Yesterday was June 28th. Exactly six months, twenty-six weeks, since our beloved son died. Twenty-six joyless Shabbats. Twenty-six dreaded Saturday mornings. One hundred eighty-two days I have had to live in this world without Jake. It still doesn’t seem possible. Of all the people on this earth, I still can’t imagine how it came to pass that Jake is no longer with us, that this terrible calamity would befall him, and us.
We all know that grief is a complex emotion. Rather a combination of emotions: rage, sorrow, confusion, despair, agony, resignation, coming in stages or sometimes, all at once. But what is more apparent each day, is that these emotions exact a terrible physical toll on us. I am exhausted from the moment I awaken until I am finally able to lay myself down at the end of each day. Yesterday, I couldn’t even get out of bed until the afternoon. I got up, puttered around for a while, ate a piece of French toast, and went back to sleep until 7:30 in the evening. Somehow, my body knew what day it was. More accurately, my mind knew what day it was and the terrible sadness incapacitated my body for the day.
One of the most interesting books we read when Terry was pregnant, and we read a bunch of them, (after all, we wanted to be the “perfect” parents) is “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child” by Thomas Verny. In it the author explains how the mother’s emotions and anxieties, the father’s involvement, and the external environment in general all affect the developing fetus. The chemical messages she sends to her baby vary depending on her emotional state, and if she is anxious or depressed it can be detrimental to the baby’s future development. It is a fascinating read. Our minds and bodies are also linked in a similar way, exchanging chemical messages constantly. The messages I have been sending my body these past six months have wreaked havoc with my physical well-being.
I ache all over. Especially in my back and legs. I move slowly, gingerly, muscles and joints protesting. I am weak and fragile. Not just emotionally, but physically. It is an effort to climb stairs, to get in and out of my car. I feel drained, depleted, defeated. I know part of this is that I haven’t been to the gym in months. A year ago, I worked out three to four days a week, lost a ton of weight; was building toward a leaner, fitter me. Now, I lack the impetus to drag myself to the gym, and am paying the price each day. I know how good it would be for me to re-start my exercise program, but somehow, I just can’t get myself going. I haven’t picked up a golf club since Jake died; I can barely stand to look at a golf course.
I am able to make it through each day, complete the trifling, mundane tasks I need to do, but it is the bigger things I am having trouble with. I don’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to stick with long-term projects. I don’t have much enthusiasm for anything. I have so much to do, and so little desire to do any of it. Hell, it has taken me three days just to write these few hundred words. Some days are better than others. On the good days, I can read, write, think a little more clearly. I can put my sorrow on the shelf for a few moments and actually become productive for a couple of hours. I suppose that is progress of a sort. I have some research for a writing project I need to do, and I am slowly grinding through that, but I don’t have the constancy of attention I used to possess. I am easily distracted. And there are days where I can scarcely do more than check my emails, have some lunch and lose myself in a thousand trivial things to occupy my time. I am learning to do what I can when I can, and just surrender myself when I can’t do much of anything. After all it has only been six short months. Six long months. Six wearying lifetimes. And I am so weary.