Thursday, May 7, 2015

Recalled to Life

Grief is a lifetime sentence. I have heard many times that you don’t get over losing someone. The death of someone you love is at first unthinkable, and gradually becomes a part of you with which you make as much peace as you can, depending on who you lost and in what circumstances. I realize that for some people there is no peace, ever. When Rick died I told myself I would allow the process of grieving for him to happen at its own pace. I would not force myself to “get over it,” or listen to people who told me I should be over it by now. I figured that I’d know in my heart when I was ready to move on. It is strange the times and places you realize you’re ready for the next step. I was in Target, looking at a travel iron, trying to decide if I wanted to get it. I’ve been getting out my summer clothes and so many of them are wrinkled from storage. That’s why I thought I needed an iron, but as I stood there it hit me deep in my soul that for some reason buying that iron was the beginning of a new phase in my life. Either there is some mystical meaning attached to that iron, or there isn’t, or the manufacturer has perfected subliminal marketing messages. “You NEED to buy this iron.” I got the iron. Came home and got rid of the old iron, which was literally falling apart. The irony of the iron? I seldom iron. Usually I wear the wrinkles, my fashion motto being, “If it’s comfortable I don’t care what it looks like.” This week I’ve been sorting and donating Rick’s winter coats, shirts, pants, and work boots, and that is progress, but the big news is that I have started on Rick’s corner. Rick’s corner is the northwest corner of our bedroom. It is where his drawing table is, tucked up against the window that looks out over the ravine. He loved that northern light. Surrounding the drawing table are his books, drawings, pencils, pens, brushes, Bristol board, mugs, toys, videos and video cameras and video players, and photographs. All of his cartoons. All of his drawings. On one wall is a large color poster of the USS King, DLG-10, the ship he served on in the Navy in 1967-68. Hanging in the window over the drawing table are a couple of Navy signal flags he got when he was a volunteer on the Turner Joy in Bremerton. Rick was a signalman in the Navy, so he knew all about signal flags. He received and sent messages with flags, with lights, and with semaphore. There is a rule, he told me once, that if someone hails a Naval ship, they are obliged to answer. He was doing some shovel work on a beach up on the north end of the island one day when a Navy ship came steaming by. He grabbed a couple of old rags he had and hailed the ship using the rags for semaphore flags. They had to answer. He had a brief conversation with them, part of which was, “HOW NAV?” Semaphore for, “How’s the Navy?” They promptly replied, “NAV SUX,” which is semaphore for – well, I think you can figure that one out. Apparently not much had changed since Vietnam. So I’m getting rid of stuff as I am able to part with it, and getting rid of stuff has the effect of making me feel light and happy. On the other hand, every item I relinquish means another bit of Rick is gone, and every day is a day farther from when he was here, my best friend, advocate, and partner. I feel so conflicted: while I do feel lonely sometimes, I want more time alone to become who I am, this new me, living this new life. Every morning I give thanks for my life and all the blessings that have come to me, and I try to acknowledge my sad or angry feelings. I am trying to embrace all of life, as it comes. That’s the ideal, anyway. It ain’t easy. When I’m under the hammer of life, it’s impossible, because I’m so busy getting from one minute to the next that I don’t have time to think about ideals. Then I revert to form, and my prayers tend to be, “Okay, God, what’s the deal? This is stupid!” Etc. God takes this whining pretty well. He hasn’t smited me yet. Smote. Whatever. Rick’s corner is in there waiting for me to come back and keep sorting. I will, as I can. There is a lot of treasure buried in that corner. I’ll try to share some of it with you as it surfaces. Blessings on you all, and peace. Rick and shipmates demonstrate semaphore, circa 1968. 1. THE 2. NAVY 3. SUX

1 comment:

David Levine, D.O. said...

I figured that I’d know in my heart when I was ready to move on.

You are moving on.