Ch.190 Doing OK But a Little Empty
By chance, I saw Pat’s cousin Cheryl as I entered the church where a concert raising money for Feed My People was taking place. Instead of asking how I am doing (A question I never know how to answer) Cheryl just made a statement: “I imagine you’re doing OK but feeling a little empty.” That’s about the best summary of where I am now, eight months after Pat’s death, as I could ever say. Except for one word: “little.” Because the level of emptiness I feel varies on a daily, hourly, even minute by minute basis. The emptiness gauge fluctuated several times during the concert, rapidly climbing from low to high when some particular lyrics hit a nerve (Such as “I’m going home”), then receding back toward “little.”
I find this situation ironic because fluctuation is the hallmark of Lewy Body Dementia. During those five years of affliction, Pat’s physical, mental, and emotional states varied erratically. Now it’s my turn, except this time it’s that feeling of emptiness – loneliness – that varies erratically, often without a specific reason. Suddenly, without warning, here comes a hollow sensation in my gut, or a heavy feeling in my chest, or an endless sigh, or a trickle of tears. Or all four. It’s dangerous to think about Pat in public, much less talk about her, because I can’t contain these emotional cascades. True, most of the people I spend time with know what I’m been dealing with; they are not afraid of my feelings. It’s me who is afraid of those feelings, not them. Not the feelings themselves, though, but my lack of control of them. It would be easier if I could just schedule a good fifteen minute cry, in private, once a day. First breakfast, then walk the dog and cat, check e-mail, break down crying, read a book…
Emptiness is just one part of grief but in my experience nothing about grief runs on schedule. As you may know, I really like schedules and routines. It doesn’t matter, though. I’m not in charge.