The Final Stage


Life goes on...

And on...and on...and on...


I know that many of you dropped by today - KNOWING WHAT TODAY IS - to check up on me. Hey, as I've said for the past 10 years...make it 11 now..."I'm hanging in".

After my "pity parties" of August, I went silent. You have wisely let a sleeping CAT lie...

A trio of passings/funerals in August (the first on my birthday and the others being a 28-year-old and a 99-year-old) drove home the already acknowledged point that everyone loses a loved one...everyone grieves...everyone is faced with finding their own path forward.

I opened this website with a reference to the "Stages of Grief"...and a barely concealed sarcastic reference about using this vehicle to reach the fifth and final stage...acceptance.

Upon further review...



Here's my self-assessment...

Somehow, I "missed out" on the first three. Maybe it was because Julie and I had gone through such a prolonged period of health issues...maybe those stages occurred in earlier years.

DENIAL...After approximately 20 major surgeries over the years, the Lupus flares, and cancer surgery the year before, there wasn't much room for disbelief. "Jobetta", with characteristic determination and strength, looked forward...to finding someone who would believe in her, someone who would offer treatment...hope for a cure. I, characteristically, looked to getting through the day...and what we needed to do tomorrow.

ANGER...I do remember Julie and I having a discussion in earlier years...me trying to assure her that she had NOT done something wrong in her life to deserve what she was experiencing. When Julie passed...I never got angry with Julie for "leaving me", never cursed God for "allowing Julie to die". There was one day, maybe a day or two after the funeral, that I felt an undetermined, unfocused rage building inside of me. Recognizing it, if not understanding it, I informed the family that I needed to get away for a while. After leaving the house and driving aimlessly, the anger dissipated...replaced by a numbness. Since that day, I've had my "pity party" moments, but nothing else. (Below, I will revisit the "numbness thing".)

BARGAINING...Again, probably had done that on earlier occasions years ago. (Most folks tend to "rediscover" God during the 9-1-1 events in their lives.) However, during the final crisis, before we knew it was terminal cancer, it was just a matter of trying to deal with the latest health setback. When the surgeon delivered the terminal diagnosis...what was there to bargain? (Yes, during that final week, I prayed a lot...asking God to give Julie strength, to ease her pain...but never with any promises of quid pro quo.)

One of the things that has bothered me during the past two months is the memory that Julie and I never talked about the "final verdict". (The only "discussion" was when I first saw Julie in her hospital room after she left recovery. When I walked in and after a few words of affection, Julie looked up at me and asked "Did Doctor Clutts tell you my news?" All I could say was "Yes." End of discussion...

Maybe that's natural, but it makes me wonder. Maybe Julie was in denial...that, indeed, this was the end. As I've said before, Julie - based on so many victories over such long odds in the past - just believed...KNEW...that she would win again. Hey...she had me convinced! (Julie...especially after winning yet another round with the Grim Reaper...had often joked over the years that she was never going to die! Perhaps it was telling that she never used that phrase during that final month...)

Anyway, during those final few weeks, as I was focusing on Julie's daily needs and as she was watching (or not watching) TV...I just keep wondering. What was she thinking? Was she thinking?

Yeah, guess it's my final guilt trip... Should I have said something? Would it have made it better? Would it have made it worse? Of course, I'll never know. All I know is that I never said "Goodbye" until she was gone...

That brings me to the last two "Stages of Grief"...

DEPRESSION...Okay, you got me there! Wouldn't try to deny being depressed over Julie's passing...Julie's absence. When you have probably suffered from chronic depression for most of your adult life, such an event would tend to accentuate the negative. I tried "meds"...Julie left me a various assortment of antidepressants. They didn't work...

ACCEPTANCE...See "depression"! That same condition would probably preclude any feelings of "peace".

So, based upon my year-long research involving 24/7 observation of a single subject, I'm announcing a new "stage of grief" today...one that replaces the "depression & acceptance" stages of Dr. Kübler-Ross. It is MY final stage...the one that I have reached...RESIGNATION, call it "surrender", if you will.

If "acceptance" requires a "peaceful easy feeling", then it ain't ever happenin' for me...and millions of others.

A short digression...

Waaaaaay too focused on music of late...especially the Eagles. After I typed the phrase above, I thought...THAT sounds familiar. Yep...nothing but Eagles and their "Peaceful Easy Feeling". Oh, well...no "sign" there...just one of an accumulation of phrases that clutter the attic over the years.

Anyway...

My "resignation/surrender" phase is much more practical...and attainable. (Psychiatrists probably wouldn't like it...would cut way down on billable hours!) But, here goes...

RESIGNATION:


Hey, what kind of party did you expect on this anniversary...PITY FULL!


Okay, guess I managed to find ANGER after all...so, that tells me it's time take a break.

Determined to wallow in glorious self-pity today, think I'll stop now and watch the St. Louis Rams play the Dallas Cowboys. If you happen to be a Rams' fan...talk about depressing! I've got a (Joe) six-pack of "meds" in the fridge along with an unhealthy supply of salted treats. I'll probably return this evening and add a few morbid comments to conclude the occasion. I'm leaning toward "Dead Man Walking" and a song from the new album by John Mellencamp (the Little Pink Houses singer.)

Feel free NOT to join me...