August 16, 2013

The Lie We Believe About Time

 “ know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.”  
~ Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning  

My sister and I eat the same thing at Olive Garden every time.
Soup, salad and breadsticks.
And sometimes a piece of lemon cream cake to finish it off if we’re not too full. 

Photo Credit: dyobmit, Flickr

I normally get a caffe latte too.   

Last Friday, there was no cake or latte to finish it off and we mostly picked at our soups and salad. There’s something about a huge lump in your throat that makes it hard to eat.  

We discussed a few things at lunch about the funeral arrangements but mostly tried to speak of happier things. My sister was having an extremely hard time. She was in such a fragile state, I didn’t want to leave her side for a moment. Actually, I didn’t. Even when Larry came into town, I stayed in her hotel room.

After lunch we headed to rest for a few hours and the plan was to pick our brother up at the bus station where he was due to come in at 11 PM.  (He ended up being delayed until 3 AM. We went back to our hotel after dinner, got a few more hours sleep and set our alarms for 2:30 AM to go pick him up.) We decided to have get a bite to eat beforehand at a place called Kitchen 64.

Shortly after the server placed the entree in front of us, I lost it, emotionally.

Crying profusely amidst my tomato soup and chicken and brie sandwich, my sister softly consoled me. I tried to hold the tears but she said, “Let it go, Deanna.” So I did.

The server came over to see if everything was okay. 

Plainly he could see it was not okay but he asked anyway.

“We’ve just lost our mother this morning,” Shari explained. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry…” he said. 

Happier times. Shari & Deanna ~ Hellas Restaurant January 2013

 She’s back…

I wasn’t going to get into the details of the past five months and how much it has ached and why, with our mother’s death being the crowning moment of the pain. But my sister wanted to hear it. “I need to hear this, Deanna. It’s actually healing for me.”        

It's strange how me pouring out my pain was so cathartic for her, but I believe so much of it was that I never shared with her my side of the story of the last five months. I tried so hard to protect her, to not triangulate things. To preserve her relationship with mom, and my relationship with her.

But it was time to get it all on the table.

We shared for a few hours, and I went through napkin after napkin, sobbing profusely while we talked, not caring that we were in the middle of a packed restaurant. 

“I needed to hear all this,” she said.

I longed for her to hear it but I didn’t think the time for her to would come for a few months, at least. And there it was, just hours after Judy passed.

A significant shift took place because of that conversation. 

I already felt the love from my sister when I walked into hospice. But that night at Kitchen 64, I really knew she was back. And not just back, but closer than ever, even in her fragile state. 

My New BFF ~ Kleenex

Over the next week, I cried at every meal. 

I was composed while ordering my unsweetened iced tea with a slice of lime, and then BOOM! Out came a flood of tears. 

We could be snacking on chips and salsa waiting for our tacos to arrive and BAM! Suddenly I’d lose it.

I never figured this out for almost a week. 

Last night I went out with Larry for a quiet dinner alone. And shortly after we began enjoying a bowl of soup we shared, I began to weep. “Why in the world do I keep doing this?” I thought.

The A-ha Moment

Yesterday I realized that of the things I’ve shared with Judy and Tom, most of it has been shared over a meal.

I never lived with Judy as my sister did.

I’ve never even stayed with her overnight although she’s stayed with me at my home. Even when she has stayed overnight, a large part of my focus has been entertaining – putting meals on the table, enjoying them together as a family.

When we’d come through Richmond, we’d all meet for lunch or dinner even if we couldn’t stay overnight. 

We have shared around the table so many times.
Tons of our photos are at restaurants.


Now I understand why I can’t even get past the bread basket without breaking down.

And it’s okay. 

It may be this way for a while, and I’ll just let it flow. 

The only way to get better is to let it come, just as it is. 

Photo Credit: Angie Nan, Flickr

The Lie About Time

One thing I’ve learned about pain in any significant loss including adoption loss, is that it never helps to suppress it. 

Contrary to the popular old wives’ tale, time does not heal all wounds.

Time heals absolutely nothing!

Time by itself is just time.

Wounds heal when we acknowledge them, not when we hide them.
Wounds heal when we invite God into the situation to do what only He can do.
Wounds heal when we take advantage of community and share our pain with others.
Wounds heal as we are just...real.

Consider a wound that is covered by a bandage.
For a few days, that it is okay to cover and isolate the wound.
But eventually it must be uncovered and exposed to air in order to heal.

Covered things don’t heal.

I can’t move forward from the intense grief I’m feeling in the loss of Judy, if I suppress it.

So I don’t. 

If you happen to be out and about and see me crying profusely, just let me be.

You’re welcome to hand me a tissue.
Welcome to sit alongside me in my grief.
But please don’t shush me.

The only way I'm going to move forward is to let it out, even if it comes at inopportune times.