Reaching Out

The best relief from my own grief comes when I reach out to help someone else in their troubles. But one thing I still find impossibly hard is to reach out for help when I’m the one suffering.

Last week, driving back from the airport after saying goodbye to the one I love most in this world, I had to pull off the road and stop the car several times, unable to see through my tears. Finally arriving home, I howled in the driveway, begging, pleading, praying, …sobbing into my dog’s fur. I tried to summon my courage, strength, the spirits of my dead father and daughter. I even called on god. But the aching grew worse.

“Love the grief. Learn to live with the pain,” and “You are not alone, you can do this,” I went through all my mantras aloud. I desperately wanted to go back in time, to the night before, when we’d clinked our glasses of whiskey. “To you and your adventure,” I’d said cheerfully, looking more at the ice swimming in the whiskey than at the eyes of the one I love. Now there would be no eyes to watch, no celebrating, no more late nights toasting to the future.

Empty-nest-syndrome. A hole in my heart almost as big as when my daughter died. No need to bother anyone else about this, I told myself. Don’t be a burden, don’t be a wimp. It was late enough I could simply take a pill and go to sleep. And I thought how sad it was, having no one to announce to, “I’m going to bed.” And that started the tears and howling all over again until I thought of someone who might understand. Gasping for breath, I phoned her.

After sputtering out my story I said, “I’m okay, I just needed someone to say goodnight to.” That was pretty much true. So every day since, I’ve been phoning family and friends. Good morning. Goodnight. And sometimes I don’t know anymore if I’m reaching out to help or be helped. But maybe it’s all the same in the end.

 

What does reaching out mean to you?

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5 thoughts on “Reaching Out

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Oh Robin, this hurts in a way I can only imagine. Ouch, ouch, ouch. And then you keep going because what else is there to do? I’d feel the same if my sons were so far away and such warriors. Sending you lots of love.

    Deafness makes it harder to pick up the phone and casually call someone even if they need me to call. I demand something from the person I’m talking with because they have to speak up, speak slowly, etc. Text messages don’t quite do it, but sometimes I’m reduced to that. I’m grateful to do better in person and with Skype–and I’m grateful that much of the work I do for Hospicare can be done in silence.

    Reply
  2. gayle gray

    As always, tears and relief when I read your stories and know I am not alone in my grief.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      You are definitely not alone, Gayle. There are so many of us out there. There ought to be a pin or scarf to identify us because we are right under each others’ noses. Right next door, in the same book club. The person you pass everyday walking her dog on your street. One of the ones huffing and puffing next to you in the gym. There ought to be a regular Grievers’ Night at Wegmans when they dim the lights and put on sweet music and everyone who believes she is alone in her grief can shop then in good company. Thanks for “being with me” today.

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