Starting the Year With a Feeling of Dread

In a post I wrote six years ago, I mentioned that I was starting the year with a feeling of dread. Back then, I didn’t know what brought on the feeling, but I have the same feeling this year, and I do know what is causing the dread.

I don’t like talking about my financial situation because it makes me look like a fool, but the truth is, I spent most of the last decades looking after sick and dying relatives. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do (and I still know it was), but it left me without any retirement. I’ve been living off savings and a small inheritance, and this year there will come a time when I have to make some hard decisions, such as where to live and where to get a job. (The only thing I am qualified for is taking caring of folks, and I simply cannot do that anymore.)

Knowing that this decision was coming was a big impetus to getting my works in progress finished, but I destroyed my arm before I could finish the third book, and I haven’t been able to get back to it. Maybe I will finish it this year before my life changes beyond recognition . . . again.

I’ve drifted this past year, and unless I make those hard decisions, I probably will continue to drift until the money for one more grand adventure is gone and the need to settle into a new and unwelcome life becomes dire. (Oddly, the decision to get up and go on that last big adventure is just as hard as the other decisions because once the adventure is done, then those other changes will have to be made.) Status quo will hold until May when I head up to Seattle. On that camping/hiking trip, I will face the reality of what I am capable of, and if it is possible to live a nomadic life for a while.

(I have two dreams — one, to hike one of the long trails, and the other to be nomadic for a year to see what if anything will happen. It’s entirely possible both dreams are leftovers from my grief days. It’s also possible they stem from the unwillingness to do what I must to take care of myself. Whatever the reason, I do yearn for a spiritual journey, a vision quest, something that catapults me into “more.”)

I have not cried at all since March 26th, the day before my seven-year grief anniversary, the day before I got the external fixator off my destroyed arm, but in the middle of last night I woke with tears on my face, whispering, “I am so afraid, Jeff.”

I have been very good about living in the day and for the day, without too much thought for the future or too much looking to the past, but all this talk of a new year must have gotten beneath my defenses. (And then, there is this dang flu that came to visit me, which doesn’t help matters.) Admittedly, with the state of my arm this past year, there was really no other choice but to live in the day, to heal and exercise the poor limb, but it is slowly getting to the point that no further progress can be made, so I will have to live with the weakened arm.

There is nothing I can do about anything today — not the finances, not the fear, not the flu — so I’m going back to bed.

I hope all your decisions this year will be easy ones.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.