Tag Archives: darkness

Into the Light

Our 1,000 cranes

I realize that I have a tendency to reflect a lot here, but the point of the blog, when I started it, was to give voice to things I just didn’t have the ability or the company to say out loud.  I didn’t go to therapy, I know everything I’m going through, or seem to know.  I know what I feel guilty about.  I know what I loved about my wife.  I know how hard the last year and a half have been, I didn’t really need anyone to tell me how it wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew my kids might need it, and some did.  I knew they needed me to be less the gruff, hardened Dad and soften more than I normally might have been.

But there is light.  The reason this whole blog didn’t start until October . . . when Andrea passed in March . . . was because I wasn’t sure I was seeing any of the light.  I had four kids and I loved them more than anything.  I needed to get to the point where I was in a routine and able to take care of them.  I started when the routine started to settle and I realized that I still hadn’t come fully through the veil of grief that had enveloped me.

The other reason is that we had fallen so far that I didn’t think it was possible to get back up.  The dark was black as ink and I was nearly swallowed by the deep pull of it.  It’s easy to fall into that place, it really is.  Just losing your wife can be the worst thing in the world.  I lost her, our home, was facing a pay cut, was facing moving out of California in order to survive.  I couldn’t keep Abbi in her school because tuition was too much.  Basic survival, those were the things that were swirling around me.  When I thought it couldn’t get much worse it did.  I wasn’t sure at all that we’d come through the other side.

Until we wished on those damn cranes.  I know I wrote about this before.  There’s a point here.

There’s a Japanese tradition that if you wish on 1,000 paper cranes your wish may come true.  When we had fallen my Hannah’s class folded 1,000 of them and gave them to us.  They folded more and made a piece of art for us.  While I know that I’d been looking as hard as I could for work that would help me stay, that I applied for Social Security for the kids, that I was looking for a home . . . none of it seemed to be working.  But a short time after I was offered a job.  We got a home and then we got the kids’ social security.  Our wish?  Help us stay here . . . the kids’ home.  I never really thought of it as mine, but it’s really the longest we’d stayed anywhere.  They needed one stable thing – one piece of land to dig their toes into that wouldn’t change.

I’ve been in the darkness.  I would say it’s not a good place – and it isn’t – but it is easy to let it envelop you.  I don’t think a lot of people understand how much you want to feel this.  The hurt is so bad and there are waves, almost like a riptide, that folds around you and pulls you under.  In the beginning it’s hard to fight.  You hate this but you accept it, too.

But at some point you see the light.  It’s not a “walk into the light” thing, at least it wasn’t for me.  It’s more like driving through a fog and it starts to burn away.  You don’t really notice you’re not there anymore until it’s grey . . . then it’s spots of grey . . . and then you see the sky.  This isn’t just grief, it’s all of it.

I know this, and two people I care about are now going through this.  One lost her job, her husband taking a massive pay cut.  They have kids.  They care for others.  What do you do when that much comes onto your shoulders at the same time?

You give the cranes away.  We made it through to the point where the grey is fading.  It’s not all light, no, but there’s more light than dark.  For them the inky darkness was looming.  They needed a glow of some sort.  I kept the picture, the extra cranes, but I spoke with the kids and we gave away the cranes.  It wasn’t that we knew it helped us or that it was a sure thing.

It’s that we got the thoughts, support, and love from people around us.

So I gave away 1,000 cranes.  I can only hope they still have some magic left.

Defending the Indefensible

My children have grown to be enormous fans of a Syfy (worst network name ever, by the way) Network program called Eureka.  It’s an odd little show that has grown on me throughout the several seasons we’ve watched.  The family grew to like it so much that in order to catch up we actually downloaded all the previous seasons and watched them before meeting up with the show a couple seasons back.  The kids were so completely excited to watch tonight’s final season premier that they convinced me to allow them to break one of my few rules – and we ate in the living room and watched the show, recorded on the DVR.

The show has had an increasingly frustrating plot line where two of the main characters dance around the fact they are falling in love only to have obstacles thrown in their way.  My daughters, in particular, fall for the romantic comedy of the show and grow increasingly angry with the fact that the characters get together only to be thrown apart again.  Tonight was no exception.  The difference in this night, though, was the fact that the program threw half the characters into a set of circumstances that had them disappear.  To the female lead it seemed only moments.  The others lost four years.

In that time the male character fell in love with another and it was maddening to the kids, so much so that they began to get angry with the characters on the screen, Jack Carter and Jo Lupo.  The two characters ended up together when they both thought the loves of their lives had died.  My oldest thought it disgusting.  My middle found it disheartening.  They grew more astounded when they found me defending the very thing they found indefensible.  I was defending the fact that the two people who thought they’d lost the loves of their lives ended up together.  My daughters looked at me appalled by the fact I could defend the actions.

Perhaps you think it’s silly I bring up the plot of a crazy Sci-fi show as an example here in this blog, but in a crazy way I felt like I could understand what they two of them were going through.  The character on the show defends himself to the woman he once loved saying that the other woman “brought him back.”  It is the gap in our understanding of what the other has lost.  The kids lost their Mom, and I cannot begin to understand what that is like except through the limitations I see of my own parenting.  I wish I could say that made me keenly aware of what they’re going through, but I can do little more than anticipate what I think they need and listen keenly when they need me.

But by the same token, they are all too young.  None of these four can understand what it is to have lost someone who joins your life so completely that you cannot see where your heart ends and theirs begins.  The character, Jack, tells his first love that he was lost, so far, that this woman was the only thing that pulled him from the madness of the grief.  My children could not understand the pull that sadness like this has.  I didn’t have another love to pull me through, I don’t know that I could ever have accepted it if it had been given.  Where the character on the show had a friend that became more . . . I had more.  I had my family and a good number of friends that helped me to walk out of the darkness.  What’s hard is that I don’t even think I’m fully in the light yet.  This kind of grief, this loss, is like standing in a foreign room with no light, nothing but pure darkness, and trying to feel your way around for the door.  Each successive room is a bit lighter, but each room bears only a bit more light.

My way out, the anchor to stop my slipping completely into the the bottom of the pit, was no single person.  I had a crew of people that started with my children, moved to my parents and then moved to the friends that wanted little more than to help me succeed.  Where Jack Carter, the main character on the show Eureka had a person to pull him out, it took an entire group of people to keep me from embracing the darkness, so deep was my grief.  I don’t think many people understand this.  My daughter, for sure, won’t watch movies or shows that make her sad.  I have found, in some of the worst times in the last year, I sought out those very things.

This isn’t simply sadness or pain, it’s rapturous despair.  In a world today where we focus on ourselves, where marriage is a throwaway item, where a Kardashian can think a marriage less than three months is a good publicity generator, understanding that meeting the person that’s most important – the woman or man that completes you when you didn’t know you were incomplete, or gives you the confidence to do things you never knew you could do – is foreign.  I did find that only to have it ripped away.  I didn’t want to feel better.  Even a year later, some days I still don’t.  The darkness and the veil are so tempting in that stat of mind, particularly right after Andrea died, I don’t think a single person could have pulled me out of its grasp.

For that reason, I defended the characters, Jack and Jo.  Yet where the television can re-write the ending, I cannot.  The moment I take a step forward it’s like she pulls me two steps back.  Every time I feel us getting to a good point, she comes back, a random check coming into our mailbox helped by her career choices.  I file the kids’ artwork in a cabinet only to find a box full of photos that reminds me of years past.  Pictures of her face send my mind and soul reeling back when I want them to keep moving forward.  I miss and love her so completely, but she gets to be at peace.  She gets to rest in the eternal while we all have to forge ahead weighed down my the memory of her impinging on our futures.  I simultaneously miss her and am angry at her for leaving me with this.  Then I feel guilty for having been angered for something over which she had no control.  As I said, the past has a way of pulling us away from where we need to go.

So when my children see one of their favorite characters with another woman, someone who treats him well in spite of the want and need of the audience for it not to be so, I understand and empathize.  I see the two conflicting characters kiss and think to myself, how can I not understand their need?  To me, it’s even a little sweet, an adjective I rarely use.

Like so many other things, the plot line was a ruse, something my children saw as vindication for their feelings.  But I looked at the story that aired and thought, even though it’s not what everyone wants, someone has to defend the indefensible.