Tag Archives: Grief

March 31 – Ghost Story

by Linda Hoye

Benson and beyond-1 (600x429)

The ghost lets me know she needs to stop again; I’ve momentarily forgotten her. I pull over and get out of the car to listen to the silence again, but I’m surprised to find that it really isn’t silent at all. I hear the click click click of grasshoppers flying and birds singing. In the distance, where the sky is now dark and angry, a fork of lightning reaches down to touch the prairie. Like me, it can’t resist just a touch of the land. The boom of thunder follows.

“The giants are bowling!” the ghost calls back to me as she runs across the field.

I smile at her exuberance.

Saskatchewan’s warm wind wraps around me. You are home, she whispers. I’ve heard that one can’t go home again, but I don’t want to believe it. I want to be home; I need to be home. The sky opens up and the rain starts; I look out in the direction where I saw the ghost running. Her face is turned toward the sky and her arms are waving above her head; she’s dancing in the rain. I can hear her laughter faintly in the distance.

The same rain the ghost is dancing in falls on me as I watch her carefree movements. I lift my own face toward the sky, and the cool rain mingles with the tears I am powerless to hold back. I close my eyes and let the rain wash the tears from my face as I breathe deeply, the scent of the summer rain like aromatherapy for my bruised and broken heart.

I should call the ghost back; I should get going; Aunt Edie is expecting me.

But I don’t move; I stand still and let the raindrops mingle with my tears and allow myself to let go, to weep deeply, to feel the anguish I’ve held in so tightly for too long, the grief to which I’ve been afraid to surrender. I grieve for the deaths of Mom and Dad, for the pain of not having them in my life, the sorrow I feel at having had them so briefly. I grieve for the death of my dreams, the breakdown of my marriage, the emptiness I feel inside, the mantle of responsibility so heavy on my shoulders. I grieve for my children and the mistakes I’ve made and the mistakes I see them making. I grieve for the loss of my birth mother. And I grieve for myself.

When I am spent, I open my eyes. The rain is just a drizzle now, and in the distance there is a break in the clouds. I turn my head, prepared to call the ghost back, but I’m surprised to see her standing next to me. She is simply standing there, looking up at me with eyes as big as plates,  her hair like long wet strings. I squat down and gently take her face in my hands.

Thank you for coming with me today, I tell her.

She smiles, and we get back in the car; this time I invite the ghost to sit in the front, beside me. I pull out onto the prairie road and turn the car around in the opposite direction from the way we were traveling before.

“What are you doing?” the ghost asks. “Stoughton is that way.”

I know. It’s not much farther, and we’ve got plenty of time.

“But where are we going?” she asks.

We’re going back to get your tadpoles.

Her face lights up with a big smile and I reach over and take her hand in mine.

 

(Hoye, Linda, Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, Benson Books, 2012)

Linda Hoye is a writer, editor, adoptee, and a somewhat-fanatical grandma whose work has appeared in an assortment of publications in Canada and the U.S. Her memoir, Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, is the story of her journey through the abyss of grief and coming out the other side whole, healed, and thankful.

 

Retime-1 (179x269) (2)red from a twenty-five-year corporate career , she lives in British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier where she finds contentment in her kitchen, at her writing desk, behind her camera, and in her garden. 

September 25 – Mind Games

by Nancy Rankie Shelton

Thoughts jump into my brain
running around and around
bad ones trampling
good ones
good ones, hopeful ones,
try to grab unwanted invaders
in tight double-fisted clutches
to shove them back out of bounds.

The frantic race, the struggle
becomes so disturbing
the only way
to calm the panic
is to force
other, stronger thoughts
into the overcrowded boxing ring
my mind has become.

So I listen to audio books
blare my music
binge on Netflix TV shows
season after season in one sitting.
I plaster cracks
in the walls and
slather paint
over the repairs.

And I run.
First two miles, then four, then six, now ten.
I swim, thirty minutes at a time,
totally exhausting myself
so that when I come home
my mind will let me
read a book while
I soak in my hot bathtub.

It’s the end of September,
the end of summer,
more than three years after
Jack died.
I’m adding another hobby
designed to
overpower my brain.
I’m cycling.

My first outing with John
was twenty miles.
My second with Nick
was ten.
My next will be
with just me
to see how far I need to go
to completely exhaust myself.

All this running and swimming and cycling
has changed the way I look
to my friends.
I’m told I look great
better than I’ve looked in years.
My mirror
utters no such
lie.

My mirror reveals
increased and deepened lines
that disfigure my neck
and frame my eyes.
Skin sagging from my biceps
mark me old and tired.
Age spots tell more truth
than my friends.

And the thoughts,
good ones and bad,
keep jumping into my mind.
The battle rages
as I try to hold
onto an old self
an old life that slips away,
piece by piece.

Piece by piece I’m losing
Jack, my memory,
his belongings,
things shared
are fading and disappearing.
In tight, double-fisted clutches
I try to protect them, keeping them
in bounds, in my mind.

NShelton

Nancy Rankie Shelton is a Literacy Professor at UMBC. She’s an avid reader and writer. Most of her publications are in literacy education and politics, but her first non-academic publication will be released this fall. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

April 13 – Our Magical Goodbye Walk

by Lorna Earl

I was sickened with grief.

My canine companion, a scruffy three-year-old Terrier mix I adopted, died suddenly when he slipped his collar and ran into traffic. He was thirteen years old. The last time I felt as lost, abandoned, and downright empty was when my husband left me. He’s still alive.

Phil, my fiancé, tried to keep me busy, but he was grieving, too. We were a sorry pair. He was worried that my chronic fatigue symptoms would flare from the stress. So was I. I thought about scientific articles correlating pet ownership to health. How ironic. I took extra medication to help me sleep.

Fearing depression and an inflamed immune system malaise, I woke knowing I had to pull myself back from the hole into which I was falling. The hole in my heart.

I laid in bed and asked myself, “How can a hole feel so damned heavy?” Irony was everywhere.

I reached over and poked Phil. He stirred.

“I’m going for a walk,” I said.

This was an act of courage because every morning I took Scrappy for a walk and this walk would be solo.

“Do you want me to come with you?”

“No, I have to do this alone.”

“Okay. Just be careful.” It was dark, raining, and windy. Phil worries about me.

“I will. I just need to do this.”

And I did. Armed with my rain gear and a handful of tissues, I headed off into the pre-dawn darkness. That’s when I started talking aloud to Scrappy. First, I told him how sorry I was for not protecting him from harm.

“I hope your soul left before you felt any pain, Buddy. After you rest a bit, I bet you’ll be running and exploring with the best of them wherever you are.”

Second, I talked about our journey together and how maybe he knew it was time that I travel alone. We met when we were both abandoned souls, teaching each other about trust.

“I’ll always love you, Scrap. Thank you so much for being right there with me through those tough days. Remember when it was just you and me?”

Finally, I told him about how I was strong enough to walk alone.

“You were my brave and perfect companion but you don’t need to protect me anymore. It’s your time to do what you want.”

When I said this last declaration to him three things happened simultaneously:  The pelting rain stopped instantaneously; the wind that kept blowing the hood off my head died down to nothing; and the grief-grip on my heart released.

I smiled, knowing that my independent pal finally understood something I said. We spoke soul-to-soul and he got the message.

His sparkling love now fills my heart, effervescent and light. Do I miss him? Sure I do. But on our magical Goodbye Walk, something shifted and he was with me in a new way.

We still walk together every morning . . . in that new way.

Lorna was a sociology professor. Creative writing is her new path since her premature disability retirement due to Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. She has written two self-published books: a memoir and a historical fiction novel. Lorna has been blogging since 2010 at Lorna’s Voice.