Wednesday, September 17, 2008

tell me how to cope with death

It has been 89 days since Gary died. I didn't cry at the wake, I didn't cry at the funeral. I cried on the elliptical machine last night at the gym, and I burned 400 calories, and people stared at me.

I cannot grasp the idea that I will never have the chance to talk to him. It's so unfair this not having faith. I do not believe in organized religion, I do not believe in the virgin birth, I do not believe Jesus was the messiah, and I do not believe in heaven or hell. I am not an atheist, but I find no comfort in the idea of a "higher power", this image created by men for reasons mostly unrelated to spirituality. I am a walking contradiction; a highly emotional, sensitive and often irrational person who believes in reason and science and logic.

This is not an invitation for attempts to convert me, it's not possible. I am simply unequipped to deal with this and I am searching for understanding. I feel like the older I get, the more people around me die, and that's a horrible thought, but it's true. When I was in high school there were at least 3 people in my class who died, a family friends husband and lifelong partner. In college Alison died. After college, my sisters Uncle, Gary, my moms longtime friend and mentor, my high school principle who was also a neighbor, and someone very close to FSU just got diagnosed with terminal cancer. I see my grandmother's health failing... and when I visit her in the hospital I fear the future when my parents get older. How can I prepare myself to cope with that? I know we are never ready to say goodbye to someone we are close to, but if death is a part of life, why are we not armed to face it? Why is it so painful and enraging?

It is not as if Gary and I were best friends when he died, or even on speaking terms. But I cannot explain the strangeness and sense of loss I feel knowing that someone I was in love with at one point and never lost a sense of caring for, someone I shared my most secret thoughts with, someone I was intimate with; is gone forever. Of all the conversations we ever had, all the professions of love, all the arguments, all the jokes we shared, there is one I remember with distinct clarity. Once, at least a few months after our relationship ended, I was very distraught about something, and I called Gary to talk, as I often did for a long time after we stopped dating. I don't even remember what I was upset about, I just remember him saying "you always think the world is against you, and it's not". I don't know why this has stuck with me, but it took me a few years to let it sink it, to realize how right he was. Among the many things I wish I had the opportunity to say to him;

You were right Gary, I always thought the world was against me, I approached every situation on the defensive. See how I have changed? Those words have stuck with me for a long time, and I make a conscious effort not to view life that way anymore.

But knowing the way he died, knowing that he was wholly undeserving of such pain and suffering.. how can I not feel like there is some kind of cosmic force working against all of us? testing us? And how can I not wish he was here to tell me how to deal with this, and to tell me not to be so negative. I will forever regret that we never got the chance to talk about everything, and that we let our other friendships and relationships dictate how we dealt with each other for the last 2 years he was alive. I don't have romantic notions that we were meant to be with each other, but I do wholeheartedly believe that given time to heal completely we would have renewed our friendship and I am devastated that there will never be that chance...

If I could conjure a spirit, or find a way to speak to the dead I would do it. I'd give a lot to be able to talk to him even once more. I don't want to learn from it, or become stronger, I just want another chance to have that connection.



Winnie said...

I'm not really a Christian, and I don't believe the Bible is "the Word of God", but this verse is special to me for many reasons, one of which WE* share. It reminds me that in the end, if you’ve loved someone, you’ve given them the greatest gift possible because it remains, even in death.
"...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
L&L Winnie

Teeny said...

I feel completely inadequate with regards to giving you any sort of advice or comfort here. Our views of faith and spirits and such are so similar and I think that it puts us at a distinct disadvantage in some ways.

At the same time, I do believe that a lot of things in life are simply inexplicable and that love is clearly one of them. I don't know what death is, really, but part of me just refuses to accept that it's the end. And I know this will sound trite and naive, but I think if you still love someone then its never really the end.

Z said...

I don't know. That's the simple answer. I don't know how to deal ; right now my godmother is struggling, perhaps terminally, with cancer that was just diagnosed, and I have to focus on the minutiae - the can I find another specialist? Can I get you more info? Can I do this, or that, or whatever... Just to not think about the fact that she might die. That she might be gone.

I am not religious in the dogmatic sense - I, like you, cannot believe in every word that was written as the one and only truth. I am spiritual, and religion intrigues me, but I am not religious. And I agree, sometimes this makes death harder. Harder for the living. Harder for me.

But... I have to remember. No matter what happens after death, the person I am mourning? They touched me. They made and impact on me. Sure, I can wish it was for longer. But it was enough for me to miss them. And perhaps, that impact? Is enough. My memory? Is enough. Perhaps. (And ... not just me, of course. Everyone mourning them. Everyone they touched, and affected. Everyone in their life)

Lil' Miss Loud Mouth said...

You can still talk to Gary- try it- I know he would want to tell you those things and provide you that comfort. I don't think it's the end either- and I think we put a lot of boxes around "life" and "death" when really we are just in a skin sack for some odd years before we morph into whatever is next. It doesn't mean he can't still talk to you.

sheasy said...

I wish I could say the right words to help you. I don't know if there are any. I can't imagine what you are going through but I hope that some day you will find your answers.

Clay Perry said...

my father passed away this past feb. i dont think that any amount of preparation would help. you know its coming, but it still rips your heart to pieces. this year i have lost my dad, two uncles and an aunt. when i was twenty i lost a cousin i grew up with that i was really close to. it never goes away. i guess you just learn to live with the sense of loss. as far as religion, i feel its mans way of explaining what he cant understand at all. sometimes you can find a peace there, but sometimes it doesnt work... there are no real answers, and thats the part that keeps me thinking that arguing, bitchiness, and just plain old bad attitudes are useless and counter productive. for the week that my dad passed away everybody lived in a shell of absolute love, it was very nice, but as usual when humans are involved, they eventually turned back to the shitty ways of existence...