Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two things I've heard repeatedly in the past nine and a half months that are completely fucking true:

1) There is a shared language and sensibility among those who have been through it, a shorthand, and it helps sustain you.

As I've written of before, TJ's was the 30th funeral I'd been to. (I have a large family and social circle and it stands to reason the more loved ones you have, the more you will lose. Also, because I learned from my mom how to respond in crisis, over the years others have asked me to accompany them to their loved ones' funerals and, of course, I did.)

I was familiar with grief and loss but had never experienced anything remotely as powerful or catastrophic as TJ's death, including the loss of my health when I was 24. Just as my life is organically divided before and after CFIDS, so it is with his death, only a million times more so.

And as I've written of dozens of times, I've been incredibly fortunate and moved by loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances and near-strangers who have reached out to me. I'm tenacious by nature, but there have been days I've thought the force and near-ceaselessness of the pain would break me. And it's then someone who has lived through it (and with it, as it takes different form in time but never goes away) says, as if on cue, "One day his death won't be the first thing you think of ten seconds after you wake up" or "It's the little things that'll catch you off-guard, like seeing his favorite foods in the grocery store" or "At this stage you feel like you're not going to get through it, but you will" or one my favorites, sent by a dear friend in all caps, "FUCK ANYONE WHO EXPECTS YOU TO GRIEVE ON THEIR SCHEDULE" and I feel loved and less alone and understood and, perversely, lucky. Lucky to have such insightful people in my life.

2) Within hours of receiving confirmation of TJ's death from the Chelan County Sherriff's Office, both my brother and one of my best friends, Tim, each of whom have been incredibly kind and empathetic--unfortunately, they'd each experienced horrific loss--warned me there are individuals who barely knew the dead but this won't stop them from seeking attention for knowing the dead, even if the connection was tangential, because they are strange and sad and they think this is the only thing for which they might receive attention and they will revel in it.

My brother and Tim were right.


Kelly-The Dame said...

Wow- baby doll- Sorry if you have to fend off the "poseurs" in grief. That's pretty fascinating. And well written- but I expect nothing less from you.

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Hey, Kelly! Great to hear from you. Yeah, the poseur thing is pretty bizarre. I'm glad my brother and Tim warned me and I've since had a bunch of others tell they experienced the same thing.

The mostly darkly humorous aspect, of course: hey, weirdos, if you want attention for knowing dead people, wait a bit b/c in about 20 year we're all going to know a lot more.

You, my dear, are among those who have made all of this easier and I'm forever grateful.


Antonio said...

What a well written piece. #1 - how blessed you are to have people in your life who, through small gems peppered with empathy, wisdom and understanding, have carried you through the darkest moments.

As far as #2 goes, yes, it's pretty sad and all you can do is pray that those people are brought to a better, less-pathetic existence.

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Luis (Antonio), you're 100% correct: I'm incredibly lucky the people in my life are, in fact, the people in my life. And while you're too modest to say so, I still remember the letter you sent me in the early weeks and the depths of your kindness and, of course, all your kindness since then.
Re the others, you phrased it really eloquently. As always, wishing you the best.

kim said...

as always: love your piece.

regarding #2: my sister and i were watching an old 20/20 about a woman who'd (allegedly) been killed by her husband. one of her "friends" who was interviewed reported that the last time she'd seen the woman she'd said: "if anything happens to me, tell them it was bobby. i'm not sure what he might do."

ok, if this fame-seeker was really her friend, she wouldn't sit by waiting to see what might happen. which led my sister and i to speculate how odd it would be if a mutual tangential friend of ours was interviewed after our death.

for the record, carla, i would not like to be referred to as "an introverted preacher's daughter." even if i am...

p.s. if anything happens to me, i'm pretty sure geoff didn't do it.

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Kim, you both totally get it and, also, crack me up. Per usual on both counts. Re the murder victim's "friend", I agree: what the hell is wrong w/ her?

As all of us know, death elicits the best and worst in people. I've been fortunate in that most have been deeply, staggeringly kind. Including everyone in this thread, obviously. The few who exist outside this parameter have been massive shitheels. I'll always remember the former and eventually forget the latter.