We have acclimated to the climate and, except for the steamiest of hot summer days, we do not turn on our air conditioning until mid-morning. That means we still keep the sliding glass door to the lanai open in the early morning hours. Our cat, Buddy, appreciates this. He hunts lizards in the pool area and likes coming and going as he pleases.
I am not a big fan of
air-conditioning, but it is essential here. I cannot imagine what life
in Florida (or anywhere in the Deep South) was like before air-conditioning. Still, we both like to put
off turning it on until the sweat is dripping down the back of our
necks. Like everyone else in Florida I bitch about the heat; however, I would rather live through a Central Florida summer than an Upstate New York winter. No contest. I like the heat, and the humidity makes my hair curly. If only I had lived here in the late 1960's during my Janis Joplin hair phase.
I am slowly coming out of a deep funk that started when my mother died earlier this year. I am surprised at how hard this has hit me because I thought I was ready for her death. It is so confusing, this
grief thing. I have lived through the deaths of my father and two
brothers. As Amy Shumer's boss says in Trainwreck, this is not my first rodeo. I wonder if it is hitting me harder this time because I am retired and I actually have time to grieve this loss?
The past few weeks I have noticed a change for the better. About damn time, too! I am becoming more aware of myself and the world around me each morning. I take this as a good sign. I do not know about you, but I can usually predict my mood for any given day by how I experience morning.
Early mornings in Central Florida are almost always stunning. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and there is lush green foliage everywhere. The first 8 months we lived in this house I woke up every single morning thinking, "Another day in paradise!" Then Mom died and I did not notice much of anything.
The worst part is I have not been aware of what was happening to me. Grief sneaks up on a person like the proverbial thief in the night. I am reminded of a big cat when she is on the hunt. She approaches soundlessly, quietly; the prey rarely knows she is coming. In an instant she pounces and tears into the neck with her killing teeth. Clamping on with that unforgiving death grip, she shakes that poor critter till it dies from a broken neck. The only difference is that Grief goes for the heart. Grief has taken me like that. She shook me like an alcoholic housewife shakes her first martini of the day. If you have experienced grief OR if you are (or know) an alcoholic you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Not surprisingly I have
spent this fallow period longing for the past, yearning for a
whole shitload of things I have lost along the way. You know - my amazing flower gardens up North, living in a
progressive and liberal college town, my
black-handled scissors, and a time when I still had a
mother. This really has to change. I want to move on. One can
effectively deal with the present and make necessary changes that will
affect the future; but the past is just that. Those things are GONE. Except for the black-handled scissors, I think they are someplace in this house. But anyway, here's the deal: Living in the past involves very little actual living.
All I have done for 5
long months is complain. I cry, I lose my temper, I behave badly. I am
not trying to be this awful person - at some point I simply lost control. Please do not misunderstand my complaints about grief; I think grief work is important. It has
meaning. A person needs to go through it, needs to feel their emotions,
blobbity, blah, blah, blah. I am just so *^!%# tired of it. Enough! I
am ready to be done with mourning. I wonder if I can pull that off,
change myself just by wanting it? What are the practical limits of
This morning I stayed in bed long after waking up, a guilty retiree pleasure. I eventually got up and walked into the living room. The sliding glass door was open to the world. As luck would have it, I noticed the blue sky, the pool, and the palm trees out back. I can assure you I was not looking for them, I just turned my head and there they were. I immediately thought "Wow, another day in paradise!" I felt good and I wanted more.
My handsome husband is an early riser and he always makes the coffee before I get up. This is yet another reason why I love that man. I poured myself a cuppa joe and thought how great it was to have the morning to myself. I went into my home office (aka N's playroom) and turned on the computer where I sat down to check email and, perhaps, to write.
The view from my office window caught my eye. I used to look out and observe my neighbors' comings and goings. THAT was a waste of time! Consequently, I moved my computer screen and now it blocks the lower part of the window. I no longer see my neighbor's houses. Now I pretend I live in the woods. I see blue sky, two large sycamores, a part of the neighbor's live
oak, and the top of our screamin' pink crepe myrtle. It looks like this:
Grief is a common ailment. I have friends who are also mourning the loss of a loved one right now. For some the worst will last a few months, for others it might last a year or even more. Grief is not a one-size-fits-all emotion. I do not believe the feeling of loss ever completely goes away, but at some point we find a way to rebuild our lives without the people we loved and lost. This is what we do. There is no shame in being human. There is no shame in feeling pain or in feeling loss. It is perfectly okay to ask for help. These are the lessons Grief is teaching me. If I learn my lessons well maybe She will leave me alone.