May 21, 2001

'Thank You' Seems Inadequate...

The numbness is beginning to wear off.

Or maybe I just have more time to think.. or more time to fill.

Grief feels very much like depression; or perhaps it's the other way around. The difference is, grief is more focused. The sadness relates to one aspect (a large one, but still only one aspect) of my life rather than the entire universe, as it is when I'm clinically depressed. I'm short of energy and patience, but not as severely as when I'm depressed.

I'm starting to get the flashbacks.. occasional thoughts or memories that attack without warning. I know it's part of the process so I'm trying to take it in stride.

People are telling me not to keep things inside; I know they're right but I know no other way to do this. I admit I'm a control freak, and I'm controlling the amount of grief I'm allowing myself to feel. That's an easier task now than it was before my father died; then each wave of bad news would come abruptly, and by the end I was fighting off nausea and feeling too shaky to drive safely. For the first few days after his death I shut down emotion as much as I could; a wall can be a good thing when used in moderation. At the least, it allowed me to function.

Perhaps it wasn't so much a wall as a semi-permeable membrane; it allowed emotion in but not out. I did take much comfort in the support and affection of friends and family. Hubby and the kids (well, mostly Hubby) did more around the house and kept the criticism to a minimum; it meant the world to me that two of my cousins travelled to Montreal for the funeral - one from New York and one from Calgary; I appreciated the message that my father's doctor left on my answering machine, expressing condolences and saying that she was glad to have known him.

Friends, online and off (and some who qualify as both) have been a tremendous help. If you're reading this.. yes, I mean you!

Most of all, I'm in awe of the response from Stephanie (my friend in upstate NY). She hadn't met my father in person but knew him only through me. Still, she felt moved to do something, and when she offered to plant a perennial in his honour, I thought that was lovely.

Well, "a perennial" turned into a garden.

This is an excerpt from her email (used with permission):

I decided on a peony for the side yard. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, but the flowers have a lovely fragrance, as well. In front of the house, I planted bleeding hearts because they will bear witness to how much your father loved and was loved by others. Finally, I chose a rhododendron because the tag described it as being "sturdy and dependable", which also happens to be my impression of your father.

Peony   Bleeding Hearts


She also scanned the above photos taken soon after planting, and plans to take more as the blooms progress.

I've tried but I can't find the words to express how I feel about this. It's probably the most loving gesture I have ever received from a friend.

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