Wednesday’s Child

A childhood ditty declares, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” I sometimes wonder if there is any truth in the saying — I was born under Wednesday’s curse and I do seem to be more woe oriented than most people I know.

Everything always seems so easy for others. When I mention my tales of woe, such as grief for my deceased life mate/soul mate, people often dismiss my pain and offer their own religious beliefs as consolation. But those are their beliefs. Not mine. And even if they were my beliefs, they wouldn’t affect my grief. Grief is not intellectual. It is visceral, as much of a physical trauma as it is emotional, and as such is not always ameliorated by religious beliefs.

eclipse(I make it seem as if grief is a constant in my life, but it isn’t, not really. I can go weeks without thinking of him or shedding a single tear. This just just doesn’t happen to be one of those weeks.)

I suppose it does seem unimportant, this death that occurred five years ago. And yet, to me, it is all-important. Because of his death, I am where I am today, both spiritually and geographically. Because of his death and all the other deaths that have affected me in recent years, I have to rebuild my life from the ground up. This seems an immense task to me, and yet people shrug it off as if it is an everyday occurrence.

Is life that easy for others? Can they as easily dismiss their own woes as they do mine? After a trauma, can they really go on as if nothing has happened? Do the realities of life and death affect them so lightly? Or is it that they are better at hiding their feelings than I am?

I suppose it’s possible that I lack the resilience necessary to lead an easy life, but it seems to me I am resilient enough. In the past five years, I have closed up a house after the death of its inhabitants not once but twice, getting rid of the earthly possessions of those who no longer have a use for them. I have twice been dislocated and unhoused because of death. I have made friends and lost them, and made new friends. I’ve had my heart broken and my feelings hurt, and endured abuse from my dysfunctional brother. I’ve walked thousands of miles, written hundreds of blogs, laughed and joked, smiled and listened. I’ve learned to dance — not well, perhaps, but well enough to perform on stage with my classmates. And I am still chugging along, dreaming a new future into existence.

For the most part I am happy, grateful, hopeful even. And yet . . . and yet . . .

When he died, it felt like an amputation, and whatever was amputated is still gone. I have become so used to the feeling that I don’t always notice the amputation, but every once in a while grief steals over me like an eclipse, shadowing my life with pain and sorrow. For just a moment I wonder what is wrong, and then it comes to me.

He is dead.

That’s the fact of my life I cannot get around. Where he is, if he is, whether he is subsumed into the whole or maintains individual consciousness, I still have to deal with his goneness, still have to make my own way in the world. Still have to learn to live fully.

And oh, yeah. I have to forget that whole “Wednesday’s Child” thing. I don’t need any more woes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand 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.

S.O.S. — Dance Therapy

A few days ago, I started doing what I call “dance therapy.” I thought it was my own idea, but today I discovered there really is such a thing. It’s been around since the 1940s and was created as a way for the mind and body to work together. Supposedly, by dancing, people can identify and express their innermost emotions, bring those feelings to the surface and create a sense of renewal, unity, and completeness.

But that’s not what my “dance therapy” is about. I know what my feelings are. (And so do you if you’ve been checking in with this blog occasionally.) I’m still grieving the death of my mate of thirty-four years. We were soul mates: partners in life, in business, in ideology, in exercise — in fact, years ago, before he started losing health, we used to do aerobics together, which for us meant free-style dancing around the living room. I continued by myself for a while, but as he got sicker, I had to stop that form of exercise because most song lyrics made me cry. Even happy songs — especially happy songs — brought tears to my eyes, and I couldn’t deal with that. Not being a natural optimist, (maybe as a Wednesday’s child, I really am full of woe) I needed to fight to stay positive, to focus on what I had rather than what I was losing. In my current situation, though, the loss is so great, it’s not a matter of seeing the glass as half empty rather than half full (if you’ll pardon my use of that odious phrase). It’s a matter of trying to glue a shattered glass back together and hope it holds together as I fill it drop by drop.

I’m not in nearly as much pain as I was seventeen and a half months ago when he died, but I’m still feeling sad and empty despite the friends I’ve made and the trips I’ve taken. (My most recent excursions included a Route 66 Rendezvous, a couple of major county fairs, and a trip to Seattle — so see, I really am going on with my life.) The world still feels different with him gone. I still feel different, knowing he’s not somewhere in the crowd. I will probably always miss him, always yearn to talk with him, always long for the sight of his smile and the sound of his voice, but I don’t want to — can’t — be enchained by my own sorrow forever.

Most songs still bring tears to my eyes, but it no longer matters since many things make me tearful now. Besides, without a song or a dance, what are we? And so, I’ve begun my version of dance therapy. Today I danced to ABBA. (Why is that more embarrassing to admit than that I still cry at times?) I’m not looking for a sense of happiness or even optimism. Nor am I looking for exercise. (For that, I walk, lift, stretch, air bicycle.) My hope is that by moving in rhythm to a few peppy songs most days, I can train myself to feel lighter in spirit. Maybe even learn to have fun — whatever that is.

It’s the best I can do.