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'' Tonight I'll sing my songs again, I'll play the game and pretend, hmmm... But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me....Homeward bound, I wish I was...''
('Homeward Bound', Paul Simon - 1965)
It has been mentioned here previously that I beleive I am gaining some measure of acceptance regarding the death of DJ; this, after some months of trying to understand just what her loss really means for me and just how it fits into my entire life in general. I found myself focusing on more than just the fact of her death and my reaction to it. For me, first there was the question of continuing at all...did I even want to carry on at all without her? it was never a matter of if I could make it alone, it was, and continues to be if I wanted to. This required some long and detailed probing of my mind, the type of examination we normally do not undertake, it was only even attempted because of the current extreme circumstances. To say it was revealing is to not give the exerscise it's just due. After exhausting just about every avenue that I could think of about DJ's death which I could identify in my limited mind, I came to the corner of myself and life; and just how I had been shaped by my experience with DJ and our life together. Thoughts about how I felt it was so tragic for me and our family, to be deprived of her presence, about just how would I and our family go forward from here. Many times the entire idea was so new, so foreign as to be not totally comprehensible...Of course, in my mind, in a setting regarding anyone else, I could offer rational, seemingly well reasoned explanations; ''...hey, it's the way of the world''...''yes, life is hard, then you die''...'' well, it's really out of our control''....
Those are all, reasonably accurate thoughts on the death of someone, anyone, and I know I have mouthed them to countless others in an attempt to appear philosophically detached, and reasoned in my thoughts. But trying to accept and apply these same so-called pearls of wisdom to my own situation, was totally meaningless. It did not do one thing to ease the pain, lessen the impact, or diminish the raw anguish that DJ's death brought home to me. Thinking about all of this in terms of my own life, revealed just how shallow and uncaring I must have appeared to those to whom I spoke such things as, ''...keep living, it'll get better''...or ''...everybody gets a turn...''; how insensitive and ignorant I must have sounded when I said ''...suck it up, we have to move on...'', those are truly the words of a novice to the pain and hurt of deep personal loss. As Simon poetically declares, ''...all my words come back to me, in shades of mediocrity...'', and they exposed the limits of much of my understanding concerning, not only the cost of human loss, but of life itself. As I thought about all of this, those phrases and many more I had offered in my feeble attempts to appear all knowing came back to mock me and force me to apply an entirely new dimension of understanding to our family's loss and to my own life.
Believing that only the most honest of efforts in this would yield any meaningful results, I had to face the truth that yes, there is still much for me to learn. My lack of perception in this area would make 'Shallow Hal' appear to be Rodin's idea for 'The Thinker' in comparison. Intellectually I understood about the cycle of life and death, how all of nature really revolves around this cycle; the changing seasons, the struggle of wildlife to survive and the natural culling which takes place there, I even understood the need for the naturally occurring wildfires which blaze the paths for renewal and new growth. These things I was aware of and had decided I understood them well, but this latest turn of nature's screw revealed my total ignorance of the true human dimensions involved in close personal loss. As I think about DJ and live a captive to the many emotions her loss can trigger, my shortcomings in understanding and the feelings of remorse for ever having been so arrogant, adds even more to the pangs of distress at times. My program dictates that I cannot make resolutions; I have to make decisions...in going over all of this I decided that an attitude adjustment for me is in order. I can imagine that all of this is no doubt also related to my latest realization that I am able to glimpse the edges of acceptance. In trying to adopt a new design for living in this different life, that adjustment will be necessary; the old way of thinking, the old expectations will do me no good as life has completely changed. It is understood by me that a huge psychological shift has to take place, and almost every aspect of life as I once knew will have to be viewed in a totally different light. Today I can be grateful for the life I shared with DJ, for all the many things we shared, for the love and caring she displayed towards me over the years. To question ''...why me...?'' does not come to mind...why not me? I am not greater or lesser than anyone else, except in my own mind. That I am dealing with and trying to accept DJ's death as the natural order of things imparts no special status to me, I am merely one of many who are enduring the same situation and probably looking for the same answers I am unable to come up with, or totally accept...yet. Yes, the journey is painful, and I believe that is as it should be, we have suffered great personal loss and that hurt reflects the depths of our caring and commitment to the ones we loved. But I don't believe we are preordained to endure this agony forever; I don't think we are built to live that way.
This is not my first encounter with having to face this shifting, this realignment of my thinking process on a major scale; at another stage in my life, when I was ending another long term affair, one with John Barlycorn, it was suggested that I would have to initiate and maintain just such a psychological shift if I intended to remain sober. At that time I was able to do that with the help of a program and the grace of a power greater than myself; having my first taste of alcohol in 21 years on that New Year's eve of 2010, with DJ, as we both suspected, tho did not discuss, that it would probably be her last one here on this earth. At that time I thought it was important that she understood that the last drink she ever knew I took, was with her, and I didn't act a damn fool afterwards. We shared that small sip of champagne, and enjoyed the hours after and the breakfast that followed; it will always be one of the most treasured memories I have of us. There was no mediocrity or mocking in that thought, or in those words we spoke that evening or the following morning.
With the faint rays from the light of acceptance starting to break through the fog of grief, I feel more than ready to challenge my previous way of thinking and of looking at life. For me, the challenge will be to remain true to honest, open and willing approaches to it; to try and remember that selfish Fred cannot help much here. I will need to remember the in-adequateness I first felt as I thought about trying to live in this different life. The uneasiness I felt about my own previous, insensitive and often flip remarks regarding the intricate march of life and all it brings to us, needs to be a constant reminder to me that this process is about more than simply mourning the loss of DJ; It can be an opportunity to embrace an entirely different new way (for me anyways) of viewing and processing the many events which life presents to us. It truly feels strange dealing with the idea that I am at ease with the absence of DJ, but I'm convinced that it is part of how the different life must be. The hope I feel bathing me, along with those fledgling rays of acceptance is fresh, promising, and I am totally welcoming it. Having once thought that that those early feelings of pain and terror would be with me always, I now welcome the comforting thought that not only is hope possible for the different life, but I'm actually beginning to feel it! The feeling for me palpable, tho not detectable by my usual tactile receptors; this is an inner knowing, the start of a personal awareness I wish for all those suffering this journey. I believe it is what we are all hoping to find at the end of our paths; an emotional state where the living of the different life without our partners is possible without so much FUD, fear, uncertainty or doubt. And of course without the gripping pain which besieged us in those early days and weeks. Lest the wrong impression be left concerning all of this, it must be stated here, these feelings of hope and promise for our different life, this gaining of acceptance will not erase the various issues which are destined to remain part of our lives, anyone's life; there will be things for which, at the time, we will have no answers; the pitfalls which surround our everyday rituals will still continue to be present and will have to be dealt with. I am hoping that this reorganizing of our thoughts around a new perspective, bestowed upon us as a result of our grief, will better prepare us to carry a more healthy and resilient psyche into our different lives and allow us to better deal with the memories of those who are no longer with us and with the many situations of everyday life.
To me, I want, no...I need this excursion through grief to result in more than a coming to terms with the loss of DJ; I need it to be a portal through which I pass and emerge on the other side with a better understanding of not only myself, but life, and others also. It is my desire that I am able to display, in real terms the message of hope and promise; that I not fear expanding my own narrow perspective to be able to better understand events and those other human beings around me; that we can realize that between life and death there is living and we should embrace every second of it, be it good, bad, or indifferent. These are the things this glimpse of acceptance has offered to my mind and about which I am concentrating on now. I do not expect to become perfect, but in the process I may become a more perfect human being or, at the very least, a better person...this is part of the hope I have in this different life, for all of us, as we find new homes there, bound to our past by memories, but able to move forward, not in spite of, but because of them, towards a new us in the different life.
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart), I am never without it (anywhere I go you go), my dear…” -eecummings