I wake early and hear the low moaning sound of a freighters horn, crying out in the fog. I realize that I am that freighter. I’ve spent most of the summer laying on the couch, crying in the fog of grief that I am feeling over the loss of my Raymond.
I’ve started talking to him. Asking him for help and guidance. That help, came in the form of a letter I recently received from hospice, stating that I was entitled to grief counseling. Although I am seeing a therapist, I called hospice. I saw Latessa this past week, and she was wonderful. She taught me that grieving isn’t a linear process like the stages of death: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and finally acceptance. I observed Raymond go through all of these stages. She told me that a grieving person goes through all of these stages in any moment on any day.
I’m not in denial, I was here when Raymond passed. I know he is gone. I’ve never been angry, he was very sick and it was his time to transcend this world. There is nothing to bargain for. I know God isn’t going to bring him back to me. I accept the fact that he is gone. I wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer for one more moment. It is the sadness and depression that I am struggling with.
My spiritual teacher told me to “Try to see the distinction between grieving and depression. One is not allowing yourself to feel, the other is allowing the true feelings to have a place to be expressed.” That place has been in my little trailer, on the couch. I’ve literally spent the whole summer feeling such a deep sadness. Some days I am totally immobilized, other days I can do a few things around here. I do have a wonderful support system. My friends and family come out 2-3 days a week, just to get me out of the house or just come for a visit and keep me company as I lie on the couch.
My, 83-year-old father, was recently diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. I immediately called Ray’s doctor from Karmano’s Cancer Center in Detroit. He is now my father’s doctor. My dad’s prognosis is good, thank God. The cancer is only in his esophagus and hasn’t spread. They are going to treat him with radiation, 5 days a week; and chemo, once a week, to try to shrink and contain the tumor. They will give him a month or so after that process to recover, then they will do the surgery. Dr. G. hooked us up with the chief of Thoracic Oncology (surgeon) and the chief of radiation. I know he is in good hands. His attitude is positive and optimistic and he is still very active.
I have taken my folks to Karmanos for their first few visits. I will be taking him to his first chemo and radiation on Tuesday. It has been bitter-sweet seeing Raymond’s nurses, his doctors, the hospital that he had been to once or twice weekly; from December to April. The place where he was hospitalized a number of times and I went there daily. The nurses all gave me a big hug and cried with me. Raymond made such a lasting impression on them and they truly loved him. The blessing here is that I know the “lay of the land” at Karmanos, and I can help my parents find their way around and maybe feel more comfortable with me there. The blessing for me is that although being there brings up many fearful and painful memories, by helping my folks, I am helping myself.
On September 5th, it will be 4 months since Raymond passed. The hospice grief counselor said that after 4 months, it is still “pretty fresh.” Her words helped me to see that feeling such a deep sadness is okay. Some people say, “Get out, do things, move on with your life, Raymond wouldn’t want you to be so sad.” What I know now is that, it is what it is, and everyone’s process is different. Ray and I had such a deep spiritual connection in the 2 years and 2 months I was with him. We talked all the time, about any and every topic. We laughed and cried together. From the first day we met, we were together every day after. He used to say that it was like we were together for years because ours wasn’t the “normal dating process” (weekend dates, etc.) we were on the “fast track.”
God, I miss the laughter and fun we had together. For anyone that knew Raymond, they knew that he had a very large presence. When Ray walked into a room, his presence was felt by everyone. He is not present anymore. My life is very quiet without him. So, like the freighter, I cry out in the fog of sadness, alone on the river of my life, knowing that life goes on, and hoping that sometime soon, this freighter will find her way through the fog.