Hearts Breaking

I was not surprised to see that Debbie Reynolds died the day after her daughter. The experts declared it a stroke. I know it was heartbreak. Grief is powerful. I almost expected that this would happen – just as after June Carter Cash died, I waited to see how long Johnny Cash could last without her. Four months.

Today is my late husband’s birthday – he would have been 58. But he died when he was 44 and I was 33. I wish my heart had given out. I wish it had broken into a thousand pieces and I could have died in the weeks and months following his death. Hell, in the years following his death. Instead, my heart turned into fossilized coral. I buried my grief, my anger, my pain and I didn’t look back. I was mad. I am still mad. I do not know if that will ever go away.

Grief changes you. I believe all the way down to your DNA, down to a cellular level. This has been a rough year of losing so many people I respected. And although I didn’t know them personally, every death made me feel as if my heart was growing colder, harder. I am not good at grief. I do not know how to let it go. I have become an expert at burying it deeply with alcohol, cutting, and manic binges of shopping. Anything to make me forget the sorrow, and live in a world where the pain cannot touch me. Perhaps everyone is correct and I do live in my own reality.

I related to Carrie Fisher because she, too, was bipolar. And if you read anything about her life and the disease you will understand it never gets better. They “tweak” medications, they push you into therapy until you are hoarse from speaking. They want you to share, share, share. But I do not share. Not with strangers. Not with doctors who dress in white lab coats and stare at me over their spectacles and jot down notes that I will never get to read. Notes about me and my mind, my words, my feelings. And then just hand me another prescription to try.

I grieve over Debbie Reynolds because one of her most iconic roles was my namesake and her interpretation of this woman’s life was breathtaking. She made me proud to carry on the name, to declare myself unsinkable, even when I feel I am drowning in this life.

I am so tired of death that seems to hide around every corner these days, as we near the end of one year and the beginning of another. I am exhausted every time I open my computer and see that another tragedy has occurred. Not only with celebrities who are leaving us, but also the horrors around the world – Aleppo, trucks driving into holiday markets, gunmen shooting people in clubs while they dance in joy, simply because they believe in something different than the madmen who think their way is the only way to live.

We are all burdened with something. Mine is a mental disorder that hinders me from processing the world, my world, my reality the way others would like me to, or the way others simply do. Others lack food, shelter, safety. Others grieve over losses they cannot comprehend.

I cannot comprehend these losses either. I know life does not last forever. I know Buddha said “life is suffering” meaning it is impermanent and ever-changing. I understand this. I live this everyday. What I am trying to get to is seeing the beauty in that impermanence and get beyond the wall of suffering holding me back from seeing the good again.

I hope I can do it. The man I lost 13 years ago got it. He lived in the moment every day of his life. He lived in joy. And when I lost him, I lost that. I have been on a journey to find it ever since.

Happy Birthday, my darling rascal.

© Sorrow & Kindness


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