This has been an emotionally difficult week. I've struggled to keep the tears at bay and have been consumed by an overwhelming sadness. I've felt so very alone, forgotten, left behind and I've had to acknowledge some emotions I'm not very proud of. Perhaps I need to use a widow card.
I learned last Saturday night that a 49-year-old coworker had suffered a massive stroke. Joyce was in fabulous shape, ate healthy, looked wonderful, was so full of life, planning to retire early in January ... how could this happen? The damage was so severe she was moved to hospice - the same hospice Vern was in - and she passed yesterday. All of the emotions from those 9 days last September when Vern was hospitalized and then moved to hospice came rushing back to me. Everything. The good. The bad. The hurts.
The shock of this tragedy has had a major impact at work. Walking past Joyce's empty desk each day this week was hard. I've prayed for her, for her husband, her boys, her mom, her best friend and family. I know how hard it is to make the decision to move to hospice, even when there really is no other choice. I know how difficult those days in hospice can be for loved ones. And I know how very lonely it can be. But the outpouring of support for Joyce's family has been just amazing. Crowds of family, friends, coworkers have visited and posted on her Facebook page.
And that's where my embarrassing feelings come to play because this has reminded me of how very, very different my experience was. Only a handful of people came by to support me during those final days in hospice; and it was rare to have visitors during all of those hospital stays. We have no family here. What did we do to cause this? Did we send out some kind of signal that said 'stay away'? Is it me? Have I pushed people away? I thought I had put those hurt feelings away, but apparently they’re still hanging around very close to the surface. People seem to have completely forgotten that I lost Vern just 7-1/2 months ago in the very same hospice. The comments and questions I’ve heard this week have been difficult to hear. And when I’ve dared to share my true feelings I’ve felt just horrible guilt. How dare I bring this tragic situation around to me and my feelings? How. dare. I.
If I could have, I would have signed retirement papers this week, walked right out the door immediately afterward, and headed off somewhere. Close down my FB page, leave my old life behind and go someplace where I know no one and these feelings would not come to play. But, of course, I couldn’t do that. There’s so much to take care of here first. I haven’t even cleared out his clothes yet; haven’t figured out what to do about his car or the wheelchair van; still have hospital-related things stacked up in the corner of the bedroom; messes everywhere that must be dealt with before I can even think of escaping. And then there's the paperwork. And the IRS. Yes, I'll be here awhile.
I know I promised to post my blog entries on Facebook, but I cannot do that with this one. I find it healing to write my true feelings out here. Once I put them in writing, it somehow takes away their sting. But I don’t want anyone to feel they have to DO anything, to feel badly about any of this, to think I’m asking for anything. It is what it is. It happened, it’s over, time to move on. If I don’t link it to FB, I won’t have to deal with any fallout. Coworkers and family have never posted here on the blog; a few post on FB when I've provided the link. My fellow widows and online friends are the only ones who post here, so this is safe. I expect that you will understand these feelings. So this post is just for me. It’s how I’ve felt this week and now that it’s in black & white I can shove these feelings once again back into my secret hiding place while I plan my escape.