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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.

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Comment by Mstexan on January 16, 2013 at 12:03pm

I am at about 2.5 years, and my husband died from pancreatic cancer after fighting for 14 months after diagnosis. He has a grown son who is estranged and we had no children together.  I remember just mind-numbing loneliness of those first months, at 8 months I became severely depressed.  To the outside world I was "fine"....I returned to work a 1.5 weeks after his funeral...I showed up to work every day...I didn't cry in front of people.  But at home, I would sit in one spot on my couch all night long.  TV on.  Not watching.  Just feeling "trembly" and waiting for time to pass.  Those months were the worst experience of my life; realizing that he was gone and wasn't coming back.  After the horrendous diagnosis, chemo, radiation, surgery and being his sole caregiver, I was lost.  No family or friends around. Only work.  At 8 months, I finally had to go to the doctor to get my asthma meds refilled. I told my (very uncaring) doctor that I needed something for anxiety and I wanted something for depression.  He reluctantly gave me prescriptions, but for only 20 Xanax at a time, with only 1 refill.  So crazy for someone to think that you can really get through the caregiving with NOTHING and the aftermath of his death, with nothing!  Anyway, once I started on the anti-depressant, I didn't really feel any different, but it must have helped a little bit, because I started taking care of myself a little better and I planned a trip for my birthday. I think that was a turning point for me (about 1 year after he died), and I think I'm better most of the time. But, I'm still trying to find me. I quit the anti-depressant after 6 months.   I am telling you this, so you know you are not alone.  I have been thru the PC fight (as have others here), and I made it through those first long months not knowing or believing I could do it.  I'm sending you big hugs and hope that you dont' disappear, because your girls need you and YOU will make it and find a new way.  If you ever want to talk....I'm always around, I just don't post a lot.  Sending you big hugs, Carrie.



Comment by Mac on January 16, 2013 at 11:47am
That's great Carrie! I'm glad that you invited them to visit. It's so hard for us that people we would have expected to hear from never call. And as we all know even with the people that called initially, those calls stopped very early on. I have started to be more proactive on just calling those people including those who never called.
Comment by MissingRKK on January 16, 2013 at 10:40am

Thank you, Dear Friends. It sounds like feeling depressed about now is typical. Not that it makes it more fun, but good to know that I am in a new phase, that is normal--hope it is forward moving. Feels like backwards but if it is fear of the future then in a twisted way it is forward. Am I making sense? Dunno.   After writing this and spending a while reading on the site I felt a little better and then I spent a while thinking about which people I wanted to have around me.  I called my step-sister and asked her to come spend the weekend with the girls and me and then I asked my brother to pick a weekend and spend it with us too. Something to look forward too.  Baby steps, right? Gotta start somewhere and the weekends are so awful alone. The other thing I did was get a hair cut this morning!!!!!!! I cannot remember the last time I got a hair cut. Maybe before Ron's memorial? I don't know. That is slightly bigger than a babystep. I was finding it hard to get motivated to even take a shower over the past few days.   Huge hugs to you all. You help me so much and I am so grateful. HUGs!!!! Carrie

Comment by Mac on January 15, 2013 at 8:14pm
So hard to live in this parallel universe. One foot in the world around us and the other foot in this separate universe that we find ourselves in.

Last Monday it took an extra effort to get out the door and to go to work. I just felt like selling everything and hitting the road. I know I won't do it. I need to be there for my children financially (they are both in college). I need to be there for them to do the best that we can as a family. I want that stability and familiarity of the house for them to come home to....

But it certainly is tempting.
Comment by AEDforever (Ali) on January 15, 2013 at 5:46pm

Missing much of what you write feels familiar..although it must be much more difficult but also a blessing to have the children to look after. At 1 month..i wasn't really believing 3 months..i was just 5 months..just 6 8 months..depression..the realization set month will be a year..and while i'm not done grieving yet, there has been a change...I am somehow now..understanding is just me..and I've got to do this..well..i don't have to..but i chose to. So that means a lot of feelings..a lot of thinking about what i want my life to be like..and how i can make it happen. But still yearning sometimes for the old life.  It's a hell of a place to be...disappearing sounds so good..but it isn't a reality really. I am pretty will find it in yourself to make your new life..teeny tiny steps at a time..and then pass that on to someone else. (hugs) and wishing you smoother sailing.

Comment by kshy on January 15, 2013 at 5:15pm
MissingRKK...we are on the same schedule. Nearing 8 months. And like you, just this week I started feeling really low - not the nosediving rollover coaster of grief, but that dull depressed, completely unmotivated and lost, low feeling. Because even though everything has been incredibly hard, it's all been so tangled up in grief and crazy emotions I couldn't even see straight. But my next moves...the future i the dust is settling...I realize I am going to have to face that alone, too! Really? I have to be even stronger than I was before? I am just so damn tired of doing all of this alone. I want a fantasy escape too. Wishing strength to us all.
Comment by MrsD on January 15, 2013 at 1:44pm
So much of this resonated with me. Although my husband died very suddenly, there are many similarities. I too have escapist fantasies. I plan on blogging about them soon, but they've included Ireland, iceland, and just today I googled Moving to the Caribbean. But none of them are possible with my daughter. But then, she is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

Sharing dreams and needs making life less of a burden, that's so true. My husband was a children's librarian. And I miss the library. I miss the people, the sense of community. The events. The knowledge that he was revered there. I cannot believe how much I miss his job and the persona he carved out there.

This was a rambling response. I'm not doing well myself these days. Just wanted to say I identify with a lot of what you've been writing.
Comment by madison81 on January 15, 2013 at 12:45pm

I feel your pain, I feel the utter devastation.  I held my breath for 17 months, treatments, surgery, more treatments, easy to move through the battle, there is a plan that must be followed. Since April 5th, there is nothing, just acute pain and longing for Michael and the life we had.  My brain still not comprehending he is gone, dead.  What the fuck happened here?  I still wait for his "hello" as he bounded through the door, his "before" voice, not his "cancer voice", the voice that held decades of life and love ahead.  My kids were both home over the holidays.  I have been pretending for their sake, we attempted our holiday (chanukah and xmas) traditions, mostly too hard, hard to feel our "home" without my husband, impossible to realize "home" will never be the same.  Tomorrow I am alone again, free to slip away...not feeling much like reaching out to friends and family, happy their lives are normal and happy, but a crushing reminder to my own without Michael.

We can do only what feels possible to do, if that means not answering phone, retreating, so be it.  I also feel like disappearing is allowed, perhaps it will allowing us to maintain, being the mom, going to work stumble along,and disappear when you are able, it seems for an outside perspective that you are doing a damn good job!  love and admiration to you

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