she lived and the choices she made that she must not have really cared about God or her faith.

I am humbled and ashamed.

Reading her journals this weekend not only gave me insight into who she really was, but also revealed parts of me that are darker than I have cared to admit. I like to think of myself as understanding and tolerant. I also think I may be delusional. Because what I read–my sister’s most intimate prayers to God–showed me what a real human being looks like. One who struggles and fails, but who wants to be right with God. She prayed for me all of the time–almost in every entry. Meanwhile I was passing fierce judgment: why couldn’t she just live right? Like I did?

I was confronted with Grace again–that horrible, amazing truth: there is NOTHING I can DO to make God love me more; there was NOTHING she could have done to make God love her less. Neither of us could earn His love or lose it–no matter what did we did right, or wrong. It so has to do with Him, not us. Keeping the rules isn’t going to save me any more than breaking the rules was going to keep salvation from her.

What really blows me away is that God is still fond of me despite my pettiness, my arrogance, and my pride.

Now THAT is good news.

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I started running after my sister died. Well, running is a little ambitious to describe it. Let’s just say someone walking at a very brisk pace could lap me repeatedly. I always thought I hated running, but somehow–right now–it is the only thing that seems to make sense to me. When I’m running, I feel like I’m right where I am supposed to be, doing exactly the right thing. I don’t have mundane things over my head like ‘I should be unloading the dishwasher right now,’ or even meaningful things like ‘I should be sending thank you cards to people so they know I’ve appreciated their kindness during my sorrow.’ Both of those things are important to do, and both feel like insurmountable tasks sometimes. I may not be able to do them, but I CAN run.

I was trying to figure out what is it about running that feels right, and I wrote this in my journal on Tuesday after I came home from the gym:

Running and stretching open me up. I feel creative and alive and connected to myself. I like the feeling of being present–I’m all there when I’m running. It’s like meditation: focused but loose–and I feel released and peaceful afterward. The rock-huge boulder that holds my mind back from motivation is rolled away. I feel worshipful. Joyful. Open.

I’m intrigued by this joy I feel in spite of my sorrow. I don’t know how connected to running it is, but I am experiencing something I never understood before. That I can be mourning and grieving, but underneath know deep joy. Not happiness, necessarily. But a right-ness. Peace that passes all understanding, perhaps?

The sun and the beauty and leaves and the smell of wood stoves and the crisp fall weather–even the pinecones on the tree in my backyard–they are all trying to tell me something. Being in this place, connected to these people at this very time–all of it feels like God is saying: I’m with you. I love you. This grief is not forever. I have plans for you. Look around! See my hand. I am here.

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I was stretching at the gym earlier, and I was a little bit startled to see Tate’s feet. I had her little footie socks on that she always wore, and my brain changed my wide, chunky feet to her delicate, dainty ones–including her little chicken ankles.  I swear, I was wearing my sister’s feet, like pretty little sock-shoes. I blinked and they were my feet again, but how BIZARRE.

I wish I could talk about something else, but this is it, and here we are.

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Today was a rough one. I was listening to my ipod, bopping around–unloading the dishwasher happy as you please–when I heard this tiny snippet of a song. It reminded me of a song that my mom used to play when my sister Tate and I were little. It wasn’t even the SAME song. It just reminded me of it. I gasped and was surprised when the crushing weight of grief just pounded me. Now I know where the feelings were hiding. I just cried and sobbed and kept saying to God “I want my sister back. Please send her back.”

Tate and I had this joke about the times when we were super-over-the-top emotional. We would say ‘that one goes into our Pathetic Scene File.’ As if there were a notecard box that held all our sad, dramatic moments. I thought of that when I was laying on the kitchen floor in a heap with my nose running (I figured it would be easier to clean than the living room carpet…) Yup, Tate. Definitely one for the File.

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What happens if all I feel is a giant, heavy, Blah? It’s like a big rock is just sitting on my stomach. Sometimes I am afraid that I’m not dealing with my sister’s death at all, so I write in my journal over and over: Tate is gone. Tate died. My sister died. I have a dead sister. My sister is dead. –just to make myself FEEL the reality. But I wonder where the feelings are. I can explain the entire hospital ordeal to anyone who asks with clinical detachment. I can talk about lawyers and wrongful death and exhuming like it was something I saw on a show. I guess I’m wondering, no fearing, that all of a sudden, I’ll pass out when it truly hits me.

I’m waiting for it to hit me.

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