Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 51

when you feel safe and private, there’s nothing wrong in “Yes, but in the meantime, how do I muster the energy this, is there?” she asked. “Just because you’re not breaking and enthusiasm to get up in the morning?  For 37 years down over those cucumbers doesn’t mean your love or my meaning and pleasure were intertwined with someone your connection to Philip are lost. If you stop worrying and called Philip. What, who, and how am I to be without judging yourself, I think you’ll realize that love is never lost, him?” even when life is.” In time (a hugely overused phrase in the language of In another session, I asked if other couples have idiotic well-intended but useless comfort), people suggest that conversations about who should die first. Philip will gently step aside, though never away. They tell   me new friends, creative endeavors, new interests, and “We did,” I said with a sad, wry smile. “Tell me,” she said. “He’d say, ‘I should die first because I can’t cope as well as you.’” “‘That’s absurd,’ I’d answer.” “‘No, it isn’t,’ he’d counter.  ‘You know it would be much harder for me with my panic and inability to be in the world without you. possibly, one day down the road, even a new partner will “ fill today’s emptiness.  I hate this, especially the latter. A sense of purpose, I am told, is The narrator spoke of one survivor who set up a phone booth in his yard with an old rotary phone connected to nowhere. He uses this phone to “call” and talk to his lost loved ones. “ You’re stronger and would get over the grief in time.  Between my ongoing sickness and growing panic attacks, your life would to be attained via volunteer work or a part-time job; by staying busy; by spending time with others; getting a dog, a cat, - a gerbil?  Perhaps—but, right now, life is flat, pointless, devoid of meaning or pleasure. “What would bring comfort?” asked my therapist. “I don’t know. I don’t know that it’s comfort I want. Acknowledgment of pain. be so much easier if you didn’t have to take care of me. I Willingness to talk about Philip. But I can feel people knew he was right about the coping and strength parts but staying away from the painful topic,” I said. not the being better off without him.” “Also, I’d welcome invitations complete with the explicit “‘But I hate this,’ I’d say to him.  ‘I don’t want to cope or and implicit understanding that I can turn them down carry on without you. You are not a burden! I love you.’” if I can’t face turning up.  In fact, I think this is my new definition of a friend: someone who will understand if I “And now, here I am,” I said to the therapist. “He, having cancel last minute, if I say, ‘No thanks.’” gone first as he wished, and having left me behind to cope,” I said.  “But this coping also makes me feel Later that day, I repeated some of this conversation to my separated from myself—like I’m playing a part, walking mother. through my days and being with people as an actor with no heartfelt sense of presence or meaning, no joy.” “Philip’s death is unspeakably awful,” she said. “Nothing and no one can take this pain from you.” “You do know this is to be expected for a time – your time, right?” she asked. “Is this how you felt when Dad died?” 51