Travels with Myself
A Journal of Discovery and Transition
Doug Jordan, Author
Even though we’re not quite out of the pseudo-apocalyptic fear period, one can see a light that looks like freedom. And I’m not talking about transport trucks, just a small beacon pointing the way to a time of more choice, more options, and hopefully, more tolerance – more like the ‘olden times’ normal.
I can return to The Philippines and bring my asawa back to Canada. I should be happy.
It’s amazing how we put off doing what we know we must, somehow hoping to buy time and maybe a miracle. It’s certain we have to do our taxes. (Though maybe not for everyone – I’ve heard of people who avoided filing tax returns for years, maybe even know some of them, and I’m pretty sure it’s not because they have no taxable income.) It seems just as certain we have to accept our own demise too (though maybe those serial avoiders also know something about certain death the rest of us don’t).
The problem of death for the mourner is the pain of loss. It is not the loss of the past – the past is already past, and we still have our memories and photographs. The grief of loss is for the loss of future experience of the loved one – the promise of the future is that we can live again the present we take for granted. But with death, we have no more presents, we can no longer enjoy the company of the lost loved one.
I set down in the previous chapters some of the Lessons Learned of the Philippines. But what have I learned about myself? And have I been able to convey some of what I have learned to my readers? Indeed, what hubris for me to think they would want to know what I had learned.
[two things that have stayed with me] : ‘we never stop grieving, it just gets quieter.’ And, ‘[he] doesn’t believe in closure’. If there’s new information that explain things you didn’t understand before, that helps; but there is no closure. It’s not like closing the lid of a box, or a coffin.
It may seem odd to think of anger as a sign of returning to mental health, and it wasn’t obvious to me at the time either, but instead of the nihilism of anger that I had been experiencing I was seeing something different. The anger was no longer directed at blaming and revenge, it was more generalized. I’m sure I offended some of my friends during this period, and for that I must apologize. I just hope they can see that this was part of my healing process.
After that dream, and all through that awful summer of Emily yo-yo-ing me I had considered hanging myself more than a few times from various staircases, but now, while visiting Marlene, I thought the branch of the tree reaching over her headstone would do nicely. I wondered where I had put my rope.
And I already ‘knew’ about Grief, Empathy and Aging. But I didn’t really ‘know’. You cannot know these things until you have actually experienced the depth of feeling these can demand of you. But my year in the Fog brought whole new lessons.
The fog of grief was real enough: I lost concentration, I had no plans, I was forgetful. I couldn’t sleep. I knew there were things I needed to do to start putting my life back together, but not today, maybe tomorrow. I went to grief counseling; I read many books about grief. I finally read The Emperor of all Maladies. All I wanted to do was escape all this grieving stuff.
And there she was.