Tag Archives: grief

Decisions

It’s been quite a while since I last reached out to the great big world out there. It was more a conscious decision than a spontaneous act, I felt frozen in my grief and short for words that somehow couldn’t find their way to come out. I gave up, everything seemed pointless, as if my dad had taken all the colors out of my life and carried them away as he left the Earth behind. I suddenly found myself on a no man’s land, beaten up by dad’s vicious and extremely complicated disease that eventually reduced me to almost nobody and nothing. No happiness, no smiles… no self-esteem, no friends in the hard days of grief… no family of my own, no job, no creativity… Then I suddenly realized that the mortal blow of cancer didn’t have just one victim. I became its true collateral damage, as I continued to live a negation of life. Yes, you can be just technically alive even when not on life support. Cancer in some way killed me as well, even though I wasn’t the one diagnosed with the illness. I somehow stopped living and shut myself up and out of everything, blogging included.

Did this help? No, not at all. I foolishly opted for “peace of mind”, trying to believe that this will help me heal, that something else will happen on its own and take my life on a different, better course. Nothing happened. Nothing good. As if the Heaven decided that it’s high time for me to learn the hardest way all those lessons I missed as I grew up. As if time came to pay the dearest price for every mistake I made as I walked down the path of my life.

My dad has been “missing” or a whole year and a bit more now, but I’m somehow still waiting for him to come back. It didn’t seem real, it seemed that he fell asleep the way he had done thousands and thousands of times before that horrible day, and it still seems that he just has to wake up somewhere out there and come back. I have a feeling that it will stay forever that way for as long as I’ll live, no matter how long that can be. There were many occasions on which I desired to join him, as staying alive feels painful and pointless. Then I realized again that letting go would mean another victory of cancer as well, which in turn if my life is pointless is totally pointless on its own. I was given this life… why, how and where I don’t know, but I know that it should fulfill some purpose. I want at least somebody to remember me by good when I pass away. I need an opportunity that can help me give my days some meaning. I don’t want to let my knowledge go completely down the drain as something unnecessary and useless, I put way too much effort into it to let this happen. However, I can’t do this entirely on my own. As every human being, I need people to keep me company, to listen to me, to give me some feedback, push me further when I get stuck, remind me that there is some sense in what I do. If as it seems I can’t earn an opportunity to work out there in my real life using the languages I studied, I can at least make myself blog. It depends entirely on me, nobody can take that away from me for as long as I have electricity, internet connection and some device to type from. In the end, the only thing I overdo every single day is thinking, it just has to be converted to writing.

I decided to try to publish whatever I manage to put together on Tuesdays and Thursdays and perhaps a photo every Sunday. It won’t be easy to stick with this decision, but even just a line or two can make the difference on harder, sad or busier days. I hope that someone out there will be willing to bear with me and give me from time to time a friendly word of support as I struggle to get back on some kind of track.

I am not who I used to be nor what I used to be, I miss that person who existed until a year ago very much. But you know what, this person who writes these lines today might well be just a smaller and worse version of the girl who isn’t here any more, yet she still has something interesting to say and show to the world, I’m sure about that.

Be well people… and I can only hope that with time I’ll manage to earn interest, trust and friendly words of support.

Till tomorrow then!

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Daddy, your peaches blossomed again

peach tree blossoms
peach tree blossoms

Many things happened since I could last come actively here. I did try to blog from the phone, but that proved very challenging due to troubles with touch screen displacing and erasing things I wrote. It somehow didn’t seem meant to be, me and the WordPress. My mom was severely bitten by probably some spiders and developed a horrific reaction, we had a totally crazy tour of the clinics which would make a great story by itself. Now, almost 4 weeks later her leg seems a bit better, but it will obviously take a very long time to heal completely. My dog got bitten by two very mean dogs, the second time this year. My mom overdid with Easter preparations, but she wanted to do it as if dad were still here. It was somehow solemnly good, yummy and special, yet extremely sad. And on the top of it, tired like hell, I managed to cover half of the road to my dad’s garden by bus. Yep, I actually ENTERED the out of the city bus somehow. I don’t think I would have dared if my uncle who was spending Easter in the area didn’t mention that he would go half the way towards the city to by some fertilizers and that we could get of the bus and cut the road much shorter by his car. Having that as a chance to “escape” in case I panicked, I agreed – under sedation, there is no question about it. Every time I get there, my mind badly needs to pull my dad out of somewhere – out of his little wooden house, garden, from behind the trees… I watch and watch, but he’s nowhere to be found. Getting on the bus was hard also because my heart sinks when I see those little half broken buses, because in the last years my dad gave his best to use exclusively them to get to the garden and not the car in order to save. It was hard and strenuous, it is even for a much younger person, and I was nowhere to be found to help. And he had cancer, who knows for how long in these last years previous to the diagnose. Now I’m punished, he’s nowhere to be found. I constantly live in pain and have nightmares. I wouldn’t ask for any sort of help from him, just for his mere presence, to see him glad that I’m in the garden. That won’t happen, ever again, I’m punished for life. It’s been 7 months, and now I know – it will never stop hurting, as long as I live. It will just take many faces, that bundle of grief, some days will be a bit better, some much worse, but I will never be the person I was even just last July. We all change I know, even when nothing so extremely bad happens and we can never be who we used to be before, but my change is drastic. It affected so many areas of my life that I feel that I literally became somebody else, that I don’t belong to any of the places or among the people I once knew. I keep going in circles in the dark, searching for an answer who I am today and where and how to go from here. I so desperately want to understand, as if I could do something nobody alive ever managed to do – understand death.

There are many hurdles along this road and one of them is that nobody in my immediate surroundings want to talk about the dad or even just mention him. They feel that it is a wrong thing to do and that “distracting” me and my mom completely will help. Well, it doesn’t. It takes just one look in the mirror to remember, I am the infallible living proof that he existed. I want to talk, talking about him helps, it is all the part of the grieving process. Maybe some people feel better if they pretend nothing happened, keep it all inside and just go on minding their business when someone dies, but that’s not me. I need to verbalize emotions, to bring back old times, to remember things he said and did. People resist, I still say what is on my mind. Maybe they mean well after all, but they just don’t know how to talk about this kind of things. I know that they want an affirmative answer when they ask how I’m doing, but I’m not ok. Not even close. It’s all problems and pain. Saying that I’m ok won’t change that, but that’s all people accept to hear.

My aunt and uncle preferred to focus on the digital disaster part of the disastrous story, and as I explained that everything failed on me – computer, printer, scanner, phone charger etc. they remembered that they have an old laptop nobody uses which should still be in working state.

So we got this old, long asleep device going again, which caused many mixed emotions. I got used to not having a computer any more, so it both made me happy and sad somehow. It’s very old and half broken, but still it’s one of the nicest gestures towards me in months. I should have been happy when I got it going because that meant that I could blog again among other things and I accumulated ideas to talk about over time, but I was just blocked. Almost didn’t feel like coming back. Didn’t know what to say. If anybody would be interested. Also so much happens that I never have time for myself to properly concentrate on verbalizing thoughts. Then I came here and let the words flow, that was the best I could do. Also, I’m still getting used to this laptop, I can’t explain it, but things don’t seem the same from here, everything feels awkward, typing included. It has quite a bad screen, colors are very unreal which is not photo-friendly thing at all, but I still hung up a picture. Feels like having some form of color and contrast blindness, but who knows, maybe somebody out there will like it. It’s one of my dad’s peaches, I cried when I saw the bloom. He would love it. I wish I could know if he can see it.

Dad, they blossomed again, see how beautiful they are. It’s spring again, nature goes on as usual. Everything’s as it used to be, everything’s there where you left it, we just can’t find you… and we miss you so much, we would have so much to tell you. I hope you’re well, I wish I could just know you are. Love, Tanja

There is time

I wish somebody told me long ago that there wasn’t and isn’t time to waste in this life. I know that all the people I was surrounded by meant the best for me and wanted to protect me, creating the illusion that I have “whole life” in front of me, that if I fail or miss an opportunity I’ll make up for it tomorrow, or next week, month or even a year. I believed in that illusion and “took it easy”, procrastinated, searched and researched mainly the things I liked and that appealed to me, without considering if they had any true practical application in this world. When panic disorder did its best to halt me in every possible way, so many times I retreated in order to suffer less, exchanging freedom for tiny insignificant moments of instant relief. I thought that I was still young and had time to recover to a certain extent and do something more in life.

There is time, I repeated over and over again, till my world tumbled down full force onto my obviously pretty immature head last September when my dad died. I started realizing how many life trains I missed and how many important skills I didn’t learn, foolishly assuming that “dad would do that” or that some things would somehow resolve on their own with time. I subconsciously trusted that opportunities would find me when I need them, and that I wouldn’t have to go searching for them instead. I stopped counting mistakes as their astonishing number fills my soul with tremendous pain.

There wasn’t time, I just didn’t realize it. Now that I do realize it, it completely elapsed. It’s too late. I should have chosen a completely different profession and focused on making some living and something of my life. I should have searched better for a soulmate and created some sort of home of my own on my own or with somebody else. I should have led a better fight against my demons and at least accomplished last spring what I can do today. I should have continued driving after I got the licence almost 15 years ago. What did I do instead? I closed myself in my room, waiting most of the time for panic disorder to pass. Unfortunately, it’s not a virus and it doesn’t last 7 days. My dad passed away sad and disappointed with me. I’m not very sure that he loved me much towards the end the way he used to years ago, and if I’m right I can’t blame him. I’m supposed to know myself best, and even I can’t define myself well any more. I mean well, I would like to help and do some good, but nobody is willing to hire me at 38 for some extra work, I’m “too old”. I can’t help mom much with the bills or drive her somewhere. Procrastion led me to the point at which I don’t only mourn my dad’s death, but also question the sense of my existence. The more time passes, the more I am convinced that it would have been much more fair and just if I died and my dad stayed to live. I feel completely useless, I’m just a burden with all my incompetence and health issues. I can’t even afford to fix the computer that broke down again, so I can’t be consistent even with just blogging. Everything seems to be against me, yet I still defy it – I’m blogging from the phone. Hopefully it won’t break down as well.

So to whomever reads this – don’t procrastinate. Whatever needs to be done, do it now. It’s ok to be sorry when you lose someone, but you don’t need to be sorry for all the wrong choices and missed opportunities as well at those sad moments. No matter what fairytales or other say, don’t believe them – there is no time. No time to lose.

Flowers are pretty anywhere

Last year when I posted my flower photos, I could never imagine even in my worst dreams that this time this year I would be visiting a cemetery quite often and carrying flowers out there in that vast, open space. It was next to impossible to work with camera again, and I never planned to take any photos myself at the grave of my grandmother and my dad.

Modern technology interfered, I always had my cell phone with me, so my mom would always ask – why don’t you try to make some photo, so that we have memories of different days we went to visit them? I couldn’t refuse, being convinced that nothing special would come out of such trials. I finally transferred those photos to the computer and it was such a strange surprise. The place where the photos were taken is sad, the occasions were very sad, yet flowers make quite a difference. It doesn’t matter where flowers are, they’re always a pretty sight, they embellish even the saddest spot. They made me realize that there can be some beauty in grief as well.

Rest in peace, dear dad.

pink gerbera

crven gerber

crveni gerber

colorful-flowers

primrose

love-in-idleness

chrysanthemums-serbia

sky-over-the-cemetery

Lonely, yet not alone

There are always people around me. This is a pretty big town, it’s been that way for as long as I remember it – busy traffic, busy streets, everybody running somewhere and pushing you aside if you fail to keep up their pace. I was part of that pace once, running every day to fulfill that self-destructive personal mission of overachieving in every possible way. I surely pushed aside somebody myself being completely oblivious of that, with my mind obscured by the image of goals I was constantly setting up in front of me. Then I stopped running and started hiding, taken by that false primordial belief that my home is my shelter and that as long as I don’t leave it, nothing bad can happen. Conscious realization is one thing, instincts are something completely different. Unfortunately enough in my case, instincts always won because that’s how nature works. Fighting those instincts is one of the toughest tasks life can impose on you, but it’s not something you can give up on, because giving up on it would mean giving up on yourself. If you choose to live in these conditions, you have to be ready for a rough fight. So I started running once again, this time from all those anxiety provoking situations which is just about everything real life out there away from home consists of. I probably pushed some more people aside in those mad rushes to save myself from the invisible enemy, but those are moments that I surely don’t remember. Runs turned into fast walking and that’s pretty much where the progress stopped, until I had to live the tragic loss of my father. Maybe you thought that all that happened with him made me run again, but that’s not the case. Grief, just like any somewhat more serious body illness slows you down, tames you pace, makes you drag yourself, stop or even sit down and ponder, watching powerlessly the world around you. I guess it’s body’s way of protecting you from losing even those last tiny resources of energy left in your stores. Tears wash out tons of anger and anxiety related chemicals and give you that much needed natural sedation for a moment or two. When you walk slowly like that in the middle of the previously mentioned mad crowd, it’s only then that you really see how much those around don’t even notice your presence, let alone your problems. They push you, hurry you, walk past you, sometimes even address you a couple of bad words if you’re standing in their important way. They are around you, you’re not alone, but somehow you feel lonelier than ever.

It’s not much more different with acquaintances or those considered real life friends. I remember reading somewhere some time ago that the more time passes from the loss you experienced, the less and less frequently people will contact you. At first, your phone usually rings all the time, this person wants to know how it happened, than that person calls who heard from this person, then you inform somebody who cries and informs dozens of others and so on. You repeat the story over and over again, slowly ending up totally exhausted. In the coming days phone still rings, people check up on you. They usually offer help in general, but you usually never ask for anything. By the time you reach approximately two months from the tragic event, you realize that something is not right, that life is dominated by even more silence than usual. You look at the phone and that’s when you get it, it has virtually stopped ringing. Other people had just about enough of all that already old story and turned to other different life battles. They don’t call you, but you end up finding out about what’s going on in their lives – standing on a no man’s land of your own life, you observe other people’s weddings, birthdays, promotions, smiles, gestures of love, expressions of happiness. You can’t participate in all this, nor they need you around if you’re numbed by grief. Sometimes it seems to me that grief is considered a dangerous contagious disease, the further you go away from it or the less you talk about it, the stronger is the illusion that you’ll never catch it. I was walking the other day down the street and the woman who knows me was approaching me, holding her little son by the hand. The moment our eyes met, she gave me some strange look which was a mixture of pity and dislike and moved to the other side of the street, pushing her son to her right, away from me. I overheard her mother asking her why she did it, and she replied that it was because she didn’t know what to say to me. Hello would be just fine, there is no need for anything extra special. A bit more than a week ago there was a wedding we all should have attended as a family. When the word about my dad’s passing away was spread, we didn’t even receive the invitation any more, attending weddings is improper in my circumstances. My mom and me still mustered the strength to prepare and deliver the present all the same because we consider that person important, only to discover today that the present is still lying where we placed it, untouched and unopened. There were around 400 shiny happy people on that wedding, so indeed why should a present from two grief stricken women be taken into consideration on such a crowded event. The same happened with a birthday present I traditionally give every year to a friend – this person didn’t have time even for a small talk with me and didn’t even look at what I brought. I waited all evening with my cell phone in my hand for at least a short text message to know if the gift was liked, but there was none. I’ve always loved giving out presents to people especially when I nail what they truly like, but I guess that right now it’s all about my inability to spread happiness around me. There is this one line from our quite good TV show where a woman begs for love and the man replies: “How can you Sophia make me or anybody else happy, when you are so unhappy yourself?” Whatever the case is, the fact is that I feel lonelier and lonelier every day, sitting alone in my black clothes and with that black sorrow in my heart. Maybe it’s still too soon, the day after tomorrow it will be two months without dad. Or maybe I’ll never truly get used to it. Just like when Dr. Brennan talks with agent Booth at the end of one episode of Bones and asks him – How do you overcome a loss? He replies – You never really overcome it, you just survive.

Technically speaking, I survived. For now. But it feels like standing in the middle of the field, after the war ended. You’re free to do whatever you want, but you have no idea how to live that new life. And you’re very much alone in all that, no matter how many people move around you in that reality.

It’s all life

Something crossed my mind tonight as I was washing the black shirt I wear a lot these days. I’ve been wearing only black things since dad passed away, but not really or only because it is the tradition in my country – this is how I feel and this is what the mind naturally chooses to do, it’s somehow that the brain becomes color resistant in grief – at least this is the best I can describe it with words. It totally is not me though to wear only black, so I had to buy some shirts, the one I was washing being one of them. My mind wandered off in this process to the phone conversation I had had earlier in the evening – I wasn’t feeling well at all in the first place when the phone rang, and there was this person calling with lots of shiny and glittering details about going on a luxurious holiday. Not a word about me, my life, my feelings, if and how I’m coping. Just about how great the place is, how much it costs, how special the accommodation will be… I sort of couldn’t grasp why I had to endure listening to all that boasting in this period of my life, with or without the situation with my dad I’m miles away from such a lifestyle and people involved in that story. Then as I was wrenching the shirt, I suddenly realized how firmly black its color is and how different life is for every one of us in any given moment – somebody is embarking on a high style journey, somebody is as we say wrapped up in black, somebody out there is being born at that very instant, somebody is celebrating a birthday or an anniversary. Somebody is getting married or divorced, somebody is sick or dying, somebody is being buried. It has always fascinated me how so many different things could be going on in the exact same fraction of time on this planet. Good, great, bad and horrible things, all together. And it is all life.