Two years today (10th January 2012) we 'celebrated' the news (from D's oncologist) that D was back on track (after a nasty infection in the stent site in the liver) and that he would be starting chemo in a couple of weeks but would, most likely, be going home "tomorrow". Of course, we still knew he was terminal but he was back on track to have a comfortable 12 to 18 months before a decline. Later that day, having broken the news to the kids, A. made a beautiful 'Welcome Home Dad' card. On the front she drew a picture of an empty tidy hospital bed with a nurse standing alongside it smiling. I asked what it meant and she said "the bed is empty now because Dad was sent home and the nurse is happy that he's better". Well the next day D's hospital bed was indeed empty but only because he was sent to the hospice to die. I don't think I will ever comprehend the 24 hour period between a senior oncologist saying "you'll be going home tomorrow" and then a senior hospice manager saying "we think you'd be more comfortable in the hospice" and then, 24 hours after that being told he would die soon.
What have I achieved in the two years since he died? And, on that note, why is life all about what we achieve? Why is it never enough to just 'be' or just 'get by' or just 'exist'? But it's not. Getting by is never enough.
Well, I'm glad nobody's critiquing my life (not officially anyway though no doubt people do judge). What can I do now that I couldn't do two years ago? I can drive. I can cook dinner for three kids (two adolescents and one kid really) alone and do it almost every single day. I can (mostly) get two kids to school and back all by myself. Woohoo. But I still can't keep the house tidy; still can't pay all my bills; still can't get on top of the mortgage (designed for two but being paid by one); still can't keep up with the laundry; still can't make my children happy or make their grief go away; still can't get rid of my anger; still can't cope with my exhaustion. What's changed for the worse? My eldest boy has given up school and, in turn, will not be going to college like he wanted. My second son is not coping. My 9 year old is doing okay but, of course, missing her Dad like crazy.
I feel ashamed that I haven't done a better job with the kids. I did set out with the best intentions i.e. put my grief on hold and look out for the kids. Sadly, while they're still here and they're fed and clothed (just about) their education has taken a battering and their lives aren't healthy and two out of three of them are unhappy.
I'm trying very very hard to act normal. It's exhausting. But I 'get' it. It's either be alone and turn into a hermit or pretend to be normal. I tried the hermit thing. It didn't pan out. So I try the acting thing now. We had visitors over Christmas. To everyone else that was nothing unusual. For me it was huge. It was our second Christmas without him and I made the effort to have people here visiting, food, drinks etc. three different evenings. I'm proud of that. It was lovely but exhausting. So much work.
I'm visiting my two older friends later. I love them but I also dread seeing them. I'm filled with anxiety. They don't get my grief. It's been two years. They expect me to be my "old self". That person is gone. They cannot adjust to my "new self" so I smile, make small talk, try very hard to listen to their issues and then pat myself on the back that I didn't cry, I didn't mention him, I didn't go on again and again about my problems, my kids depression, my loneliness, mortgage default etc. Like a good girl I sat there and listened to their problems. Heaven forbid I should mention by dead husband.
Perhaps in two years I'll have moved on. Even a little bit?