Something I've written...
Something nice someone had to say about what I've written...
Today I write from bed...
A homework assignment for psychology class:
I was twenty-four, a divorcee for nine months from a marriage that lasted five years, when my life forever changed. I had just come home from a date with a man who would play a prominent role in my life for the next five years: he would stick with me as I grieved, battle ovarian cancer, and take me on the roller coaster ride of his addiction to crack and alcohol, but that’s another story. That moment: it was morning, I walked in and got a message to call my former mother-in-law. I knew what she had to say when I called her back, but she didn’t tell me over the phone, she asked me to come over.
“He’s dead isn’t he,” I said. She didn’t answer me, she repeated herself “Just come over.” David had passed away that weekend of a heroin overdose.
“He never knew how much was too much,” one of his friends told me later, but it was all too much. I never thought he would touch the stuff, let alone did I think that I would be dragged into that circle by association. But there I was, at his funeral with his family, all of his friends who he had experimented with, played music with, and the girl he had stood up on a date because he was dead. It was surreal.
As I drove to his mother’s house, I stopped at the first traffic light and I felt myself surrender. I had a ways to drive, but knew that I had to keep it together for what was coming, and at that same time I gave in to the fact that I had no idea what was coming. I had lost loved ones before, but David was my first everything: twenty-six, bright, creative, loving and tormented by past demons, so his passing was especially shocking and bittersweet.
I had entered new territory: I had no idea how this grieving thing worked, knew I couldn’t do this on my own, and knew I needed help. That week as I dealt with funeral arrangements, I called the Dean of my school who was also my professor and asked him for help. He put me in touch with the counseling services there at UNT, and that next week I began one of the best experiences of my life. My psychologist was fantastic, a Godsend named Dr. Hipple. I had seen a counselor before, but it never had gone this well. From the beginning, we just clicked. Perhaps I was a more willing patient than I had ever been. He let me be me, didn’t ask why I had made the decisions I had made, didn’t take me back to past events in my life, and helped me through the grieving process. He didn’t take notes, didn’t hold back or censor himself, and I related to that completely. He got it: understood what I was going through, understood me.
At that first stop light, I knew grieving was going to take time, I knew I had no control over it, but I also resigned myself to the fact that everything happens for a reason. I didn’t know why I had to experience this, but knew that I was probably going to help someone in a similar situation in the future. As I went through the following months, I let the emotions happen as they came. At first this was ok, I could defend my actions and emotions by saying that I had just experienced the loss of someone special. But after about three months, it felt trivial to say that, everyone experiences extreme loss at some point.
In the beginning, I took it minute, by minute, then hour, by hour, then day by day. The days turned into months and then a year came and went, and before I knew it life had moved on. Believe it or not, this is the same strategy I use when I go through life changes: break-ups, cancer, career changes. It helps to stay in the moment and “be” with that experience. I am also very glad for such a positive counseling experience, because of this, I know that it helps and know the difference it can make in ones life. As a result of David’s death, I stop and embrace what’s beautiful: clouds in the sky, great music, friends and family, to name a few. In those early moments of grieving, I would stop and think, “He would have loved this.” Life is short, life is precious, death is certain, but it’s all a beautiful process that we all get one shot at, embrace it.