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The end of grief...group. - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today... — LiveJournal
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
The end of grief...group.
Tears were in my eyes when Evelyn asked me to hold out my right hand. She is a kind, handsome woman of a certain age who has facilitated our grief group since we began in March of 2002. I knew what was coming, I had seen it before, but I held out my hand anyway.

“This stone is rough and will always remind you of the tough times you’ve experienced.” I looked down in my palm and saw a small white rock that resembled the kind of Home Depot gravel you’d see surrounding a small plot of begonias in a tacky garden.

“Now give me your left hand.” I did as told. “This stone is smooth and symbolizes the smoothness of your life as it unfolds in the future.” The brown nugget looked as if it had been polished by years of the Pacific surf. I looked up at her and tears started to stream. The maxim of the closing of one door and the opening of another was physically held in my hands.

I had been bracing myself for this moment in the past month. It actually had been tickling me for longer than that but now it was here and there was no looking back. I have come to depend on my four comrades in pain and I will always hold them close for their support and their love. I was able to get inside of these people and let them see the darkest parts of me, and it was a gift.

I looked to Earl, the only other man in our group, and thanked him for letting me know his Dora, his wife of twenty-four years whose life ended when the hijackers drove that cursed plane into the side of the Pentagon. I’ve drawn on his extraordinary strength as he struggles to raise his their two children as a single father. His eyes welled as he told me how proud he was to know me and how I helped bring humor in a place where laughter was an unwanted stranger.

Suzanne grabbed my hand with hers and with the other hand she was wiping her face. I told her how much I grew to love her Alex, a big strong man who had the misfortune of checking into LA’s best hospital for back pain and getting overdosed on morphine after she left him at 1:30am. I had coincidently met Alex when he tried to sell Billy a car. I’ve grown to know her three children who will never know their dad. She wished me well on my new adventure and hoped I would leave my heart open for love. I let the statement stand without argument.

Peggi and I always had a detestable thing in common – both of our husbands passed away on the very same day. It created an odd connection even though she is a deeply Christian woman. At the very beginning, I felt reserved with Peggi because I didn’t know her stance on Billy and me but I quickly found out her social politics had absolutely no play on this ground. She loved me unconditionally and her generosity of spirit has been unparalleled. She told me how much she loved getting to know Billy, and I told her that her Steve was a wonderful father and her children were lucky kids to have her guide them.

Finally it was Debbie who concluded the highly charged weep-fest. I’ve come to know Debbie and her daughter, Kimmi, outside of the group. She struggled so long watching her Steve dissipate through the ravages of prostate cancer and she now struggles to control her sixteen-year-old daughter. She is urbane and successful and has been completely available. Her Steve was a musician who wrote her songs she now has forever on CD and her house is littered with his instruments.

I sat there with my wet face and tried to choke out my gratitude. “You’ve all allowed me to express my darkest misery and you actually listened and held me and…” I couldn’t go on. I crumpled. The corniness of a group hug never felt less corny. When we left the building, we made plans for dinner next Friday.

As I was driving home, I felt relief. Not about old doors or new doors. Pages turned be damned. It wasn’t about easy aphorisms. I was relieved to have gotten to know such a wondrous group of friends.
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guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: August 6th, 2003 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
No. I don't think I will have the time or more importantly, the need while in DC. With the pressures of the job, something I've yet to address, and the sanctuary of LJ, I think I'll be fine without that level of support.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: August 6th, 2003 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
that is beautiful man. really touching. I can't imagine being that close or open to a group of people, but from your entries it sounds like it was a life saver for you.

thanks for sharing
among_the_stars From: among_the_stars Date: August 6th, 2003 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
The two stones is a really really cool idea. I like to have some sort of physical closure on things. I guess I'm just a very visual person when it comes to everything.

What a night for you, huh? I can't even imagine how emotional that must have been...

t_l From: t_l Date: August 6th, 2003 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for sharing that with us-it was beautiful and heartfelt and it made me cry.
brianrdu From: brianrdu Date: August 6th, 2003 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm with Suzanne...

...as far as those matters go. What a wonderful group of people. I could probably have been in a group like that a few years ago, but time really is a healer.

I'm so excited for you as you move forward!
ruralrob From: ruralrob Date: August 6th, 2003 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm excited for you and your coping skills too. Another chapter in your life written but never forgotten and always treasured . . .
backawayslowly From: backawayslowly Date: August 6th, 2003 09:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
My friend Rob, who's wife died of cancer about nine months after their wedding, was fortunate to find a grieving group that consisted exclusively of folks whose spouses had died of cancer. The other members in the group were all in their 40's and 50's, and Rob was 28.

"Is that weird for you?" I'd asked him.

"In any other context, it would be," he told me. "But, really, what's important here is that we all went through virtually the same exact thing."

Feeling loss. In some cases, regret. Feeling cheated. Fear of starting over. Aloneness. Dozens of other things that I can't fathom, I'm sure. That's what trancended any age barriers that might exist in any other social group of the same demographic. The folks from the group still met together even after the meetings formally ended, and still stay in touch a little bit, two years later.

I think grieving groups are an extraordinary thing. I wish more people were aware of them, and there were more out there.

Congrats on your successes in this area. I don't know you very well (yet), but at first glance it seems you've probably come pretty far. Best of luck on the rest of your journey.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: August 7th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Grieving groups are the saddest knitting circles in the world but their value is immeasurable. I never once felt the odd man out even though I was the only gay man in the group. We were all in our 30s and 40s. I'm so sorry for your friend Rob. This happened two years ago? I'm certain those around him told him it would be better after one year. The reality is the first year is the honeymoon period because you spend it in a state of suspended animation. The second year. Well, that's the tricky one.

I feel less cheated than I do for Billy. He had so many things to do on his chalkboard that he wanted to accomplish. It breaks my heart the most. It's my duty and honor to finish his goals as best I can.

Thank you very very much. There are times, especially in the wake of this new job opportunity, that I feel I've shaken off the some of the dust but there are also many times where I'm Mrs. Haversham shuffling around the house.
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