My writing hasn't been that frequent lately. Partly due to the Blogger brown-outs, but mostly due to being distracted by other things, and simply busy. It's a good sign if I go shopping, if I want new things and feel good about getting them, because unlike most women, I don't enjoy shopping for clothes and shoes and stuff like that. It takes energy and patience to go try everything on, so the mood has to strike me, and then I'll go. That's why the big purchases all at once.
September and October, thought bringing joy in their own right, did have a sneaky non-joy. I noticed that when I started to feel a familiar pain in my chest a few weeks ago. I recognized the signs of a broken heart. The muscles in the front of my chest have been tight and I get winded walking up the hill to my building. But I know what it is: Grief. Grief taking its own sweet time to work its way out of my system.
The first time I felt this was when my dear friend Maria died, May of 2000. That autumn, I became increasingly winded, and felt sharp pains right in the front of my chest. It didn't help that what had killed Maria was a heart attack. In March, I ended up with a sickleave because the tightness and pain had become regular. March was Maria's birthday month and we had always celebrated together. The following March I was also out on sickleave but not as long as the first (which was 6 weeks). The third March after Maria died, I was sick again for a week, but I finally realized what was happening, and the March after that, I stayed well and knew I was past the worst of it.
Now it's September/October that's getting to me. My grandparents' birthday months. Yoga stretches are helping to unwind the tightened chest muscles, and awareness of what's happening also helps.
It still pisses me off, this system of dying. Sometimes the statement that the pain you feel is equal to the love you had gives some comfort, but not always. Not right now. I don't like this aspect of getting older: The older I get, the more dead people I know. I don't find it love-like at all to have so many loved ones to count as gone.
Darkness and light tumbling head over heels with each other. Life itself is good; the lit "Vacancy" sign in my heart not so much. Such a self-contradiction this is! I'm looking forward to my trip to California, I'm shopping partly in preparation for that, and partly because I've got some nice parties to go to between now and then. I'm probably shopping and looking forward simply because I can and want to.
But as England Dan and John Ford Coley sing: What can I do with this broken heart? If the past is anything to go by, someone will see the Vacancy sign and move in. I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready.
UPDATE: Our local newspaper ran several articles today about handling life crises. One interviewee said that grief isn't something you get over; it's something you learn to live with. I needed that reminder.