Getting Used to the Way Things Become

Someone left a comment on my blog yesterday wondering whether the depression I mentioned was actually grief, and the tears that came to my eyes told me she was right. I had been fine with my injury until Christmas Day, and then I lost it. I haven’t felt that sad for I don’t know how long, but on that day I couldn’t stop crying. I was desperately lonely, afraid because I don’t know what’s going to happen with my arm and how it can affect my life, and more than anything I just wanted to go home. Now that the holidays are passed and we are more than a week into the new year, I am mostly back to normal — whatever normal means — taking each day as it comes and trying not to panic about the future.

It seems funny to be leaning back in a chair, feet up on a desk, and talking my way into a blog using speech recognition software, but it’s actually a lot more natural than clicking away at a keyboard. And less lonely. After Jeff died, I used to go out to the desert and talk to him. I seldom talk to him anymore, but I know a lot of people who still talk sunsetto their deceased spouses even after many years. I always knew it was a way of keeping in touch with the loved one, or at least feeling some kind of connection, but now I understand it’s also a way to offset some of the loneliness. I wonder if we need to hear the sound of our voices, that if we don’t talk we somehow feel less alive. Does it matter if there’s nobody there to listen? There’s no one here listening to me talking, but I suppose I could assume you’re listening, though not at the very moment I’m speaking, which does make this sort of a conversation.

Because of my grief posts I end up “meeting” a lot of bereft spouses, people who once had a life companion and now are alone. I worry about them, and I worry about myself. There are some things in life that can never be undone. The dead do not come back. A new love or a new marriage does not erase the old one. (And a mangled arm no matter how painstakingly fixed does not miraculously become brand-new.) In a little over two months, it will be seven years since Jeff died, and that still matters to me. He was such an important part of my life and his being gone is an important thing of its own.

Sometimes I’m glad he’s not here to have to deal with my injury. There is nothing he could do about it, and it would only make him feel bad, though it would be nice to have someone help put the splint on every night, keep me company, and do the thousands of small things that seem impossible with one hand. I try not to listen to the voice in my mind that says the accident would not have happened if he were here, but it’s true. If I were still living our shared life, I would never have been scurrying across a dark parking lot in the middle of the night. I would have been home with him. But life does what it will, and we are left to cope as best as we can.

One thing the fall taught me is how quickly things change. (Or rather I should say re-taught me, because death has already taught me how quickly things change.) There I was heading for my car that night, happy, contented, healthy, and the next thing I knew I was in the emergency room with an arm that will never look the same, feel the same, or act the same. It just goes to show that any plans we make can be derailed in a moment.

We do get used to the way things become, and often after a bad incident we convince ourselves that it was actually a good thing. For example, if somebody got in a car accident and met his future wife in the emergency room. But generally we just try to make sense of things, and if good things happen after the bad incident, or if we make good things happen, we tell ourselves we were lucky. I wonder if there will ever come a time when I say this accident was a good thing? I suppose it’s possible that this speech recognition software will change my writing habits and catapult me into bestseller dumb. (I was trying to say bestsellerdom, but I loved the way the speech recognition software translated the term, so I kept it.) It’s possible that I don’t write as much as I could because I’m lazy. It takes a lot of effort to either write by hand or sit at the computer and type, and now that I have the opportunity to relax and spout off as I wish, it might make a difference. We’ll see.

It’s been fun talking to you. Talk to you again soon.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram 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.

Taking “Q” Things With Gratitude

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~~ G. K. Chesterton

For the rest of November, I’m going to take with gratitude some of those things I often take for granted — an entire alphabet’s worth! Since today is the seventeenth day of this surge of gratitude, I am giving thanks for “Q” things.

I am especially grateful for:

Questions. As a species, we have inquiring minds. We want to learn, to know. And so we ask questions, sometimes of ourselves, sometimes of others, and nowadays, sometimes from search engines. We take these questions for granted simply because we have always questioned. We wonder where we come from, why we are here, the purpose of our lives, and how to create meaning. When something goes wrong, such as the death of a loved one, that questioning spirit goes into overdrive. Even when we find no answers to our questions, we continue our quest. It’s who we are. When we stop questioning, that’s when we need to begin to worry. So today, I will give thanks for all the questions I’ve been asking lately — they prove to me that I am alive even if I don’t know why.

Qublack catantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics teaches us that there are no set answers to our questions. Things change depending on how we view them and even if we view them. If we don’t view things, perhaps they don’t happen, but exist forever as a possibility. This could be the answer to the enigmatic question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?” According to quantum physics, if no one is around to observe, the tree doesn’t fall but exists only as a possibility of either falling or remaining rooted. Ah the delights of such thought experiments! I don’t think anyone takes quantum mechanics for granted, not even those physicists whose lives are steeped in such esoteric experiments. And except for those same physicists who make a living off quantum mechanics, I doubt anyone gives thanks for quantum theory, but today I will be thankful for such a mind bender.

Quirks and quixoticisms. We all have our quirks and strangely idealistic moments. Even as we rail against these peculiarities in others, we take them for granted in ourselves. But quirks and quixoticisms are things to be taken with gratitude — they make us the unique people we are.

So, what “Q” things are you taking for gratitude today?

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See also:
Taking “A” Things With Gratitude, Taking “B” Things With Gratitude, Taking “C” Things With Gratitude,Taking “D” Things With Gratitude, Taking “E” Things With Gratitude, Taking “F” Things With Gratitude, Taking “G” Things With Gratitude, Taking “H” Things With Gratitude, Taking “I” Things With Gratitude, Taking “J” Things With Gratitude,Taking “K” Things With Gratitude, Taking “L” Things With Gratitude, Taking “M” Things With Gratitude, Taking “N” Things With Gratitude, Taking “O” Things With Gratitude

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram 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.