Sunday, February 12

week by week

i've written and rewritten the beginning of this post about a dozen times.  it's been 5 weeks and apparently words are finally failing me.  i still have plenty to share, believe me, but i'm struggling with how to express them in a coherent and articulate manner.  which is actually very indicative of how i've been feeling this past week.  nothing in life has been making much sense lately and i'm feeling very discombobulated.  things at both school and home are extremely messy and unorganized.  and i don't like messes.  not only are my physical spaces irritatingly out of order, my emotional spaces are an unmitigated disaster.  i'm all over the map with my moods, which i suppose is normal and expected after experiencing the death of a loved one.  but as i look back, i see that there has been one dominating emotion or feeling each week since Z passed away...

week 1: shock. that first week was all about survival, and i made it through on pure shock and the constant, compulsive need to be doing something, anything, to help his family.  i stayed busy in the days immediately following his death.  i went back to school on wednesday, and my students and work kept me distracted until friday.  then i had the opportunity to drive with his family to their new home in maryland, which helped me as much as it did them.  the three-day, cross-country road trip with these dear friends served as a healing balm over the hurt.  the shock was still there, but it was bareable.

week 2: debilitating sorrow. i remember my evening flight from dc to dfw on monday, january 16.  saying goodbye to his family was hard, but even harder was the feeling that Z should have been there, too.  i tried reading my scriptures on the plane, listening to music, writing down every thought, feeling and question that flooded my mind, but nothing helped to alleviate the pain of the physical weight i felt directly over my heart.  on the drive home, the weight grew heavier and heavier, silent tears falling down my cheeks.  as soon as i closed the door, i collapsed on my bed and doubled over in painful sobs.  during that first week i had been so concerned with taking care of his sister and helping the family that i had been ignoring the full force of what losing him meant to me.  the sorrow that hit me that night was frighteningly real and incapacitating.  the week progressively worsened at both school and home.  all of my lessons were laughably lame and being with my students did not bring the same comfort it had the previous week.  while i managed to be somewhat functional at work, coming home at night was a descent into utter despair.  it wasn't pretty.

week 3: extreme sorrow. the sorrow continued during this third week, but not as strong and heavy as the week before.  i still felt broken and still felt a physical weight on my chest, especially at night, but i managed to muddle my way through classes and meetings and tutorings with help of a dear friend and remembering to breathe in and out.

week 4: anger. after feeling so much sorrow for so long, i think my heart needed to experience another emotion - any other emotion - to feel like it was progressing in the grieving progress.  so my next emotion was anger.  my anger usually follows a very predictable path: first outward, then inward, and eventually upward.  i really don't enjoy being angry, and i was so angry that week.  angry at Z, angry at myself, angry at heaven.  all of the unanswered questions and unresolved feelings became a fire burning in my head and heart.  everything hurt and nothing helped.  it was during this week that i first noticed that i wasn't singing anymore.  that's when i knew that something was seriously wrong.  and while several people told me it was normal to feel angry, i didn't like having that darkness inside of me on top of the hurt i was already feeling.

week 5: exhaustion. which brings me to this past week.  after 4 weeks of shock, sorrow and anger, not to mention despair and loneliness and a whole gamut of other emotions, my body and spirit finally hit a wall.  i was so physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted from feeling and thinking and doubting and questioning and trying to make sense of this tragedy and trying to make it from one day to the next, that all i wanted to do was collapse and wave the white the flag.  during previous hard times in my life, this is usually the point where i shut down completely: no school, no work, no eating, no exercising, no talking to other people, no nothing.  but i can't really do that anymore.  i have to get up in the morning and go to work.  i can't check-out of reality or go dark from my responsibilities and relationships.  but this past week i really, really wanted to do just that.  i still wish that were an option right now.  i am exhausted from feeling sad and being angry. i am exhausted from trying to be happy and energetic for my students.  i am exhausted from crying every night.  i am exhausted from missing him so much. utterly exhausted, drained, wasted.  i feel heavy and lethargic, weak and fragile.  never have i relied so much on prayer to sustain me throughout the day.

this coming week will probably be the hardest of them all.  i'm flying to utah on thursday to attend Z's memorial service, which will be held on friday at the veteran's memorial park in bluffdale.  the day after it happened, i offered to his mother to sing his favorite hymn at the service, knowing full well that the chances of me actually being able to sing any of the song were slim to none.  but i feel that this is something that i need to do for both him and me.  i need to give him this last gift in order to say goodbye and express how much he meant to me.

so it's going to be a hard week.  even now i'm not really sure what i'm feeling.  but i've made it this far.  praying that i can make it for just a little bit longer.

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