Real and unreal – flipped upside down and turned inside out

Good morning everyone,
Today’s musing actually started in my mind yesterday morning.  Yesterday was one of the hardest days I have had in the last several weeks.  And yet there were moments in it that made my heart sing a little bit more than it has in recent days.  It was a day filled with lots of “real” moments and even more “unreal” moments.   The challenge I face in this time and in this moment is the absolutely bizarre reality that everything has been flipped upside down, turned inside out, where the “real” as become the “unreal” and vice versa.  No wonder I, and our kids, are wondering around dazed and confused.  Nothing is as it should be anymore.
Many have heard the stories of my crazy, night time dreaming and sometimes adventures in my sleep.  I tend to have very vivid dreams in which something is breaking or is lost.  Often these dreams are connected to water, sink holes, or electrical issues.  Have been exploring these dreams for years and giving folks funny stories to share of experiencing the very active – jumping out of bed and moving things – acting out of these dreams.  On Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, my dreams were all of Russell and the hospital; first dreams I have had of him since entering Cuckoo Lukoo land almost 3 weeks ago.  In my dreams I kept “losing him” – some dreams he was still alive, others he had died.  In all, I lost his body and kept waking panicked that I couldn’t find him.  Real and unreal blurred together in these dreams leaving me frantically jumping out of bed several times.
My morning yesterday started very early.  I tend to get up early anyway, 4:00 am being pretty normal for me in the last year.  My crazy dreaming left me very ready to get up and get out of dream land.  Thank goodness for Ru.  Having a puppy in the house does make these early morning hours just a little bit more enjoyable right now.  The pleasure of puppy play and snuggles is so very sweet early in the morning. It was especially lovely  snuggling with her yesterday morning.  My smiles are both real and unreal as I realize everyday that Ru gives us light each day, and yet we wouldn’t have her right now if Russell was still alive.  Real and unreal.
Kirsten and I then had the great, though poignant pleasure of joining the Immaculate Conception School community at a memorial mass for Russell.   This community of faculty and children did an amazing job sharing their memories and their love of Russell with one another and us.  Each class sent up a representative(s) to share stories, poems, songs, and a great deal of love for Russell and our family.  The community gifted Kirsten and I with rose bushes, candle lanterns, and lots of lovely, heart felt cards.  Real and unreal.
As hard as it was to experience the waves of emotion wash over me again, being in that place, in that time was a deep experience of being in a “real” moment.  The truth is that attending memorials; sharing stories with friends; talking with my kids,Kirsten or other close family and friends; all of these are more real moments than the very unreal moments of trying to do “normal” things.  In the church yesterday morning, I felt my heart open wide through my tears as I felt the love for Russell and his family surround me and flow through me.  To be hugged by so many folks who want nothing more than to reach out to us and be connected in our shared grief is definitely real and unreal.
After the service, Kirsten and I went out for breakfast where we talked about so very many things.   She is one of the easiest people to be with right now as we both wander through days trying to process all that has happened in a relatively short period of time.  We both walk through the world fogged and experiencing things in such a raw, conflicted way.  The easiest of tasks are hard while hard tasks (ie attending memorials) seem to be the easiest.  Real and unreal.
I tried to then go to Avalon for a few hours after breakfast.  As healing as that space is for me, I found out very quickly that it wasn’t a “safe place” for me to be yesterday.  Actually it’s more that it was a safe place for me to be, but being around others and trying to act “normally” wouldn’t have been safe for other people.  My desire to keep shielded and bite my tongue so I wouldn’t lash out was pretty much shot to hell.  Much too pretty of a day for folks to allow my crankiness at the world and my off balance feeling from being flipped upside down and inside out to lash out at them.  Real and unreal.
My afternoon flippity flips came from meeting with the life insurance agents at John Wottowa’s office.  I am so thankful for John’s presence through this rocky part of my path.  He and the Knights of Columbus agents were patient, kind, understanding of my fogginess and very gentle as we moved through the paperwork.  Filling out the paperwork to receive this final, freeing gift from Russell wasn’t too bad.  However, realizing the shocking truth that I am now a single parent and changing my life insurance paperwork in recognition of this reality rocked me to my core.  Thankfully, the 3 men just carried on a conversation about the trivia night around me as I focused on my breath.  Real and unreal!!!
My trip to Target after the insurance meeting was as bizarre as my other trips to a store have been in the last few weeks.  I am okay as I wander through the store, though my trips are long since I need to go up and down almost every aisle to try and remember what I came into the store to buy.  Pushing a cart is a good, mindless activity for me – feels real and fairly grounding.  It’s when I get to the checkout lanes that I slip into that unreal sense of functioning and end up almost biting my tongue until it bleeds.  Checkers are very friendly and I have a hard time right now with casual conversing.  All feels cuckoo and just wrong somehow.  The sweet checker yesterday almost got the condensed version of my current story. As he asked about plans for Easter, I almost blurted out “My husband just died. I’m a single parent and a widow.  Nothing is as it seems right now. Blah, blah, blah.”   Wearing full mourning clothes as Kirsten has been advocating seems like more and more of a possibility as I try to function in the world. Or wearing a black hat that says “widow”.   Real and unreal.
The rest of my day and evening I spent vegging out with my kids.  We slept, ate a little, watch the first season of Modern Family, played with our dogs,  laughed at puppy antics, talked of hopes for new adventures, hugged a lot and talked of how unreal everything seems right now.  So glad that Russell and I have raised children who are able to walk the space in between real and unreal.  While we all want to get back to some kind of normalcy and daily connecting with “regular” life, we are each aware we are not there yet and it may take awhile to get there. Real and unreal.
As I prepare for another day of clearing and letting go (cleaning out Russell’s office, stopping by funeral home to pay bill, and more cuckoo luckoo tasks), a few more “real and unreal” experiences spring to mind.
*paying bills this morning with the knowledge that in a few weeks I will be able to pay off all our debts including the house is very much a real and unreal experience.
*receiving requests for summer camp registration and trying to respond feels very unreal.  Writing my emotional musings – very real.
*expecting lots of rain storms today as forecasted and yet it is currently gorgeous out – real and unreal and oh so lovely!
*staring at all of large list of thank you notes to write is a very real task but so unreal why I need to do them.
I have little doubt that it will be weeks and months that I will experience the world as being upside down and inside out; the real and unreal of life being reversed.  It is an odd, odd world I wander in right now.  A world in which, you all “my people” keep me grounded with your hugs, your stories, and your continuous reaching out in support to my family.    You all are the most “real” part of this journey.
Peace and love,
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