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Saturday, January 15, 2011
The Silent Butler Revisited
On Sunday, January 2, 19 months after Clint’s death, I bravely unloaded his silent butler, stowed away his pants and belts and slippers and moved the silent butler to the guest room. I did so with a matter of fact demeanor, no tears, knowing it was the right thing. I need to move on, and it has been a torturously slow and painful process.
I applauded my courage and was sure I had done the right thing. Then Thursday arrived, and I woke in a pit of depression. I now know that it is called delayed grief reactivation.
Over the last week and a half, I have been tempted to move the silent butler back into my room and reload it with Clint’s things. It needs to stay where it is, appropriately available for guests to use, but when I look at the empty place where it stood against the wall on his side of the bed, I suffer periods of weeping and feeling as though he died only yesterday.
Work days are not so painful, and I am going to request to be scheduled to work on Sundays. They are the hardest, the days when we Poppy and I lolled around the house watching golf or football or tennis on TV. We usually had vodka and orange juice with a small brunch around noon. Then we would take a nap and get ready for whatever game we were planning to watch. Yes, Sundays remain difficult in a striking way.
And I continue to have frequent episodes of excruciating grief, tearing up at the mere thought of him, of how disappointing it is to be mired in this agonizing cycle of healing followed by more sadness.
When Clint died, my therapist warned me that it would be a long process to reach that place where I am more healed than wounded. Her exact words were: “The more you have lost, the harder it will be and the longer it will take.” She was right, of course, but this latest episode has me feeling disappointed and cheated. Part of me wants to move on, but there is a place at my core where I am still holding on, hoping he will return. It is a dreadful infirmity.
Could it be that I was so defined by my relationship with my husband? As years have passed and I cared for my brother and my mother, only to see them die within 2 months of one another, I was the brave one, the courageous backbone of the family. Was I drawing all that strength from Clint, his complete support of me, his willingness allow me the privilege of spending as much time with them as I could carve out of the calendar?
Then he got sick, and I thought I could will him to live, thought that if I unyeldingly wanted him to live, he would. On occasion, I would try to imagine what life without him would be, but I was never capable of believing that one day he would actually die.
Am I not my own being? Am I the other half of Clint Schlottman and therefore only half a person? Where did my strength go if it didn’t leave with him? How am I to go about finding my whole self? Will it ever happen?
No, I am not suicidal. I am far too responsible to do a thing like that. It has never occurred to me to run away from this by killing myself. There has to be another way.
But where is the path?
© cj Schlottman