January 15, 2013
Almost 8 months.
That is how long it has been since Ron died. That is about how long Ron lived from diagnosis to death. The symmetry hit me this morning and almost knocked me down. I am in a rough patch. Feeling depressed for the first time. Couldn’t be depressed when Ron was sick. As devastating and horrifying as it was, there was too much to do. Didn’t feel depressed after he died, unbearable grief, lots of fear, lots of anger—all the feelings I still have but not depression. During the past few months, the feeling in the pit of my stomach, the soup of dread, fear, and sadness that I awakened with each morning during the first weeks had faded and I awoke in neutral some days and in anxiety, with a plea for unattainable help most others-- but not the soup. Now I have a thick lead blanket lying on top of me and that horrible, familiar feeling in my stomach when I get up in my morning and even right this minute when I write this. I can’t succumb to the depression because of the girls. I must not be that bad off then because I know some depressed people literally cannot get out of bed. I can and I do.
I feel so far away from people, from life. Looking out and up through murky glass from way down deep. I realized this when I was at a basketball game during the weekend. S2’s first basketball game. Sitting on the floor with the other parents and siblings. It seemed like a joyful occasion and I think I played my part reasonably well but in the middle of it I realized I was so far away. I couldn’t smile between moments when I had to show S2 I was proud of her. We went to an MLK event that night where S1 participated in a reading of the “I Have a Dream” speech. She spoke clearly and audibly. She gets so nervous when she has to speak in front of people. The event included a potluck and songs by the DC Labor Chorus, Q&A with our congressman and two members of the SNCC, and other activities. I couldn’t even really get us into the room past the first chairs we found closest to the door even though there was plenty of space, couldn’t look around to see if there was anyone to talk to, couldn’t meet eyes with anyone, couldn’t make chitchat with the person we did know who came up to us and tried to be friendly. After a few gaffes on the way to this event none of us really wanted to be there so my inertia wasn’t holding the girls back. We left shortly after the speech.
Ron’s been dead for almost exactly as long as he (and we all) lived with his cancer. What do I make of that? What does it mean? Does it mean anything? It feels like hell. I still can’t believe that Ron, my Ron could even have cancer. Now I am supposed to accept that any of this actually happened and that he is dead? No.
I realized very concretely that there is nothing and no one that can make this better for me. I think some of this depression comes from that reality. I kept hoping someone or some magical thing was going to lead me to the next part of my life. Whatever happens next is going to have to be my doing, completely on my own. What the hell am I going to do next?!?! How am I going to make this life tolerable, good? That terrifies me. Being with Ron meant that I directed part of my life but not all. Some of it was influenced his dreams and needs, some of it our’s and some of it mine. That made it more interesting and less of a burden. I liked his dreams and our’s. I spent a lot of time just raising the girls, uncertain about my own direction, and because I could fall back on Ron, the urgency to figure my life out was mitigated. I had what seemed now like a luxury to be lost. Now it is just me. But not really. It is me and the girls with just me to make the decisions. If it were just me I would sell our house and belongings and throw myself into an overseas post. I could go to a hardship country and work where the issues are life and death and no one would have to know my story and I could work until I was exhausted and try to create another life from scratch. An escapist fantasy? Maybe. With the girls, moving them overseas would mean relegating their care to a nanny, taking them away from what remains consistent in their lives. What would be the point to that? It is hard to figure out how to put your life back together when you didn’t want to give up the life that was destroyed.
If we didn’t have children my escapist fantasy is this:
We would have left Jakarta after diagnosis, sold our house and belongings and set up shop in a tropical place. Ron loved Hawaii, maybe Kauai. I would have taken care of him there with as few medical interventions as possible. Then when it got too bad for him we could have died together. I’d have helped him OD on pain meds and then taken some myself.
I suppose it wouldn’t have been that easy.
The loneliness is truly brutal. It is consuming and relentless and the bottom line is that while I am isolated and alone for the majority of each week the real thing underneath it all is missing Ron. He is the company I long for, not just anyone. I find it hard to be around most people. Need to let them in but can barely answer the phone. Most of the time I don't.
I’d like to give in to the depression. I’d like to just lie in bed for a very long time. I’d like to, but then what? At some point I would have to get up. Knowing that the getting up would be hanging over my head makes sinking deeply into depression less appealing. Feelig like there is a choice means I am not too depressed. The obligations of taking care of the girls (and believe me, I thank the universe for them about 1000 times a day) and finishing my work assignment make me keep putting one foot in front of the other and shuffling, stumbling and bumbling along. That is supposed to lead to healing. Right now, I’d prefer just to disappear.