May 19 was the six-month anniversary of my sister's death. I meant to write something then, but couldn't seem to do it.
Six months later I am still grieving. It just doesn't go away. Oh, it's better--it's not like a knife blade any more. I sleep better. But I am still grieving.
It occurs to me that I may never really "get over it."
I get blindsided from time to time by a sudden onslaught of memories or an icepick of realization that she's gone, and I literally have to hold onto something to steady myself. There are still days when I have episodes of crying, the kind where your whole body shudders and you gasp for breath. There are days when I still feel paralyzed by sadness and have no motivation to do anything. Not even cook dinner.
Her death, and the suddenness of it, the unexpectedness of it, has certainly sharpened my sense of the tenuousness of life, and each day I vow to live more fully despite my grief and pain. And I do think I'm doing a little better at that. I've recently revisited a lot of my past writing and decided that some of it doesn't actually suck. I'm seriously thinking about e-publishing, and I'm planning to polish some of my short story drafts. I've even been thinking about a new poem or two.
So that's good. Our time on this earth is short, and I don't believe in an afterlife. This is all we get, and we need to get all the joy out of it that we can.
Good things have happened in the past six months. Three of my closest friends and I now have a book group that meets during the day, so I get to serve them lunch (you know I love cooking for people!) or at least make appetizers before we go out to lunch, and then we talk about the book. I've gotten back into the reading habit (and may I say again, I really love my Kindle!), which I'd lost for a while.
I've made a vow to listen to music more often. It used to be that the stereo was rarely silent, but in the past few years I've gotten out of the habit of putting a CD on, for reasons not entirely clear to me. But in the past few weeks I've bought some new CDs and even put some on my new MP3 player (which I'm still getting to know--I'm really a Luddite about some things).
My daughter and I have been listening to audiobooks together, and that's been fun, especially since we've been listening to the works of Christopher Moore, one of the zaniest, craziest, funniest writers ever.
We're not planting our usual garden this year, but we do have a few tomato plants started, and of course there's the asparagus (around 15 pounds of it, so far, but the end of the season is nigh, as the asparagus beetles tell me), strawberries, rhubarb, and herb garden to care for. I'm late with planting, partly due to the rainy weather, but today I'll get the basil into the herb garden and plant dill, cilantro, shallots, and maybe some lettuce.
Life goes on, imperfectly of course, but it goes on. Yesterday was a beautiful, if cool, June day. Out of our east windows we could see the lake, as blue as it has ever been, sparkling in the sun, a series of sequins flashing over and over. The fields and the woods are that brilliant, almost neon green of newness that later fades and seems dusty but is so incredibly vivid right now.
And I need to say here how good it is that I do have a sister still. I'm glad Jana is still here with me. She's got her own burdens to shoulder right now, but at least we do have each other.
I do live with a heightened consciousness of death, a sense of impending loss. Living in the now, instead of anticipating what could, what will, inevitably happen--that would be a good idea and an antidote, and I need to do that. I'm kind of obsessed with fears about losing those I love, just as I'm obsessed with the wish that James could retire NOW so that we'll have more time together. I'm hoping these thoughts and emotions will retreat to the background, at least, and I wish they'd do it soon.
So I'm just like everybody else when it comes to grieving. I can't hurry myself out of it. I have to go through all of it. But I can and do make an effort to refuse grief complete control over my life. Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of it, but those times pass. It's no longer a 24/7 thing.
I miss Linn. I will always miss Linn and wish we'd had more time together. That's just a fact. I'll wish she were here to appreciate June, join us for a party, call me at 7 a.m. That she could hear a music video I just stumbled across. That she could tell me stories about her grandkids.
It's been hard to accept her absence and really, I'm not sure I've accepted it.
But the cats need to be fed, coffee made, the dishwasher unloaded. Life needs to be lived, and I don't intend to do it half-assed.