In reading some of the “grief literature”, and in comments and discussions I have seen, I have learned some new terms. “Grief Spasms”, those paroxysms of anguish that grip, periodically often without warning. “Chronic Sorrow” describes exactly what condition a loss like this creates. It is like arthritis, or asthma, or lupus, or cancer. Nothing that can be cured, only managed. The problem with sorrow, is there are no prescriptions, no medications that can ameliorate the terrible sadness that washes over me from time to time. There are myriad suggestions in the books and blogs out there as how to “get through it”, how to “rebuild”, but as anyone who is going through this, has gone through this, life will never be the same. I am becoming an expert on grief.
I am coining a new term, one I haven’t heard before, “Grief Fatigue”.
It is exhausting being this sad. Moving through the day, it feels as if I am walking through a palpable substance, sapping my energy. I wake up tired. By the end of the day, I am worn out. I am tired of the sorrow. I am tired of being sad, of the constant ache. I wish I could just decide to be done with it, but that just isn’t possible. And it has only been six weeks. Six seconds. Six years. The journey forward seems so long, that’s why we say “one day at a time”. One moment at a time is more like it. We will just have to learn how to better “manage” it.
Last night we had a friend of Jake’s (and ours) over for dinner. We reminisced about the good times we all shared, how Jake wanted to help everyone he met, often to his own detriment. I wish he could have found a friend like him. Somehow, I was able to say Kiddush without breaking down, I guess that means something. Perhaps I used up my tears at shul that evening. Shabbat always brings my feelings right to the surface. The cup of emotion is so full, like the brimming cup of wine over which I said the blessings. Almost overflowing, held in check only by the surface tension of the liquid. So fragile, the least disturbance, the slightest motion, a breath of air, breaks the skin and the wine spills over the rim and drips onto my hands. So it is. No matter how calm, how I might be able to laugh at a joke, smile at a friend, the least disturbance can unexpectedly cause the overwhelming sorrow to flow.
Today in shul, a friend of ours said something that at once gave me comfort and brought sadness. It is a lot like that now. He said that for us, for him, Jake would always be young, would never grow old. That is the Jake he would remember. The vibrant, alive, laughing Jake. Friend to everyone. I remember all the Jakes. The delicious infant, the precocious toddler, the confident child, the amazingly literate, knowledgeable and capable teenager, the young man embarking on the journey of a lifetime. That journey cut so short. We won’t know the 30-year-old, the middle-aged Jake, the old Jake with a life’s worth of accomplishments behind him. We wanted him to grow old. We’ll never know what he could have done. We only know what he did in the brief time we shared with him. And he did so much.
This is your best writing so far. A year from now I hope you read them again and look at your “waiting” photos again. Perhaps then you consider publishing them together. Remember our cousin Naomi. She’s at Random House.
(First: Go, Judy! Ed’s writing is magnificent, and his message is so profoundly worth sharing with a larger world.)
Oh, Ed and Terry, my poor babies. If only there were a potion to save the memories and take away the anguish, but there isn’t, and there never will be. “Grief fatigue” is a brilliant way of describing what you must be enduring.
However, as long as you can write, have dinner with friends, go to shul, and limp as best you can through the broken pieces of your memories and hearts, you are doing the best you can to ward off the greater monster that is clinical depression, which paralyzes like a poison spider. Be safe, my beloved friends. The monster has taken more than its share of late.
With love and respect,
I agree the writing is stunning, please consider publishing for all to read.
I will. There is a lot more to this story yet to be written. We’ll see how it turns out.
“Forever Young” means that all of the hopes and dreams for which they were striving will never have the chance to come to fruition. As parents we nurtured them with the expectation that they would be able to utilize all of their gifts to realize their dreams. Their dreams were also our dreams, their joy was our joy. It’s indescribably painful to be left with this shattered and unfulfilled potential.