How long does a mole, created for these dark and dank places, stay submerged in the shallow bowels of the earth before it emerges into the sunlight? How long can one, left behind and not created for the darkness, stay in that subterranean world and still survive? Like the mole, would our eyes have become so accustomed to the black world that the burn of emergence into the light would prove too painful? Survive. That is all I have been able to do Scotty, for these interminable 10 months, barely survive in my dark despair. My mind still falls prey to curtains of billowing acrid smoke swirling about in it so that logical thought, reason, knowledge, and wisdom cannot penetrate. Some mornings I awaken with the dread of facing yet another day in a world that, for me, has not yet recovered from being parched and empty without you in it. You were my magic carpet, ripped out from beneath me and I am free falling. I see the rip cord dangling beneath my fingers and know someday soon I will have to pull it. This morning was especially bad. I awoke early and in pain of body, mind, and spirit, and stared as the hazy orange lifted its veil over the face of the mountains. I lay and lay trying to think of a good enough reason to stay in bed all day, but it was time for Amaya to start school on her computer interface with Skyline Elementary. I had to be sure Autumn was instilling her eye drops faithfully every three hours for her “pink eyes.” I didn’t want to take a bath, but one was overdue. So I rummaged through the drawers, grabbing some old leggings and a grey tee shirt, and ran the water. It didn’t matter what I wore. I simply don’t really care much what I look like anymore. The heaviness hangs over my shoulders like a dozen lead x-ray aprons. And every day I drag that cumbersome burden here and there, trying desperately to do the million things there are to do each day, without you. But I am doing them. I am resistantly surviving.
Many days, I look around me and cannot fathom why I am still here and you are not. Without you, I don’t seem to be able to move on enough to function efficiently, or at least tolerably well. The pain in my heart still crushes me, squeezing tears from my eyes frequently and sometimes unexpectedly. And once they are loosed, there is no restraining them. I lay down on my back in the den where the sun streams through the glass and let its warm prisms enfold me. I look out at the blue sky rivaled by cumulus white clouds and wonder who will win the day. I bet on the clouds, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, because it suits my mood so well. I went to the doctor the other day and, parading through my litany of problems and meds, he alights on “major depressive disorder,” and I stop him. No, I correct and reassure him, I am not depressed except that which comes with grieving. He looks at me kindly and says that after 10 months, I should not still feel such an absolute sense of hopelessness and despair, unable to find little joy in anything. So, of course, out comes the prescription pad. Nowadays, we believe everything can be cured with a pill so that we should never have to suffer. But I’m sure there are no magic pills that will resolve this pain that has swallowed me whole. I fervently wish there were, though—a way to ease the throbbing migraine in my soul. I wish I was stronger and didn’t scoff at the comments reassuring me that I am. My insides feel like a tangle of raw electrical wires, sizzling and snapping as they haphazardly flop about. Worst of all is the overwhelming sense of sadness—the sadness as of thousands of gloomy, rainy days, and cold, haunted nights. It is the sadness that envelopes me now as I look up at the confused sky.
I know there have been better days, but today I just can’t recollect them. Such a turbulent, breath-stealing roller coaster of a ride this grieving thing is! I know that, should others read these chronicles, they would be tossed about like flotsam on an angry, writhing, sea, trying to follow the journey. And yet, my very prayer is to reach out to the others that surely must be responding similarly to death and tell them they are not alone. Is it “normal?” Perhaps not for a more stoic person, but for those with tempestuous emotions, it is predictable. I wanted to let these feelings and words flow out of my troubled life because it seems that, if I hold it all in as I do superficially, I will surely shatter into a million, tiny pieces. Even then, such an outcome feels like a distinct possibility. Is there anyone out there who feels these extreme emotions? Scotty, if only you hadn’t been so good, so handsome, loving, kind, and steady. If only I hadn’t fallen so very hard for you that the fall itself broke my heart, knowing someday there would be an end. I try to read my bible, and succeed most mornings, a cup of café mocha in my hand and your Seahawks blanket over my lap. I try to sing praise songs, even in my heart, because God inhabits the praise of His people, but I am too weak to continue. So, instead, I repeat a simple fervent prayer. “Jesus, help me.” And there are days where I have been able to see that He has. On those days, I can see blessing after blessing piling up all around me so that I can barely see around them at the bad. But it seems as though—just when I think I’ve gotten a better hold on things and can rest and let God run the universe—something or someone pulls a pivotal piece free and the blessings piled up so high come crashing down like the wood sticks of a lost Jenga game. Now, instead of why or can I do this, my question is, “Am I crazy?” Some readily and emphatically assure me that I’m not. Others hesitate a moment too long, or divert from the question, so that I am left wondering what the answer really is. I would like to say, with a narrow margin of certainty, that I am not crazy. That people like me—a hopelessly romantic idealist with intensely passionate emotions—upon losing their dearly beloved will, at times, appear to have lost their minds.
I pose my uncertainties to my brother, Ray, who understands. My polar opposite, Ray is seemingly mellow, quiet, and stoic, while I am bouncing all over the emotional map. Ray lost one of his daughters when she was 17 to cancer. Her name was Jessica and she was an amazing young woman. Ray and I talk a lot about this horrible trial we now share, and I deeply admire his ability at composure. Good, kind brother that he is though, he reassures me that probably the healthier response is not to keep the pain locked tightly inside, bound under chain and lock, but to find some way acceptable to my unique self to let it out. These chronicles have been a start at doing that—my diary, my journal, exposed to all—in the prayer that my transparency will somehow bind us together in the strength of mutual affliction. My dear sisters and brothers who grieve, there will be our “getting better” days. And, then again, there will be our “getting worse” days. There is no timeline, and this is the one and only time in life that we should be offered a “buy” on (most) of our behaviors.
The grief I share is not only mine, but that of my children as well. I cannot speak for any of them, but I can see all the pain in their eyes, and catch the stray tear when they aren’t trying to be strong for me. Perhaps the children who have suffered the greatest are the littlest Gordon girls, snatched from horrible abuse and neglect, and rescued by a forever Mom and Dad and the family they had yearned for for so very long. They only had you, the world’s best dad, for eight years—years filled with love, guidance, protection, fun, adventures, and admonishment. I try to tell them that it is better to have had the very best dad in the world for eight years rather than the very worst dad for a hundred. I don’t know that they buy it. Even after all the unspeakable trauma they had in their younger life, they then had to witness the trauma of their now-beloved dad die before their eyes. So perhaps it is not unexpected that they would finally break, each in their own way. Four little women, each broken and still trying to help one another while unable to go on themselves. When it reached total meltdown, or volcanic eruption, I began to ask the Lord for the help they truly needed to purge the pain deep in their hearts, apply healing balm, and finally be free of so many daytime nightmares. The twins, so very different in their coping skills, or lack thereof, were at first hesitant, and then gradually, more and more excited as we researched therapeutic boarding schools for each. Avari could hardly sleep the nights before she went to Wyoming, where she would learn to be a true cowgirl and, inside, a girl full of peace and joy. Autumn, with so very much pent up anger, needed a different kind of program and she was not the least disappointed when God pointed the way to Jamaica, particularly when it was mentioned that one of the activities was swimming with the dolphins. Avari was enrolled last week. Next week, Autumn, Amaya and I will travel to Jamaica where Autumn will begin her healing journey, and Amaya and I will stay a month ourselves to, perhaps, begin our own. Then the littlest Gordon girl and I will head back to reality and continue working to find a future and hope ourselves. I have the Grief Share group, my weekly counseling, and weekly counseling for parents of troubled teens. Amaya starts counseling tomorrow, has started her online school at the sweet local elementary, and will have horseback riding lessons, thanks to her big sister. She and I will have the concentrated, one on one time she loved so much with you, Scott. Perhaps the aged and the youngster are each what the other needs to live as you would want us to. Keep an eye on us, my Darling. I know Jesus is.