Monday, December 14, 2009

Unbearable Winter

Winter is cold, lonely, and unpredictable.  Darkness descends upon us as the days grow shorter and nights grow longer. Winter brings winds of isolation and a depressing sense of endless effort. Trudging to work in the early morning hours with my breath clearly visible in the crisp morning air, eyes swollen and hands frozen. Wishing for another hour under the warm comforter pressed up against him like a personal space heater.

As my husband made the decision to  remove his mother from life support, I observed him going into to a state of emotional hibernation. His once gregarious and connective nature with others was diminished by his overwhelming sense of loss.  He became spiritually and emotional off balance. He was without his bearings and soon was far from the place where I might connect with him.

His deepening sense of loss and withdrawal from the world crept into our kitchen, living room and bedroom.  We became two strangers in the same space yet not anchored to each other.  We were lifeboats drifting further and further apart.  I even began to actively row in the other direction.

We luckily had an appointment to speak to our  therapist, who accurately described the presence of two disconnected people in his office.  He asked us to talk to one another.  I thought to myself, "talk to him, talk about what, exactly..." It literally felt like weeks since we had actually spoken to one another.

In my husband's defense, he had no idea he was slipping into the abyss of grief and loss. He did not realize that his mother, with all of her failings and peculiar ways, meant something so primary and so archetypal to him that her death had taken a piece of his identity away.

I think we all believe at some level when someone we love dies, that we will experience closure and resolution to issues that have long blocked our spiritual growth.  In James case, the death opened up a vacuum of vast and unexplored territories that he felt ill equipped to deal with.  So, he set out on a solo journey and marched promptly into the chasm of grief. A solo journey into the darkness of maternal abandonment and despair.

I wish I knew the right words to say or how to help him be "alright" however that is his process.  He will be on his journey of healing for however long it takes.  I cannot make it better. I can only make myself available to his needs and being a loving supportive presence in his life. My job as his wife is to be available for his comfort and be prepared to provide love and tenderness.  There is no more important act to perform when someone I love hurts, other than to love them as they are in the moment, and become that ray of sunshine in the dreary state of separation from all that is familiar and comforting.

Nightshirt Self-Portrait (For Lease), #5123
(c)2009 James W. Murray All Rights Reserved
(click on image for full-sized version) 

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