Loneliness, and a new flavor of grief
Now that I’m here in this place that is my “other” home, I am coming to see how much it truly isn’t “home.” Home isn’t simply a geographical place, of course. In a much more fundamental way, it is the place where family and friends are, the place where memories become thickly, repeatedly layered over years of shared events, occasions, rituals, and the simple cycle of changing seasons. This was a place that Kurt and I shared and called home, briefly — for one winter of blissful pre-diagnosis ignorance and one spring of desperate grasping at the last weeks of our shared lives.
Here I am now, trying to rehearse the idea of making this my second home rather than ours, but this rehearsal is not going so well at the moment. I do have a few friends here but I don’t see them regularly, and I don’t have places where I can go with a reasonable chance of seeing people I know and feel known by. I have no specific plan for making friends and creating a community around myself. I guess I was just hoping that I’d find a way somehow.
I am lonely. It hasn’t helped that I had one of my two-day headaches this past Monday and yesterday, which left me too sick to work more than a few hours a day or to do anything else but sleep. I missed my Wednesday morning run this morning. I haven’t gone anywhere in days except for scurrying out to the grocery store this evening. Tonight my head is no longer screaming at me, so I’m asking my body if it is ready to try a very short, slow run tomorrow morning. I have a feeling it won’t give me an answer until tomorrow morning. I’ll set the alarm a few minutes early and see what happens.
I saw quite a few friends last weekend at a Porsche club gathering, and that was enjoyable but in a bittersweet way. The last time I’d seen most of those people, Kurt was still with me, so this was their first opportunity to express their grief directly to me.
I know that others miss Kurt and grieve for him too, and that they have a right to feel those feelings and to express them — but it is difficult for me when someone stands there in front of me and shows me their grief so directly, when I am trying so hard to move beyond that and reweave the threads of my life. Every time it happens it is a fresh shock, another unexpected step off another unexpected cliff. And that’s just the people who already knew, and who know that I know that they knew. The really weird thing is that twice in the last week I have had an unexpected encounter with someone who didn’t know Kurt was gone, who was processing the news for the first time and doing so in my presence. That is an almost unbearable wrench back in time for me.
Two days from now, he’ll have been gone six months. It’s another one of those milestone dates that I’ll get through one way or another. I’d honestly been thinking that this month would be better until I had those unexpected encounters. Now I know that I’m still not far enough beyond it to sit there quietly and accept someone else’s expression of grief without feeling myself inevitably pushed over the cliff. I become overwhelmed by my empathy for their feelings. I can’t stop other people’s feelings, so I can only learn to control my reaction to them. It’s going to take more time… probably a lot more time still.
I’m thinking tonight about this question of how I’m going to manage my time here. I’m determined to stay at least through early spring, as I’ve made commitments and bought tickets for various things, but there are a lot of blank spaces on my calendar. I’ll have to do some research, find other things besides running that I want to do on my own and just for my own enjoyment. Then I’ll have to make myself go out the door and do them.
One step at a time.