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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A little Blue

A little Blue
Originally uploaded by Regina Holliday
Last week I was teaching pre-school students about seascape paintings. They had already done landscape work so they knew the basic terminology. I reminded them of the summer landscapes we did. I said, “In a summer landscape the sky is blue, and it is the top part of your picture and the bottom part of your picture is grass, and it is green. The grass and sky meet and form the horizon line at some point in the painting.” The kids chorused along with the words blue and green as I spoke. “Today we will do a seascape. The sky will be …” “Blue,” chorused the children’s sweet voices. I smiled upon them and continued, “and the sea will be …” They paused for a moment and shouted, “BLUE!” Then they burst into giggles, because even they knew you would not see the horizon line if everything were blue. We all laughed for a moment and then I began to explain there are many types of blue…

There are indeed many types of Blue.

This is the month of May. This is the month I was born. It is the month of Mother’s Day. It is the month for rummage sales. This is the month I met all of my health 2.0 friends who have been such a buoy in my life without Fred. It is the month I placed the first painting in the Medical Advocacy Series. It is the month Fred agreed to go to Hospice. This month means many things to me, and a few them have me feeling Blue.

I always looked forward to May. As a child, my neighbor Mrs. Johnson would cut a large bouquet of peonies as gift for my birthday. I so looked forward to those flowers. I looked forward to the cards that would come from my aunts and uncles. I anticipated the joy of celebrating my birthday. I remember the day itself was never quite as wonderful as the anticipation of the day. I loved looking forward to things. I still do. I am constantly involved in projects that I spend weeks or months visualizing and anticipating. Oh, I love them when they are complete, but the true joy is in the anticipation in the process. This is the breathless excitement of a child at Christmas, the anticipation of joy.

So with great confidence, I can say there is no worse grief than anticipatory grief. This is the grief that drags you down and runs like a 24-hour movie in your mind. This is the grief that makes the last days with your loved one not bittersweet, but anguished. It almost feels like you have turned into a computer with two programs running and those two programs are diametrically opposed to one another.

Why did I beg Fred’s doctors for his records? For the first time in my life, I desperately wanted to be wrong. From what little info I had gathered combined with my inter-net research, I knew Fred had only a few months to live. I vividly remember Fred’s hospitalist telling me I was not behaving typically as I beseeched him for a prognosis. I should be crying and in denial, as he assured me his wife would be if our situations were reversed. I read about the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I went through these stages at a soul crunching speed during Fred’s illness. I loved him so and cared for him daily and accepted in my heart of hearts he was dying. I felt schizophrenic in my love. My mother-in- law was so angry with me. How could I accept this? I remember posting the “Get Well, Soon” cards on Fred’s wall with such a sense of sorrow. I remember feeling like I was living a lie every time I accepted someone’s well wishes. I was splitting into two and I wore a mask to hide my sorrow.

Of all the types of blue I do think anticipatory grief is the hardest to cope with. This is grief that is very lonely. You are the crest of the wave and everyone else is so far below and it so very scary to know soon you will crash upon the shore.

Fortunately, most of life is not lived in a seascape. We are not often surrounded by Blue. I am now a year later in my grief. I live amongst a little bit of Blue. It is often lonely and I miss Fred. I miss our conversations most of all.

After art class, I was cleaning up the room. I looked down at all the children’s brushes. The brushes and table were covered with dashes of blue. It was beautiful in its way. I had to take a picture. Next week, we will move on to forest scenes and warm earth tones will abound. The blue tones will slowly be covered up in time, but here and there I will still see them. They will be there to remind me of living life surrounded by Blue.

1 comment:

  1. Regina! You are such a beautiful writer. Weaving your emotions, feelings and history into a wonderful story that will help comfort, support and educate others who are either experiencing anticipatory grief or know someone who is. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world. Diana Sebzda