The Fault In My Dreams

Fault lines

The “faults” that surround me.

The room is white and sparsely furnished. I don’t recognize it but it doesn’t seem strange or inhospitable. I get the sense that I am in this room with everyone I know.  It is only a sense though because as a look around I can’t focus on anyone in particular, people appear and disappear from my periphery in wisps like ghosts. I finally focus on someone I know, it is the one person I miss the most and want to be with. It’s Gus! I see the back of him, his hair is soft, straight and sways a little as walks.  He seems at ease but busy weaving through the room as though it is his job to take care of every body. I call to him and as he turns to look at me the earth begins to shake and I know that it is an earthquake.  We take cover in separate spaces and while I can see he is as safe as am I, a sense of panic overcomes me.  I feel an urgency because I realize that Gus is still sick and I don’t know how to cure him.  The earth stops shaking and as I reach out towards him I snap awake, breathless. I am disappointed and upset, he was inches away from me and yet I couldn’t reach him. I didn’t get a chance to hold him in my arms and they ache for him.

I read on-line that dreaming of an earthquake highlights your fears and sense of helplessness. It signifies a big shake up in your life (you think?). The on-line site asks “Is there something in your life you feel at fault for?” UM…YES!  I let Gus die!  My brain knows that it was not within my power to save him and that my only job was to love him BUT my ego just can’t seem to let go of the sense of responsibility.  Did I do something to cause the cancer? Did I fail to recognize it soon enough to make a difference? Did I fail to be more vigilant about what he ate and drank thereby allowing him to become septic unnecessarily? The dream stayed with me that day, it made me sad and anxious.  I asked the universe for a sign; for permission to bury the feeling of guilt that overtakes me every so often like a tectonic shift and rattles me to the core.

All day I tried to focus on other things, my work, the plans for the weekend ahead but my mind kept drifting back to the dream.  After work, I vacillated between going to my spin class or walking up and down the one and half mile road that rises nearly five hundred feet to what is known as the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook near our house. I chose the road because even though it was hot and windy, I needed to feel my feet firmly beneath me, to take one emotional step forward and then another.  I had gone up and down twice lost in my music when I found myself walking behind two boys and girl from a local Catholic School’s track team (according to their t-shirts).  I normally would have just walked past them but something made me look at the back of one of the boy’s head.  He was a typical boy, long, lanky, talking animatedly with his friends.  He appeared to be about 13, Gus’s age today had he lived.  Aside from his age, nothing else would have struck me as “Gus-like” except for one glaring similarity – his bright blue hearing-aides.

I promise that part behind the ear is bright blue - like the young boy's.

I promise that part behind the ear is bright blue like that boy’s.

Thank you world for giving me this sign.  Was it enough for my ego to completely let go of the inappropriate sense of guilt? Likely not – but I am impressed with the immediate response to my emotional need. Through my tears (and two more times up and down the hill) I managed to “Smile” a little.

Too much time on my hands….

11150156_10204657625944707_3162760681542975889_nMy husband recently made an observation that I found profound and worthy of spurring a change to this site. He objected to my description of the many things we do (post Gus) as “diversions or distractions”.  He flat-out said “I don’t like those words, I prefer to say that we are keeping busy”.  He is right (but nobody tell him please), there is no real way to distract or divert ourselves away from Gus’ loss.

We had Gus ten years after our youngest son for a reason; as a couple we’d only ever known the “busy”-ness of parenting having had our first two when we were in our early (very early) twenties.  We anticipated that as “parenting” our older children was slowly reduced to moments of advice and spectator support, we’d need another child or two to fill up our time, command our attention, motivate us to work and plan for the future. When Gus was diagnosed with cancer at two and a second child never materialized, we focused on being grateful for just the one, our Gus.

Time seems to be in short supply for parents of school aged children but when Gus was abruptly gone, time appeared to multiply like Gremlins.  Suddenly, we had time to read, travel, exercise, dine, sleep, binge watch TV, walk, try new things or nothing at all. All this time however seems to come at a hefty price and we always experience it only in terms of what we’ve lost.  “We would have never done this if Gus was still here” (Our Camino) or “Gus would have loved this trip” (cruises through the Panama Canal and up and down the coast with his cousins).

I titled my blog “The Upside(s) of Grief, Diversion, Distractions & Motivations after a great loss” to highlight that activity and joy after loss is a choice; a choice between living with grief or living through grief.  The only mistake I made was thinking that the time we’d be occupying could be a distraction, diversion or even a motivation.  It is not, it just time that we choose to fill with activity. “We” find meaning in this activity because it bring us closer together as a family, as a couple and inspires us individually.  For this reason I’ve made a slight change in the title of my blog – it is still “The Upside(s) of Grief” with what we truly are doing – “keeping busy after a great loss”.  I hope you don’t mind….