Sunday, November 27, 2011

Me and Bobby and Bruce and Clarence

NOTE: For those of you who are not aware, I am a huge Springsteen fan. So if you know who Springsteen is, then most likely you also know who Clarence Clemons is. Not only was Clarence Springsteen’s sax player in his E Street Band for about 30 years, he was also Bruce’s best friend. Clarence died in June of this year.

I took my son to band practice last Wednesday night, and I was talking to the other moms while we were waiting for our kids to be done. During our conversation, one of the moms asked, “Did you hear? Springsteen announced a 2012 tour?” and one of the other moms looked horrified and said, “Really? So soon after Clarence’s death?”

That sentence struck me – being a widow, you would not believe how many people think that once you’re a widow, moving forward is equated with disrespecting your spouse.

Well, here is a newsflash for those of you who think so – we already feel guilty enough for just being alive when the person we love most in the world is not. You don’t have to make us feel even more guilty. And by “moving forward”, I'm not necessarily talking about dating and/or remarriage.

This past summer I took a trip to Paris with my friend Toni. She and I signed up for a writing course (in English) in the morning, toured the city in the afternoon, and ate A LOT of great food in between. I had a really great time and I'm glad I went. However, before I went on the trip, I was almost afraid to tell anyone, for fear of being accused of disrespecting Bobby. I told very few of my friends and family that I was even going. While Toni posted on her Facebook page all about the trip before, during and after, I never posted one word. I was actually afraid of what people might say! What most people don’t know is that I brought with me a framed picture of Bobby which sat on my nightstand in my hotel room. And every time I saw something, heard something or tasted something that I know he would have liked, I thought of him. (I also liked that Toni considered him to be "watching over us".)

People are quick to judge those of us who’ve lost someone, and then subsequently do things for ourselves to try to move forward with our lives. Well, they certainly don’t need to. We do a great job judging ourselves, thank you.

So just as I thought of Bobby multiple times every single day on that trip to Paris, Bruce will think of Clarence with every song that he plays. And when I get my tickets and go to the concert, I will be remembering both Bobby and Clarence, too.

Hold, Please.....

When it comes to grieving, 99% of the people that I’ve spoken to about grief agree that keeping busy is the best way to deal with grief. And I will admit, keeping busy does cause me to forget about my grief and deal with whatever the task at hand happens to be, whether it is work, the kids, taking care of the house, the cat, or a relative. Even going out with friends and spending fun times with family allows me to think about something else besides my grief. And this is a good thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

Here is a new take on the subject...if we are constantly dealing with other things, we are not dealing with our grief. Shortly after Bobby died, a good friend told me that the only way to deal with my grief is to walk straight through it. She told me not to try to go around it, under it or over it, because in walking through it, I can deal with it, and possibly make peace with it. But how can we do this when we are constantly putting it on hold?

I’m nineteen and a half months into widow-hood, and I truly believe that I have not yet dealt with my grief. So many other aspects of life, both negative and positive, have gotten in the way, and that darn grief is still hanging over my head like a dark rain cloud, waiting for some attention.

How do I know this? That’s an easy one...during the few and far between times that I do slow down, which is rare, the pain comes back to me all at once, like a punch in the stomach. I feel as though I am back in April, 2010, and Bobby has just passed away, and I immediately revert back to the big pile of mess that I was back then.

I wish I had a realistic solution, but I don’t. I’m painfully aware that my solution is not realistic, and will never happen, but I wish widow-hood gave a person a free pass to take a year off from life. A year to not have to work, have a free babysitter and personal assistant to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of, and no obligation to anyone or anything, so that we could walk through the grief and deal with all the feelings that go with it completely. It’s so hard to deal with grief while trying to deal with everything else that life hands out. It gets pushed aside, like everything else that is good for me.

Is there a realistic solution to this? None that I can think of. Life has gotten in the way of my grieving. I’m not done grieving; I want to be done grieving; and I cannot think of anything that I can do about it.