Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Right Place At The Wrong Age

As I thought about returning to my new and improved bereavement group something very odd happened. I noticed I'm sort of kind of looking forward to it.

It's not the kind of eagerness I feel when my little granddaughter Skylar is on her way over or when I open the freezer and realize "Wow. I forgot I bought vanilla fudge ice-cream!"

But, something safe and close to belonging is waiting for me there and even my resilient self can't deny that I'm needy for others who can genuinely know what I'm going through. Not to be overly dramatic, they know my pain. They're experiencing so much of the same.

Afternoon groups attract the elderly. I knew that. Somehow, I wasn't prepared for my fellow group members to be 150 years old. Still, as I said in my last post we're all the same age in grieving years.

Sitting among women and men who could easily be my parents made me uneasy in a situation where it's not the most comfortable to begin with. I stood out. I have one (okay, one and a half) chins, not seven. For the first fifteen minutes waiting for Linda, the leader to come into the room and begin the group I talked to myself:

1. "What am I doing here? It's like I got on a bus to Atlantic City by
mistake."

2. "Why do these people need a bereavement group? What did they expect,
that their spouse would live forever?"

3. "At least I'm young for something."

4. "If Jimmy is watching he's shaking his head and trying to send me a signal
to get out of here fast."

5. "If I had died Jimmy wouldn't be caught dead here."

6. "Yeah, caught dead...very funny. I'm never going to believe he's gone."

7. "Six months. How could it be six months? And, I'm still stuck in
denial."

8. I hate these stupid stages. Denial, anger - sounds like a textbook. No
body knows anything."

9. "Oh, God...I think I'm going to cry - nothing even started yet...those
stupid tissue boxes around the room..."

10. "This is going to be horrible."

11. "All of a sudden I'm antisocial. That lady smiled at me. I'm not even
sure I smiled back."

12. "Who cares?"

13. "They're all talking to each other. This seat is good. I don't have to
deal with them."

14. "I should spit out my gum. Jackie says I chew like a cow."

15. "Two men. Why are men alone so pathetic? But, they both look neat and
clean and the men in the other group did too."

16. "Why am I surprised? Maybe, their wives were sick for a long time. They
got used to fending for themselves."

17. "I guess, without me Jimmy would go to the cleaners, he'd do his laundry.
Then he'd realize it's no big deal. He'd see I didn't take such good care
of him. Yes, I did. I did. I could have been more nuturing..."

18. "When he got pissy I just didn't want to please him. That's normal. It
is."

19. "This is good. Old men. They're well into their seventies. No chance at
all they'll misinterpet a friendly smile. The other group was tricky
like that. Especially the one with the beard. The dork. Oh, God. Kill me
now."

20. "That lady is kind of shakey. No one really looks too good here."

21. "Well, I guess it didn't matter what I wore."

Linda appeared to cut off my thoughts. The group began. One woman's husband was 90 when he died. She seemed shocked. I repressed a laugh. Was it a nervous laugh or a mean laugh? I'm not sure. Probably a little bit of both.

They were married over 60 years, longer than I'm alive. I hear her now. She expected him to always be there, live forever.

Damn. I'm becoming so empathetic. What's happening to me?