I feel as if lately, I’ve been hiding behind a routine. I’ve been looking for more and more “things” to occupy my time with. My interactions with most people, save a select few, feel superficial, forced. When asked how I’m doing, I’ve resorted to simple answers like “fine”, or “I’m hangin’ in there.” Someone I don’t know very well the other night made a remark sugggesting that I shouldn’t still be grieving, and despite the fact that I know they were wrong and didn’t know me or my relationship with Nanny well enough to make such a remark, part of me felt like they were right. Like I should start moving on. A good friend calls this complicated grief.

I’m scared to move on, because moving on sounds so much like letting go, and that is the one thing I refuse to do. If I let go of Nanny, I would let go of so much of me that nothing would be left. I already feel the presence of a gaping hole inside myself so deeply that, most days, I just want to curl up. Instead, I hide myself within outling Wesley sermons, reading books, watching TV, or most recently, opting to try Weight Watchers to get back down to a healthy weight. Nothing like having family members at the funeral tell me that, what I lost in hair I gained in belly fat.

Saturday, we went to the post office where I reluctantly turned in the life insurance claims paperwork for the policies Nanny made out for me. I literally waited until the moment before we stepped up to the counter to seal the envelopes. As I did so, my hands trembled and my heart rate spiked. I thought I had felt pain before, but nothing has ever hurt like this, so deeply and relentlessly. Nothing has ever made me more aware of my own mortality or the temporal nature of this existence.

Any time I see a TV show or a movie with a car accident, I almost lose it. I think about that split second where she didn’t know what was coming, and most likely, felt nothing. Yet in my mind, I can’t get past the traumatic violent crash of the van hitting her side of the car, her body trembling, her mind losing function. I know this all seems to vulgar to put into words, but it’s what’s been bothering me. It’s something I need to release and let go of, but I don’t know how.

We’ve been without our back deck that past couple of weeks as they rebuild it, so smoking has either happened all the way downstairs or out the bathroom window. Either way, any time I light up while at home, I think about one of the last conversations we had while I was down visiting her. I was making excuses for continuing the bad habit, and she called me out on it, even with a smile on her face. She knew that, unless I was ready, quitting would most likely be in vain. Now that she’s gone, I’m most certainly not ready.

Just a few moments ago, while smoking out the bathroom window, I remembered that conversation. I remember her smile, the way she challenged me without passing judgment. The way she knew how deeply I wanted, needed her love, her approval, and how willingly and unconditionally she gave it. Sure I had bad habits, sure she didn’t understand everything about my identity and life choices, but she loved me, apparently more deeeply, more proudly, more fully than I would have, could have ever imagined.

I’m hurting bad today, and I’ve only been awake for less than two hours. I’m scared of what the rest of the day holds, scared of trying to keep my composure during the walk from the train to my therapist’s office. I feel as if I don’t deserve any of the good things in my life, like somehow, her being taken was my fault. I feel guilt for not calling her that Thursday after I returned home. I feel remorse for not getting married to Suzy so that Nanny would get to hold her great-grandchild in her arms, see the child’s resemblance to me, and remark on how beautiful they were.

I know the title of this post barely matches the content, but it does describe the state of mind I’m in right now, feeling the finality of my time with her, the weight of the loss I’ve suffered. I remember how she looked at Frankie, how she smiled despite any discomfort. How she hugged him when we left from visiting at Christmas, even how she hugged him nightly as she would hug me.

I don’t know how to keep going, what to do, how to live. I don’t know how to honor her death because I don’t know how I managed to honor her in life. I don’t know what it was about me that made her so proud, made her love me so much. I don’t think I deserved someone as wonderful as her. I certainly didn’t deserve the kindness and pride she gave to and took in me.

I’m just really, very tired…

~ by Michael O. on August 8, 2011.

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