Tough Time, Cont’d

Last night I went with a friend and her seven-year-old daughter to see the Pixar movie “Up.”  I thought “Ah, what better than a nice, animated children’s comedy to finish off the week!”  Turns out, it wasn’t quite the pick-me-up I was looking for.  The previews are quite funny and bill the movie as documenting an grumpy old man’s haphazard adventure with an accidental friend when he floats his house off the ground into the big blue yonder by inflating a bazillion of colorful balloons.  Now, I won’t spoil the movie for you (it’s a Pixar film – not much to spoil, really) but the previews only told part of the story.  The story is actually about a once very happy man who loses his wife to illness and then spends the rest of his days coping with her loss, ultimately deciding to pursue their mutual lifelong dream as a final tribute to her.  Oh, man.  And it hammered the point home all the way though the movie.  Gawd.

I haven’t been around too much death in my life, thankfully, so I don’t know how people who are grieving tend to act.  But, were I a guessing man, which I am, I’d guess that you could expect those in the throws of tough grieving to do strange and unproductive things.  Drug and alcohol abuse, probably.  Buy expensive toys or cars, yup.  Overeat, certainly.  Sleep too much, sure.  Fly to Vegas and rent six hookers for a week, oh yeah.  Reckless abandon.

The reason why I’d expect people in my situation to do such things is very clear to me (as one with grieving goggles on.)  I can feel this thing, this something-er-other somewhere deep inside, a void or itch that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Something definitely doesn’t belong.  Something’s just not right.  It’s not a feeling I’m familiar with so I just can’t find it to scratch it.  To try, I search down my list of usual suspects.  Hungry?  Nope, just ate.  Sleepy?  No, not really.  Maybe I’m ill or badly out of shape. No way.  Thanks to copious amounts of focused anger and my gym membership, I’m in great shape.  Is the iron on or the fridge door open?  Well, I’m home so no, probably not.  Did I feed the dogs.  Yup, did that, too, and they’ve both done their business outside (thankfully.)  Then what the hell is this feeling?  It’s miserably uncomfortable.  It just sits there, heavy, like a meal of bad fish flopping in my gut.

To satiate or temporarily drown out the unpleasant and unfamiliar discomfort, I’m drawn to more and more psychologically noisy things.  Fortunately, I’ve have some self control and can use my reserves of logic to temper the demon that could be let loose.  Or maybe I’m just scared to let them run.  Either way, my risky behavior thus far has been limited to skeet shooting, seeing a band in a 4th street bar, and flying to Vegas to rent two hookers (not six.)  Well, that last one is still in the very early planning stages.  But none of that has helped much.*  The discomfort sits unwavering, unaffected, uncomfortable.  When the ringing in my ears from both the skeet shooting and the concert faded, the discomfort was still there, waiting for me to become reacquainted.

*  As a side note, I really, really, really wish people would stop asking me questions like “What are you thinking about?”  I’ve been trying very, very hard to be polite with my brush-off answers.  I’m going to become much less polite soon.  It is the all-time #1 stupidest question of the decade.  If you don’t know what I’m thinking about or can’t make a pretty good guess at it, you are an idiot and I don’t want to talk to you anyway.

The best way I can describe the discomfort is that it feels like my soul is convulsing.  Rightfully so.  I’ve spent ten warm and cozy years snuggled up to She Who Made My Life Complete, the soother of my soul.  Now, she has been ripped away and my soul is both burning and freezing at the same time.  I have to wonder, before Maggie and I met, did I feel like this all the time but had just gotten used to it?

43 thoughts on “Tough Time, Cont’d

  1. It is so normal for you to feel the way you do. I KNOW – I’ve had a very similar void.

    Please don’t try to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, overeating, hookers, or anything else that is detrimental. You KNOW that won’t work.

    Whatever you are feeling inside – let it out!

    The two things that WILL work are time and the peace & comfort that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He loves you, Chris, and wants to heal the void. And He can, if you will let Him.

    It would be understandable if you feel anger towards God. If that’s the case, talk to Him and tell Him exactly what you feel towards Him. It will actually draw you closer to Him.

    It is amazing how much God’s love can help. Seek Him and you will find Him.

    My prayers and very best wishes are with you!

  2. Wow your last sentence really summed it up for me. They say its better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all – but they also say ignorance is bliss. Im certainly not one to judge which would have been better in your case – but its obvious that you and Maggie had “The Real Thing” and now you will be different forever without her. And maybe not different in a bad way forever – but different.

    Just know that if it means anything to ya – that people in far away lands have t-shirts saying “Team Chris” on them!!!

    Sending good vibes and restful nights your way…

  3. whoa, someone just dropped a jesus bomb on you. glad your grieving honestly and openly. I say stay far away from jesus and pixar films.

  4. Well said, Natausha! I can’t imagine my life without the love, peace, and saving grace of Jesus!

    I truly feel sorry for those who don’t have a relationship with Him – they are missing out on the most joyful, fulfilling parts of life!

  5. Please, please, please do not start a Jesus war on my blog. If you find comfort with your relationship with him, fine. This place isn’t about you and your relationships. It USED to be about me and my sweet wife’s Great Cancer Adventure. Now it’s about me and how I’m coping. Again, still not about you. If you need to proselytize, please go for it…. Somewhere else.

    I’m sorry if this is harsh but, and maybe I should have called this out in my post, too, but the second most annoying thing people say to me is about how God is going to make things better somehow. Well, again, I’m trying to remain polite but enough is enough. Stop it.

    Tell you what. How about I show up at your house, torture your most loved significant-other slowly over two years while you watch (and help clean up the mess!) and then strangle them slowly while you watch. I’ll also make sure and ruin your financial future, completely destroy with any dreams you had, take away any children you might want, too. Then, as parting gift, I’ll tell you that you should feel fine once you feel Jesus’ love. That should make everything ok. Sound a little insensitive? Well?

    Maybe instead of feeling sorry for those who don’t have Jesus in their life, maybe you should feel sorry for all those that haven’t had the privilege of Walking Through Fire like I have. Trust me, that’s definitely a real eye opener. Oh, but you wouldn’t know, would you. Sorry. Maybe, instead of setting up churches which ask only that you “believe” we create institutions that require you to “sacrifice,” that right when life is really starting to be wonderful, your loved ones should be gunned down while you watch. You should have to hold their hand when it happens. It’d be great! You can really set people free in a way that will change their lives. There’s a real business opportunity here.

    Don’t understand? Why would I not just passively submit to your naïve “Jesus will fix you” sing-song? Well, then you have no clue what it’s like to be in my shoes. Keep your advice to yourself.

    And, by the way, if I feel like overeating, taking drugs, hookers and/or alcohol, I will. You can suck it. Your ignorance is permanent. I can go on a diet, take penicillin, and/or go to rehab. I WILL prevail, no matter what. Of course, those pesky herpes blisters are hard to wash off.

  6. Chris,
    The old saying is that “time heals all wounds.” Well, that’s hogwash.

    Time (and loving friends and family…and therapy and blogging) can and, I believe, will help SOOTHE your deep wounds.

    Otherwise, wounds fester with time.

    Hard to believe, but you are on the healthy path. It’s a roller coaster, but it’s still the right (and very difficult) path.

    Kat

  7. Amen (???) Chris to your reply above. Who is anyone to tell you how you feel or what to think or believe in? You choose your own path–and if it involves drugs and hookers, then those of us who care about you will be there to support you through rehab and treatment for syphilus!!!

    Much Love…

  8. Chris, I am Michele, aka Anonymous #1 above. You are absolutely right – this blog is about you. The words in my post above were meant for you & you alone.

    You also said I had no idea what you are going through. Well, you’re wrong about that, unfortunately. I have been through exactly what you’ve been through – only I’ve been through it twice. I lost my soulmate, best friend, and husband, Kevin, after a little over 3-yr battle with cancer. When I finally began to pick up the pieces of my life, my 4-yr old daughter (my only child), Joy, was diagnosed. She passed away a little over two years ago.

    You’re not the first person to lose a loved one to a horrible illness, nor will you be the last.

    So, when I wrote what I wrote above, it was meant with no ulterior motive.I don’t get any sort of prize if I “convert” you! I wrote it from a place of caring & deep concern.I simply wanted to share some words of comfort with you and the one thing that literally saved my life – my relationship with Jesus Christ.

    After I lost my daughter, my home was foreclosed on and I felt completely empty and numb inside. I turned to alcohol, drugs, and overeating, as well as anything else I could think of, to fill that void. If you want to walk down that road, be my guest, but it’s a dead end.

    I turned to God – not church and not religion, just God. I shouted and told Him I was angry; I cried and told Him I didn’t understand. But, I kept reading the New Testament, looking for answers. And, I found a non-denominational church, which was so much better than any church I’d ever been to before – they teach the Bible alone, no man-made religious crap.

    As I posted above, when you seek Him, you will find Him. And, it’s not just some “belief” in your head. It’s hard to explaiin to a nonbeliever, but you can feel His presence with every fiber of your being. He fills the void and gives you a peace & comfort like none you’ve ever known…

    I just wanted to share something special with you that helped me through my grieving. I will always miss my husband and baby terribly, but I have the strength to get out of bed in the morning. And, my life has a purpose again – raising money for cancer research, raising awareness, bringing toys and reading books to sick children in the hospital.
    I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Maggie, but I do know she doesn’t want her passing to ruin the rest of your life.

    I am sorry that my words in post #1 offended you so. The LAST thing I wanted to do was make you angry or feel worse. I sincerely wanted to help.

    Best wishes, Michele

  9. Your anger is understandable. I would be angry, too, if I went through half of what I’ve read in your blog, man.

    But, why are you lashing out at people who care about you and want to help?

    Why are you telling someone to “suck it” and that their “ignorance is permanent” because they don’t want you to do drugs?

    I guess I can go suck it, because I care about you, too, bro.

  10. Oh, man, the movie thing. There ought to be a database somewhere that tells you what movies to avoid if you’re grieving. It’s unnoticeable to most people, but when you’ve lost someone and just want to escape in a movie, suddenly it’s everywhere.

  11. The wounds are just very deep. Very fresh, and not quite forming that protective scab that heals all the wounds underneath. I know, we all know everyone means well. I think just right now it sounds preachy and forced. Chris is logical, strong, amazing, funny, kind, etc. etc. He and all who love Maggie will find our path, the lesson, the meaning, whatever it is. But for the moment it’s still very WTF? And it’s really hard to find any comfort or sense of reason in God (He or She). Sometimes the only comfort is in a cold beer. And chris is not hanging with hookers, sorry chris! But he’s too much of a gentleman now and before he met Maggie to hang with 6 hookers.
    And about the kid friendly movies? Love them but avoid them all, there’s always a moral that makes me cry like a baby anyway, so can’t even imagine going in thinking it’s about flying and reaching dreams or something and being that totally wrong. But yet how odd the comic strip and this movie?

  12. Hey Chris

    I’m thinking Maggie set the beat and it’s just going to take time to again find the rhythm to your life.

    Hold Fast & listen to lifes healing music…
    Don MacLeod

  13. Dare I tread here, but I just want to say that I understand the anger. Any grief book you pick up will tell you it’s part of “the process.”

    I also understand the person wanting to share what helped them. Just picked the wrong time. Read Ecclesiastes 3…there is a time. (Or just listen to the Byrd’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.” 😉

    I’ve told you before my mom is suffering from Stage IV colon cancer. Doc told her this week chemo has stopped working. We’re devastated. She spent the day in the ER yesterday because of severe stomach pain. I’m scared to death.

    RE: movies. I sat down to watch a DVD with her a few days ago. First scene was a daughter sitting by her mother’s bed telling her goodbye (mom was dying from cancer). “Gawd” is right.

  14. During Maggie’s illness and in the weeks since her passing, Chris has been supported and complimented over and over and over and over about the manner in which he _HONESTLY_, OPENLY_, and WITHOUT RESERVATION_ shares his feelings and his life with all of us on this blog. Heck, he’s even had hundreds of us urging him to write a book. So now that he’s sharing his anger, should we be suggesting to him that he change his beliefs, reign in his movements through the Stages of Grief, get back to the part that brought tears to our eyes and warm feelings to our hearts? Chris is a kind, caring, intelligent man who is in the darkest stages of deep grief.

    Believe me when I say, if this blog becomes anything other than therapeutic and cathartic – a way for Chris to share this most difficult part of his life with caring, respectful, understanding, and nonjudgmental friends – this blog will end. And well it should!

  15. Chris,
    My heart just aches for you. I haven’t written in a long time but I read your blog all the time. Feel, write, say, whatever you need to. Grief is hell. Going through what you’ve gone through, witnessing what you’ve witnessed, is unspeakable. Grief and loss is not neat and tidy, like a “Hallmark” card. I can empathize with that ache, that void, that unknown itch, that you so eloquently describe. And you are so raw and vulnerable. Do not expect too much from yourself. Life will unfold as it unfolds. Just feel connected (if you can), but always feel you can express yourself.
    (Mom is right – as usual.)

  16. Oh Dear Chris,

    Just do what you have to do to save yourself. Nothing any of us can say will take the pain away, the void in your heart fill, or magically make things better.

    You are only human, just be yourself, the person that we all grew to love and never change.

    They say that the sun shines after the rain, and I hope that you will see that very soon.

    When somone we love suffers, WE ALL suffer.

    God how I feel your pain..I wish that people just die of very old age…not like this………….

    You are always in my heart.

    Maggie is free from pain now, and hopefully soon you will just start to remember the good things….

    My God I feel like I am just saying empty words with no meaning, but I guess I just want you to know that I care about you even though we have never met.

    Just do what you have to do.

  17. Dear Mom,

    Of course, you are right.

    It is wonderful of Chris to share so openly & honestly with us, and this blog should be something that is therapeutic & cathartic for him.

    With that said, I didn’t see any of what you mentioned here (in response to this day’s entry by Chris).

    What I did see was a kind woman reaching out to Chris when, not knowing him, she became concerned about his references to drugs & hookers. Those of us who know Chris know he wouldn’t do those things.

    But, she did those things in the darkest days of her grief after experiencing the same sort of loss.

    She wasn’t telling him not to be angry, to reign in his movements through the grieving process, or change his beliefs. At least that’s not what I got from her two posts…

    I just took it as someone who’s been down that road kindly reaching out and saying ‘hey, I’ve been down that road…it only makes things worse…it can be deadly!…this is what finally helped me.’

    I can only imagine, but if a stranger saw my kid about to do something reckless, I hope they would say, “what you are thinking about doing is dangerous!”

    As for Martin, his words were insensitive. I don’t know who he is or if he knows Chris or not. But, I think in his own way, he was trying to say what I’ve said. This woman was concerned and kindly offered her support. And, Chris’ reply to her WAS unnecessarily harsh. Calling her beliefs naïve, saying her ignorance is permanent, and telling her to go suck it…That’s really ok with you?

    MY mom would NEVER endorse me talking to someone that way! I was taught that I am responsible for my words and actions and, no matter what, it is NOT ok to treat someone that way.

    Chris needs his friends to be honest with him, too. But, we ALL need to be more thoughtful & sensitive about the words we use.

    1. Anonymous, I believe your discussion is not one to be played out on this blog. If you (or anyone else) would like to respond to my comments privately, you are most welcome. My e-mail address is nisuluwe@gmail.com.

  18. I started this whole mess, and I want it to end NOW, please, for Chris’ sake and for the sake of all those who loved Maggie. This “debate” is the LAST thing any of them need right now. PLEASE.

    Chris & Mom, I’m so very sorry that I started this. I only wanted to help! My heart aches because of the pain I inadvertently caused you both.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, Chris, as well as all of Maggie’s family & friends.

    Take care of yourself,
    Michele

  19. It’s amazing to me when people are in their deepest grief that someone has to bring things/their opinion into it that are unnecessary.

    Chris’ response was excellent. It really hit home after having lost both parents to cancer. What he said is very true.

    Please don’t stop this blog. It is wonderful to read all you and Maggie went through and to read how you are doing in life right now.

    No one has the right to judge anyone at all. Let people grieve their own way. We can all see from Chris’ writings that he is a very sensible person and has huge support from his family, Maggie’s family and friends.

    Please continue this blog Chris. I check in almost every day to see what you have added and to follow your journey now.

    Jean

    (You go Chris’ mom!)

  20. Friday on NPR they had an interview with the director of “Up”- as soon as he started in with the ‘maybe real adventure is not the traveling to far off lands and having exotic experiences… maybe true adventure is that one amazing relationship and deep connection you have with another person’- yeah, I got all teared up and marked it off the list. Don’t let the “discussion” in the comments discourage you from continuing to honestly express your feelings. The comments are their own anatomy of the dilemma of “what to say when you don’t know what to say”- people know you’re hurting, sincerely want to help, so they talk about their experiences, their do’ s and don’ts, the well-meaning cliches, etc.etc. Hey, I’m guilty of it too. As I said before, the shared experience of loss or illness does not allow for anyone to truly understand your feelings of love or grief of your relationship with Maggie- even if they have been through a similar experience with someone they deeply love. Its the flaw in support groups- we may share a common diagnosis, or loss, but that doesn’t mean we “understand” what someone else is going through or know the right way for them to handle it- because there isn’t one. Its very clear that your wonderful friends, and family and everyone else who posts (and the hundreds who don’t) truly care about you and how you are coping. But as Mom said, as soon as your blog stops being a place for you to write freely, it will no longer be meaningful and helpful to you (and selfishly, to me… and certainly others out there who are reading this.)As profound and eloquent as your writing is, it has been your honesty that makes your blog so powerful and so real. You have courageously chosen to share this process- and that means the good, bad and ugly. It may be a blog about you and your feelings, but seeing so many of my own reflected back makes me feel less alone. Thank you.

  21. Chris,
    Your Mom is right and so are you! I have a client[you know what I do] that said she would get so mad when people would say “I know how you feel”.she would say nobody knows how I feel! She just wanted people to listen……….
    Cry because it’s over,yes…but SMILE because it happened. You have had a love in your life that only people wish for.I’m sure Maggie is smiling about this whole ordeal, and I’m sure as well as you knew her, you know exactly what she’d say.
    Say what ever you feel,because NOBODY KNOW’S HOW YOU FEEL1

  22. Some of you apparently can’t read! Not one single time has someone said (regarding this blog entry by Chris) that they KNOW how Chris FEELS.

    Michelle said she knows what Chris is going through – which is different – because she’s experienced two tragic losses to cancer. That doesn’t mean that she knows his exact feelings or how he should feel or how he should grieve or whatever. It means she recognized something in Chris’ original post – the void, I suspect – that she also felt when she lost her loved ones.

    And, she and others have said it is normal for Chris to feel angry or that it is understandable that he feels anger, because of ALL of our understanding of “the grieving process” and the “stages” that one typically goes through. Who WOULDN’T be angry after experiencing what he did?

    So, don’t blast someone for saying something they never said, please, Bonnie.

    And, Jean, I’m sorry but your very 1st sentence is absolutely ridiculous.

    It’s very interesting to me that there is such a controversy because someone offered a few KIND words to someone who is hurting and suggested something that MIGHT help him. Is it because Jesus was mentioned? I notice NO ONE said anything when a couple of people suggested a grief support group to Chris last week or whenever that was. Isn’t that the exact same thing – someone offering a suggestion of something that helped them? No one had a problem with that one, though.

    Or, what if I said, “Hey, Chris, I’m sorry you’re hurting, man. I was really angry last week and so I took a nap, took a shower & then went and got a cold beer with a pal. Boy, did that make me feel better!” I’m guessing no controversy there either.

  23. Chris, keep writing and keep being true to yourself. We are all behind you and are supporting you. I think there has been some miscommunciation in the above posts but please know that there are a lot of people in Cyberspace who admire you and think you are a very special person.

  24. I only had mentioned what my client had said, with no reference to anyone.
    I didn’t BLAST ANYONE!!!!!!!Chris, and Maggie’s Mom know me, and they know that’s not what I’m about.

  25. Just stop…no more comments. Some silent reflection would do everyone some good. It’s not about us.

  26. Sooooo…how ’bout them Astros, eh? Yeah they’re starting slow but they’ll bounce back! Another World Series here we come!

    Chris, next time I visit A-town we’re going out for some beers!!

  27. I have been following your blog since the beginning and have been moved to tears countless times by your beautiful, painful words. To echo what your mom said above (and hundreds of others), I, too, hope you consider writing a book someday. Despite your pain, you have such an amazing gift for expression. Keep on Chris, so many people are pulling for you.

  28. chris,
    i feel for you man, i really do. i have no words of wisdom to offer you in this time of suckdom, i cant imagine what you must be going thru. i can offer you my couch here in north carolina if you want to get out of austin for a while or even texas for that matter. you are always welcome. mi casa es su casa. i’ll even take you fishing just like old times.

  29. Chris, I have posted before and I lost my wife of 21 years 4 months ago to the same shitty disease. Feel the way you want to feel, say what you want to say. I am a few months “ahead” of you on this horrible ride and I would NEVER suggest how you should grieve. Try to take care of yourself!

  30. I’m real sorry for your loss. I went to school with Maggie. She was a very bright, beautiful girl who was always makin us laugh. I can’t forget that big smile of hers.

    My family’s been saying a prayer for you & yours every night. And, we’re sending you our best wishes.

  31. Chris, I like many can’t imagine the pain you must be in. I want to thank you for this blog and your honesty and candor throughout. I for one wouldn’t have you change a single word of it. It’s yours and its real as it should be.

    1. This is really all that any of us should be saying, although Thomas’ post is pretty nice too. Anything you need, any time, don’t hesitate to call.

  32. I think about you and the strength you don’t realize you have everyday. You have changed my life. After what I used to think was a bad day at the office or a fight with the love of my life, I read this and realize how selfish I am.

    You are the strongest and most amazing person I have never met.

  33. I wish I were there to just LISTEN.
    Sometimes the best words you can say to someone who is grieving is nothing at all. Reaching out across the miles……… Hang in there, Chris.

  34. I would totally understanding if Chris decides to change the preferences on this blog so the comments can only be seen by him (at least for a while). That stuff just got out of hand. Personally – I’m more interested in what Chris writes anyway – not what other people comment.

  35. Beautiful sunflowers remind me of Maggie’s amazine smile…a smile I would never have known without your blog.
    (((((caring hugs)))))

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