The End of the World, Not So Much, and Where to From Here?

biteme

I haven’t been here in awhile.  I have posted on my other sites that are mostly on things theological but as far as my personal life and the transitions I’m going through, I haven’t commented much.  It’s been a lot to process, and continues to be a lot to process, so I really haven’t put the words together yet.

My silence might sound strange given the rather cynical nature of my commentary here, and also a bit critical because there really is no compartment of life called a “spiritual life.” Spirituality is everywhere- from the sacred to the profane and everywhere between, so why can I write about spiritual things but not so much on others?  I am well aware that while by the grace of God I may be a saint, but I am most certainly still a sinner too.   Given that, I realize that what I write here may or may not be spiritually edifying to others even though it may be a.) funny and b.) cathartic for me.  Perhaps I have needed a bit less catharsis than usual, which is probably not a bad thing.

As far as living in my grandmother’s old house, I have never felt more at home.  Possibly it’s because I can (within budget and reason) do whatever I want with décor as well as with my time and- this is key- who I spend my time with.  I am almost afraid to even mention that someone has found me (because trust me, I was NOT looking) and suffice to say life is different.  Interesting.  Purposeful.  Alive.

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I never bought into the princess stories as a child.  I knew I wasn’t the princess.  I was the leftover, the consolation prize, the last choice, the one who shovels the shit when the parade is over.  I still don’t buy into fairy tales.  But it is a gift and a welcome comfort to have someone in my life now who doesn’t see me as a whipping post, or as a built in maid, or as interactive furniture.  It is a welcome change to be a part of at least a symbiotic relationship, but dare I admit- it is much more than that.

Of course being one of those once bitten, twice shy people I am moving with caution.  I don’t need a man.  I certainly do not need to be a substitute mommy for anyone.  I’ve never been in this position before and I’m 48 years old- where I want to be with someone simply because it feels good and right when we’re together.  And that’s all I want to say publicly for now.

As to the macabre business of dealing with dead people’s stuff, that’s not so pleasant.  Just a couple of weeks ago I finally boxed up the rest of Jerry’s old stuff- clothes and various kitsch- and gave it to the Salvation Army.  I kept the tools and a few momento type things, but not much.

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I wanted to make the spare room nice for my granddaughter when she spends the night, so she can have her own special place. There is no sense in keeping old crap around that’s not being used and taking up space when someone in need might get some use out of it.

I am still going through the shit of getting his truck title and bank accounts released to me through the court.  Not that any of that stuff is horribly valuable, but I have been pursuing it since October.  I don’t know if it’s the lawyer’s office that is pokey as hell or the court itself.  Probably both.

I don’t know how common it is when someone who survives a person who was terminally ill actually feels more relieved than grieved when his or her spouse dies.  Maybe it’s normal in some circumstances.  He’s been dead since October and I really can’t say I’ve ever been the classic grieving widow.  Granted, our marriage was never a terribly happy one, to put it mildly. It was pretty much defined by Jerry’s alcoholism and gambling, and then the pulmonary fibrosis.  Maybe that’s why the primary emotion I’ve been feeling is relief, as if a huge weight has been lifted off of me.  That’s not to say I am completely heartless.  There are things I miss about him, but on the whole I have a better life.  I am no longer making a game out of how many times he can call me a bitch between 5 and 6 AM as I’m getting ready for work.  I certainly do not miss that. Should I feel like a total shit because I am no longer being bitched at and browbeaten every time I turn around?  At least I am being honest, and that should count for something.

I am not sure exactly what my life is going to look like moving forward.  I know my boundaries a lot better.  I know I enjoy quiet, a simple existence, a tidy home, autonomy and my dogs.

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Finding Ephemera, and Joy In the Morning?

butts_dispensary

I have been trolling about online for 19th century ads for patent medicine and other assorted ephemera as well as car ads for vintage Toyotas, and I might consider some 1970s era ads for hygiene products and/or clothing (because that shit is hilarious) and various other weird things to transform into wall art for my house.

It’s my house. I’m the only one who lives there.  So my décor is entirely up to me. If I wanted to paint every wall in the house hot pink that is my prerogative.  I haven’t done that, mostly because a.) I don’t have time, and b.) hot pink would look weird on paneling.  This being said, eclectic is the only word I have to describe what I want.  If I like it, it goes up.

68toyotacoronacoupe                                   (but they didn’t synchronize reverse until the 2000’s)

There might be some that think I am being heartless or a bit callous in the transitions I’m making in my life.  The precious only male child is more than a little incensed that I have had the truck detailed (and that I am letting a friend in need borrow the truck for awhile) yet he never claimed that he wanted it or cared what I did with it before.  I know everyone handles grief differently, but why he would want me to let the truck sit in the garage and rot (and reek of old cigarettes and various food wrappers) is beyond me.

The difficult thing is that I have been waiting for years to be able to “get on with my life-” to be able to go have a good time if I feel like it, and to participate at church and in other activities.  No, it’s not about partying like a rock star (way too old) or anything debauched, just being able to do what I want, when I want, within reason.  I feel sort of bad because Mom and Dad both think that because I live back in town and I live alone that I am going to want to spend all my time away from work with them.  The idea here is not to ignore them, but I do have people I want to be around, and things I would like to do that don’t involve them.

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It has felt good to be able to go have dinner with a friend, to go out to malls and such, or to sit and watch old Journey concerts on You Tube.  And I am not going to feign being the “grieving widow” because I’m not feeling it. I spent too many years dealing with Jerry and his tirades and demands.  I am prone to depression, and if I really wanted to fall into that mess I probably could, but I’ve spent too much time there already.  Life is short, and I’ve already wasted enough of it being used and worn out and depressed.

And to be frank about it, 12 years of involuntary chastity was not exactly what I signed up for either.  I am certainly not easy or a slut (otherwise, I don’t see going 12 years without, married or not) but should the right opportunity (and I emphasize the word right) arise to remedy that situation, I am not going to refuse.  I am a free woman now.

Grief, a Primer, and We All Need New Frontiers

dream after dream

I haven’t been here in awhile.  Between moving (still can’t find most of my winter clothes) and tending to the dying, I am surprised I am still relatively calm and sane. Even so my absence here is ironic, because I’ve certainly had the need for catharsis and venting and a place to sort out all the conflicting emotions (there’s that dirty word – emotions– again) that have been rolling about in my head.  I’ve just been scattered so far and wide that I’ve not had the time.

Unfortunately I was right about Jerry in his illness, that he would not survive long once he couldn’t work any more.  He was deemed permanently disabled July 8th.  He died October 21st.  It was a hellish ride, and slowly suffocating to death is a cruel and shitty way to die.   Pulmonary fibrosis finally won out, and I emphasize, it is a very shitty way to die.

I am thankful that he didn’t die like his Dad did (also of pulmonary fibrosis)- after a week of poking, prodding and fruitless and painful interventions in intensive care.  Jerry was fortunate enough to die at home, I think, if only because of his determination to stay out of hospitals.  After witnessing his Dad’s horrible death in the hospital a only a week earlier, yeah, I’d want to stay the freak out of that mess too.  Especially when you have a terminal illness and death is the inevitable outcome.  Nothing that hospital could do was going to make him any better or move him toward any kind of recovery.

I am not going to pretend that our marriage was loving or happy.  Most of the time, with some brief exceptions, it wasn’t either one. Most of the time it was barely tolerable.  For me it was upholding a choice to do what I said I would, even if the decision I made was an ill-advised one.  Marry in haste, repent in leisure. Got it.

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This isn’t to say that I didn’t love him or care, but that I’ve been worn down by many years of dealing with his alcoholism and weathering the emotional and verbal abuse that is part of that.   I can’t say that I was perfect or blameless either, and hindsight being 20/20 I still wonder if it would have been more admirable or noble for me to have left him quietly long ago.  Even though it came about in a fashion I would not wish on anyone, twenty one years later, that obligation is over.

This is the hard part that my family (as well as his family and some of our mutual friends)is having a hard time understanding.  I’ve been mourning for a very long time already.  I’ve been mourning the fact that I spent 20+ years of my life in a difficult and troubled marriage.  I’ve been mourning the reality of living with an alcoholic and riding that rollercoaster ride. I’ve been mourning witnessing someone I once loved suffering and dying in a most horrible way.  Mourning has been a way of life for me for way too long.

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Even so, I’m not dead yet. I’m not getting any younger, either.  Excuse me if I want to live. I am not prostrate in grief.  Yes, I am sad that he suffered the way he did, and I miss him in some ways, but in most ways I’m relieved.  Relieved that his suffering is over, and that I am free to pursue my own life, whatever that might mean.

By the grace of God new frontiers are right in front of me, and in ways I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.  I’m living an ending and a beginning at the same time.  As truly bizarre as it might sound, I can’t help to stand back and feel blessed and in awe.

 

 

Death, Life Beyond Miz Izz, and Something Else to Say

Isabelnotamused

So I haven’t been around for awhile.  There’s a few reasons for that.  Let’s start off by saying I hope no one else in my sphere dies anytime soon.  Death sucks.  Especially when it’s Miz Izz.

I acquired Miz Izz- Isabel- as a four-week old (it’s really easy to estimate young kittens’ age) that had been abandoned in a grocery store parking lot.  What amazed me is that a typical feral cat, even one that tiny, would have at least tried to run or fight, but not Isabel. She let me scoop her up and take her home.  As if she belonged.  And she did.

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This is Jezebel at 9 weeks- she and Isabel were virtually identical as far as looks and build.

Had Isabel lived another month she would have been 16 years old.  But her poor little body just couldn’t take any more.  She had always been petite and somewhat frail, and she had become even more so when she developed a condition called “pillow foot” or more correctly, plasma cell pododermatitis. Suffice to say this is a nasty condition, and Isabel had it rather severely.  At times her paws would swell up so much they would bleed and I would have to take her to get shots- which helped for awhile, but then she became too fragile for the meds (prednisone and doxycycline.)

Maybe I shouldn’t miss an old, fragile black cat with set ways and a loud voice.  But I do.

Death can be a mercy, especially when someone is suffering and there isn’t any real fix for it, when there’s no longer any good life to be had. My last good memory of Isabel was of her greedily snapping up pieces of top sirloin as we shared a steak.  The dogs were outside of course, and the only two cats that were ever bold enough to ever approach my Steak Experience were Isabel and Jezebel.  Jezebel is a bit more restrained, but Isabel never had a problem getting right up close to get her little bits of gristle and fat.  That was the last time I can say I knew Isabel was still enjoying being a cat.  I buried her a week later.

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Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

I admit that I fight with the idea that humane euthanasia is OK when a cat or a dog is suffering and they have gotten beyond what I would call “good life to be had,” but the same concept doesn’t apply to humans.  I understand, at least from a spiritual and theological view, that God is the Author of life. Since humans are made in His image, we generally don’t have the authority to take human life away.  (Capital punishment is an exception to the general prohibition against taking human life, and so is just war, but those are topics worthy of their own separate and detailed discussions.  Suffice to say that I believe in the merits of both, in the proper circumstances.)

Dead_Body_Man_by_MrMotts

 

It is morally right to put a cat or a dog to sleep when he or she is suffering and he or she stops enjoying being a cat or a dog.  Euthanasia for humans is not acceptable even when it would seem to be a mercy.

As far as the higher purpose of human suffering, I’ll be the first to say I don’t get it.

Not that I would put a human life into the same (noble but still lower) category as the life of Miz Izz, but my mother-in-law had been suffering and confined to a wheelchair for most of the time that Miz Izz walked the earth.  My mother-in-law died last Saturday after being confined to a wheelchair for 15 years, suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure and a laundry list of other maladies.  Her last two weeks were particularly brutal.

I don’t believe in euthanasia for humans- not ever- but sometimes I’ve got to ask God why.  Isabel pretty much enjoyed her cat life up until the last week of it. Granted happiness for cats is fairly easy- somewhere to sleep, food to eat and somewhere to drop a load.  Human life is a lot more complicated, but still, why did Jerry’s Mom have to suffer for so freaking long?

monty python evacuation

Hospice is a great help for those who are actively dying, but it can only mitigate the process.

Worse than her dying was the funeral. I understand Southern Baptist soteriology (understanding of the mechanism of salvation) pretty well.  “Turn or Burn” is pretty standard fare at SB funerals, but to the uninitiated, it is about as anti-PC as one can get.  You don’t get a funeral message too often that includes, “Do you know where you’ll be if you get hit by a truck on the way out of here?”

Jerry’s sisters were a bit taken aback.  I had tried to give Steve-o a heads up on SB soteriology before the funeral so he wouldn’t freak out. His religious understanding has pretty much been shaped by growing up in a Lutheran church, so the really fundamental interpretations of SB soteriology would sound a bit bat-shit crazy to him.  Mom has confused him enough by trying to throw in the Catholic earn – your -points system.

I grew up around Regular Baptists (even more of the “Turn or Burn” mentality than the SBs) so I know all too well there could possibly be an altar call.  There wasn’t.  He did do the Sinners’ Prayer though.  I have to hand it to the preacher for preaching the gospel instead of offering pallid platitudes on how much life sucks and then you die, ya – da ya-da. At least Steve-o had a heads up.

Lutherans don’t do altar calls.  Our pastors do occasionally mention hell, but not usually at funerals.

It just seems strange to me. Life and death and all of that.