Looking over the shoulder, as far as the eye can see, there are varying shades of red, yellow, blue, orange, sometimes black, and occasional bits of white. The colors are stretched out, blended together here and there, some peak so high it is impossible to see where it ends, some are low, bubbling bursts, and sometimes they are a sooty, dark mess. All are hot to the touch.
It is impossible to know where the beginning is and exactly where it ended, if it ended. There are days when I still feel it yet it is nothing like it use to be.
Recently, in a moment of quiet reflection, it came to me that I was emerging from the anger stage of grief. Maybe it lasted a year, maybe less, or maybe more. It’s difficult to put a time frame on the evolving anger, feeling it’s fire pulse and then, insidiously, falling to embers. It isn’t gone, and maybe it never will completely vanish, but my heart is no longer living in the flames, day in and day out.
The diagnosis of a fatal disease was a long one in coming for him. The pace of the disease in his body is slower than ninety percent of others who have it. We knew something was wrong but it was a mystery for a few years. We had been to a number of specialists before a diagnosis was confirmed. It is among the most difficult of diseases. It leads to full body paralysis and death. Whether we actively know it, or not, grieving begins immediately.
The anger stage of grief can be a challenge. It’s not easy to pinpoint. It isn’t like one day you think ‘oh, I picked a fight today because I’m angry about death coming too soon. I must be grieving.’ It wasn’t, it isn’t, that clean cut. It was more like a fire that was ebbing and flowing in strength.
The things I was angry about: he is dying, his muscles are wasting, he is losing his independence, I am losing my independence, we moved from a house I loved but wouldn’t be able to afford on my own when he dies, I left my job so we could move to a more affordable area, I work virtually but miss the daily contact with colleagues, I felt tethered to my laptop because that’s how I work, I was lonesome for friends, it was weird to introduce yourself in the new neighborhood bearing the weight of impending doom, and he has a fatal disease. It always comes back to that and I hate it. No one ever wants you to say that, not really.