Monthly Archives: April 2015

Statute of Lamentations

When Wesley first passed away I cried incessantly. I cried in my sleep, awaking from fitful dreams to discover that my pillow was damp and clammy against my face. I would close my eyes, willing myself to sleep again and often failing. I cried until I had no tears left and was reduced to the weeping version of dry heaving; the act of crying with no tears produced because I had literally lived up to the saying of “all cried out.” A friend told me in those early days that I would never truly stop crying. I’d never end my mourning period and despite the feeling of things being better; they would never be all better again. The curtain of certitude and safety had been irrevocably pulled back and could not be hung up in the same way again. But as the days number and seasons change again and again I do find my grief and ways of processing it changed and different. My tears are less frequent and I can better predict the triggers that will start the ocular leaking process; often I feel like I’m in control in a life that can feel chaotic.

I feel that I should have reached my statute of lamentation. After this indiscriminate amount of time the widow’s grief shall cease and desist per the order of life or time or whatever. But that is not the case. The sucker punch is still out there and hits me when my dukes are lowered and I’m looking the other way.

Today I offhandedly mentioned to our babysitter that Wesley would have used the excuse of an upcoming black tie wedding in Manhattan to finally buy the Brooks Brothers tuxedo he always toyed with getting for himself. I would have come home one afternoon to the mysterious brown box on the front steps or he would have “happened” to frequent a Brooks Brothers store in his trial travels and have walked in the house, garment bag slung over his shoulder saying, “I really think I’ll use this, Katherine.” Wesley often asked forgiveness, not permission with me and this would have been another such time. He would have loved us going to New York as a family, showing Julia the skyscrapers and statues and meticulously researching Broadway shows and planning our family adventure. He would have delighted as Julia takes her first airplane flight home on this trip and watching her face which I’m sure will be a mixture of delight and terror as we take off, our bodies separating from the Earth.I animatedly told my sitter this and we laughed together sitting on my couch.

After my babysitter left I felt…off. Just emotionally akimbo and kind of sick to my stomach. I took my temperature worrying that I had a fever, but was fine. I chalked it up to a long day at my office and after getting Julia settled with a snack decided to take a bath, hoping the warm water would ease whatever weirdness I had going on. I sank into the water and immediately and quite surprisingly started crying; or rather sobbing. Ragged and chest heaving I buried my face into my knees and cried hard. It shocked me. Honestly my first thought was, “What the heck am I crying over?” I puzzled and thought as tears splashed the water around me because  nothing glaringly stood out from the everydayness of my Thursday afternoon. It took me a while to realize that I was crying over the fact that I had so vividly imagined the family vacation we were going on. My family. Wesley, Julia and me with our hands clasped as we walked through Central Park stopping to look at the Alice in Wonderland statue, Wesley in a tuxedo and me in my long blue gown dancing at the wedding reception at the Central Park Boathouse and laughing about how glad we were that we would NEVER have to date again, Julia watching the clouds surround the plane as we flew home and the way Wesley would in his unique way look at me and simultaneously smile and wink at our daughter’s joy. I imagined it so clearly and believed it and in that fanciful daydream it was truth. It was real. My curtain was hung again straight and I was certain in my life. But in a moment, like a bubble in the bath, that illusion burst.

There will be no tuxedo delivered to my home and Julia will walk through Central Park with one small hand swinging free by her side as I clasp the other firmly in mine. I will again answer her question about if we will see Daddy again when we fly in the sky because he lives in the Heavenly clouds with God, doesn’t he?

I constantly tell others that my grief has no time limit but I think that I had stopped believing that myself. I thought that I was starting to become a widow who had overcome her broken heart and I felt strong, uneasy but strong. But I think the statute of my lamentation might not be quite as close to the ending time as I thought it was. And I’m comforted and at peace with it. My heart feels less sore and tight, my stomach less knotted and sick now that I’m at least momentarily not fighting against myself and my self imposed time limits and expectations of moving on. To dream of what could have been and cry over the loss of my family of three does not negate the life and altered family I have now. I can live in both places and cry as I travel from one place to another. There is no shame in the traveler’s tears as they are tears of pure unending love.

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Peaches and Dream

Midtown_Atlanta_SkylineWhen I was a child I often traveled to Atlanta with my family to go clothing shopping. The exotic stores of Lord and Taylor and fashion forward styles were far superior in my mind to the offerings at Tallahassee department stores. I could not dare wear the same Guess jeans and Esprit that my classmates purchased at Gayfers and Burdines. I would look out of the window of my family Suburban at the high rise apartments and beautiful homes and think, “I’m going to live here when I’m an adult” I vividly imagined myself dining in restaurants with names I could not pronounce and working in the bustling skyscrapers where the fog settled beneath my office window. I grew and yearly imagined myself living in Buckhead but the feeling of homebody-ness tethered me to Tallahassee for my college years and early 20’s. I met Wesley who lived 900 miles away from Tallahassee and eventually we knew we needed to live closer to one another so we looked at big cities and Atlanta was my first choice! Wesley needed some convincing as I think he was hoping for a DC or other Northern city to win the habitation lottery but he got a job and I quickly joined him in Atlanta in 2002.

We lived and loved and grew in the bustling Atlanta metropolis. We joined the High Museum of Art and surrounded ourselves with culture, we ate at tiny restaurants surrounded by friends from Emory Law School loudly arguing the finer points of a law case that Wesley and his classmates were studying, we shopped on weekends looking for the perfect bowl or Brooks Brothers shirt or just walking around looking for the items that will fill our mantelpiece in our hip and chic townhouse. I even worked for a time in an office where fog settled below my office window; it was truly the child’s dream realized and I was here alongside the man to whom I had pledged my life. I was not alone in my Peachtree adventures, I had a companion to see this place with me; our hands excitedly clasped together.

Atlanta was where Wesley and I were fully us and where we changed and grew and loved life. We had our first real jobs, Wesley went to Law school, were married, had a baby and ultimately made the hard decision to leave the bright lights to settle closer to my home in order for Julia to grow up alongside family and cousins. But Atlanta for us was truly the place we went from two separate and distinct entities to a joined life, we became “The Clines” here.

I have not been to Atlanta much since Wesley died. Once with my family for an overnight trip in July 2013 but I was still so in shock over the changes in my life that I recall how I wanted to flee as quickly as I could from places familiar but different to me now. I’m was in Atlanta this week for work and felt strangely out of place and discombobulated on this trip, but I’m more able to process them than I was then. This week it seemed every place I passed had a memory or a trigger that made my heart long for yesterday. I found myself recalling the most mundane and seemingly trivial things as I drove through the streets whose names were familiar. Remembering driving on I-75 to get to countless Junior League of Atlanta meetings, sitting in the Nordstrom Cafe with an infant Julia for hours just to get out of the house, date nights at JCT Kitchen and other Atlanta restaurants. It seemed that every turn my car made these past few days steered me toward memories both good and bittersweet. I found myself longing for my old life; my life that now seems so carefree and bucolic and much like the life of that young girl daydreaming from the window of her parent’s car. Many times over the past few days I fought back tears as I desperately desired to go to my old home and my Atlanta life that seemed complete but knew that I do not belong there any more.

My life is not in Atlanta and I found that I unwittingly had avoided the Peach State for two years because I feared that juxtaposition of two lives that are so different now. I’m no longer that young woman whose life is ordered and predictable, but I’m finding an uneasy peace in that. My life is now centered around my child and soccer games and homework folders and perhaps geography and circumstance does not play as large a role in that as it seemed but just the natural progression of maturation. I happily returned home to my life here, altered as it may be, because this is where I belong. I’m home.

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