The Catching of Breath

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Uncle Adam and Coco … 2009? … at the Mango Tree restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Adam really knew how to eat corn… not leaving a kernel by the time he was done. He was efficient at it, and mocked my poor non-Nebraska corn-eating haphazard style.

Bixby knows.

He knows it’s different this time. When Adam was gone in April and May, Bix slept on the other side of the bed. Now, he’s jammed up next to me at all times. It’s like he knows it’s not temporary anymore, and he stays close for reassurance that all will be well.

Or maybe he’s just cold.

I’m in this stage now where I can go a couple of hours feeling OK. OK does not mean good. It means I can go for a few hours with Adam as a backdrop to my life, always peeking around the corner. But then, my breath catches, my stomach aches and it’s that debilitating fear. That fear you might get if you think to hard about the fact that you ARE going to die.

That fear is closer now that Adam has gone. That I’ve held two people now and watched them leave me. Dad and Adam. Two of the loves of my life. I see death now, but I have to change the word. It’s not fear anymore. It’s just there. It’s closer than ever. But then it’s so far. So far when you factor in grief.

I’m getting a better grip on what I can and can’t handle. I know there are times I can join my friends for something, and times when I know it’s better to just stay home. These hours alone are precious now. They are the times when I can fully envelop myself in Adam’s memory. Sometimes, this leads to tears, but not always anymore. The need to grieve alone can be overwhelming at times. I feel like I sometimes can’t get out of a crowd quickly enough. Then there are times that I am out of the crowd too soon.

I’m confusing. I know. It’s grief.

I’m focusing hard on Al-Anon right now. I’m doing it backward without a foundation as I no longer have an active alcoholic in my life. I’ve had confusion being stuck on step one: that I am powerless over alcohol, and thus in an Al-Anon way, I was powerless to do anything about Adam’s choices. The confusion came because there is also an Al-Anon list of Do’s and Don’ts that was discussed. If there are “do’s” and there are “don’ts,” doesn’t that mean that I had some sort of power? If I “did” the “don’t,” did I screw up and contribute to Adam’s drinking?

Someone finally tried harder to explain what Al-Anon is. It’s not about Adam, or whoever is drinking in your life. It’s about “you.” Doing the “do’s” and not doing the “don’ts” is precisely because you don’t have power over the drinker. You are a hamster on a wheel, causing anxiety only to yourself, spending your life focusing on someone else as if your life was less important. Maybe there is someone out there who can help me focus and understand even more … do I have this correct? I really just am stuck on the fact that I was powerless. I feel like I want to have all the guilt for life because it makes more sense. It’s easier to understand a concrete concept like “I did this because I nagged him” than “addiction is a mystery we are all still working on.”

And that’s where I’m also stuck. My life was not any more or less important than Adam’s. I would have taken the risk for my own life, to give part of my liver for him. I would have continued to live in a state of anxiety for him. I wanted to run away from the anxiety; I told him this. But I didn’t. There are still times I wish it was the other way around. That I was nonexistent and he was here for his family. I feel useless to my family. I feel like a burden of sadness.

I’m sorry I’m so messed up, that I put my grief out there. Know that I won’t feel bad if you stop reading. Grief is definitely uncomfortable for people.

You know what’s not uncomfortable? These black jeans. I’m still wearing them … every fucking day. I change my shirt and sometimes the sweatshirt. Sometimes it’s the same soft Dane hockey sweatshirt and black jeans three times in a row.

At least I have washed them…… once.