Thursday, May 6, 2010

Riding the grief roller coaster

It started out with tears of joy. BR and I finally found a way to take away his pain that worked.

The week that followed was full of family and friends. Laughter through tears. I told Jordan she was welcome to stay, and we would work out the details later. She's now putting down roots, buying a scooter and looking for a job nearby. I'm glad for the continued company, but I worry that I'm being a big downer. There are times in the afternoon when I need to go to my room, close the door, and pretend to sleep. Sleep actually found me today, and I'm grateful for that.

Then there are times when I become exceptionally productive. Bought a new battery for the minivan and had the electrical system repaired. Had both mine and my neighbor's sprinkler system repaired. (I mowed over one of her tree bubblers.) Started an inventory of the leftover medical supplies. Looks like I'll have to donate them to a charity that sends them overseas due to US and Texas law.

And then I'll go to make dinner. "What do you... hmm. What do I want?" I have to admit, there is more cheese in the fridge than ever before.

The feelings I have right now are similar to those I had when I spent my junior year in college studying abroad in Paris. I was alone, with limited contact to my familiar support system. The difference is that now, BR is gone. Back then, I still had one more year of school back home. It hurt like hell, but I became a better person for it.

Even disabled, BR was the glue that held so many parts of my life together. Now that he's gone, I feel like I have to do it all myself. But I can't. That's the whole point of marriage -- two people coming together through love to do more than either one could do on their own. So right now, I'm focusing on the immediate. The bills are on autopilot. The people I see get first shot at a smile. Everything else may have to wait.

In this big-ass world, though, there are people important to me who were unable to attend the memorial service. So I've booked some travel to see them. First up is KimmieG and her husband Mike in Wisconsin. She was my one and only girlfriend in high school, and no matter how far apart we are, we will always be connected. Then I'll head to Chicago to see Joy. I met Joy while participating in the first Texas AIDS Ride -- a 7 day bicycle ride from Austin through Houston to Dallas. A similar bond formed. Next, I'll spend Mother's Day and the day after with my parents in Belvidere, Illinois. From all accounts, Mama is doing really well since being discharged from the nursing home.

From there, I'll be hopping a flight to Boston with a connection to Paris, followed by a train to Amsterdam. After some sleep, I'll be meeting Herrad and Richie for the first time in the flesh, and letting them know what their online friendship has meant to both BR and me. They are the only other couple we'd discovered who have lived through the same rapid progression of MS. Just knowing that we were not alone made all the difference during the difficult times.

Upon returning to Paris, I plan to sit by the Seine in the early morning, reading a book and conversing casually with passers by.


Lisa Emrich said...

Sounds very nice that you are able to travel these loops on the roller coaster, not alone. Quite a trip you have planned. And so absolutely wonderful that you will be able to visit with Herrad and Richie! The four of you have shown me what true love is all about. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Have a great trip and don't forget to call me from Paris. Your telephone will be as close as I will ever get to Paris. Much love, Dede

Patrick@Caregivingly Yours said...

Steve, you have more lives to live. A walkabout sure makes sense. Safe travels!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

mortonlake said...

you are in my thoughts steve.herrad and richie are good people,and i know will love meeting you.take care,mort.

Webster said...

Brilliant that you're going to Amsterdam to meet Herrad and Richie in person. And your entire trip sounds great.

If it's not too late, might I suggest you visit or call a local MS support group and see if anyone there needs the extra medical supplies; Or knows of someone who does?

Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful time catching up and visiting.

Take lots of pictures! Especially of Amsterdam - I hear the city it like none other - and of course, Herrad & Richie.

Safe travel,

Cranky said...

Steve - great idea to get out and see your dear friends who couldn't join you at BR's memorial. How cool is it to get to meet Richie and Herrad! That is wonderful. I'm anticipating reading about that visit from 3 different blogs.

Diane J Standiford said...

The finishing of loose ends...letting go while reaching out---a hard stretch. You are in my thoughts.

Stephany said...

Reading this, I was glad to see that you have made active motions to connect with others, and when I got to the part that tells us you will meet Herrad and Richie, I let out a "oh!", what a great thing!! I'm so excited for them and you to get to meet in person, and I hope you have safe good travels to all of the places you are going.

Peace and thanks for sharing your life here.

Herrad said...

Hi Steve,
Really brilliant that we will see you next week.
Yippppeeeeee what a great surprise.

Jessica said...

Bon voyage, and safe travels.

kmilyun said...

How super that you will get to share your journey with those you both loved.

Travel safe as you connect the dots of your friendships.

Give Ritchie and Herrad a big hugs!


Travelogue for the Universe said...

Wishing you great travels with new memories to be made.Take care, Mary

Herrad said...

Hi Steve,
Happy Landings see you on Thursday.

JC said...

That is too cool ... you're going to meet Herrad.

cyn said...

steve i wish you much strength during these days on the roller coaster and safe and peaceful travels. love,cynthia

Herrad said...

Hi Steve,
Happy landing in Paris.
Have a good day, enjoy croissants and coffee by the Seine.
See you tomorrow in Amsterdam.

Have Myelin? said...

I'm glad you are going to meet Herrad and Richie. How wonderful for you.

Grief roller coaster...yes, it has quite the lows and highs doesn't it? I can't get off either. Eleven months for me.

Have a wonderful trip! =)

Beth T said...

I am glad to read this now. You are safe and home after these incredible travels and I cant wait to hear the stories and emotion that comes with them. You are taking care of you Steve, and that is the most important thing you can do. And whether it's a vacation, a dinner, a big life decision that you are trying to make, BR will be with every step of the way, with these words, BR's words, encouraging you....
"Shoulders back, Chin Up, Throw that hair back, Smile, Wear Cool Shoes and go to it!"
Love you!