Letters to Tuvia #91 What was I thinking? (12-1-15)

Evening T,

Today was a dreary, rainy mess of a day- not the best setting for the start of a bereavement group but I was undaunted, sure that this would be a perfect group for me.

With my trusty GPS I navigated back to Paramus from Rockland on familiar highways to  the Kraft Center, a satellite of Valley Hospital. I grabbed a coveted parking spot and headed into the building to find the meeting room.  I was sure this would be a good thing, sure of it.

I walked in with a woman who would be joining me- older, shaky, tears flowing.  We spoke a bit but I kept to myself.  We were firs to arrive. I turned on the light and grabbed a seat at the conference table. Cold  room, cold around this table.  Kim, the facilitator joined us with a welcome as she opened and spread small boxes of tissues and miniature toy horses around the table that would probably make sense as we began.

By 11:15 the table was filled with mourners- 7 women, 3 men.  Kim introduced herself and the toy horses- the horse on the table– seemed to be the elephant in the room.  She shared the  story of the horse on the table  that she was paraphrasing from a textbook she brought with her.  The “critic” in me wondered why she didn’t just tell us the story  and then have us make sense of it- maybe even write into the workshop-  hey,  that’s me.

Slowly we went around the table sharing something about ourselves and the story of our loss. We went second and spoke for just a few minutes- everyone else either couldn’t speak at first or couldn’t stop speaking about their loss.  Every other person shared stories of long, drawn out suffering- years of cancer treatments, years of sadness  and all  I wanted to do was run away.

When the hour+ ended, I was up and out first and I couldn’t look back.  I’m sure this group will be helpful to many who sat around that conference table. Thank God I was smart enough to get myself into therapy ASAP and I’ve been making progress one-on-one, week- after- week with Sandie.

You were a gift to me in life and in death Tuvia.  You didn’t suffer, I didn’t suffer and I can’t continue in this group.  I am moving back into my life and I’m taking you with me.  If I continue with this group I feel like I will regress.

Back at the house, hesitant as I unlocked to door and collected the mail, I breathed  you in me and smiled, so happy to be back in our familiar world.  I walked around the house, looking around for more mementoes of  our life together.  I was on a mission to find your menorah and this time I would be more patient as I retraced my steps, gently moving around bags and objects in drawers and cabinet shelves in the kitchen and dinning room..

I sat down at the kitchen table with a black cherry yogurt and looked around the room, at the cabinets I have never opened.  The two just over the refrigerator were high, close to the ceiling. I couldn’t reach them and  why would you even consider using them,  but hey, it was worth a shot.  I grabbed a chair and reached for the one on the right- empty but then the left- BINGO! treasure hunt over. Your sweet, ceramic menorah, the one you brought with you from Israel 50 years ago sat waiting for me to find.

I promise you T,  I will cherish your treasure on Chanukah this year and every year to come. In fact it will travel with me to Hoboken when I celebrate with the family.  A new tradition!

Sitting with Tara over salmon and risotto, tomatoes and wine, sharing our day and my find I felt balanced and grateful T, so grateful.

Love you,

Bonnie S.

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12 thoughts

  1. In FIG PUDDING, Ralph Fletcher says, “When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later one. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There’s really no way around it.” I thought of that quote when I was reading your post today, Bonnie. I think everyone has to make their own way through grief. For some people, the grief group might be right. For you, it’s not. Wishing you peace and new joy…

  2. I think it’s always good to take a step and try something, and as Carol said, perhaps the group is not for you, but for others. You know I had a long, long time saying goodbye, but I had good friends and family around me/with me all the time. They were the ones I talked and shared with, felt comfortable with and comforted by. And Arvie and I had time, too. Each of us must eat that big bowl of pudding (as Carol said) in different ways. Good for you for giving it a go, and then walking away because you knew it wasn’t for you. Love hearing about the menorah discovery. Paths open in mysterious ways for us, don’t they? Hugs for a thoughtful day.

    • As I work through my loss I think a lot about you and your challenges. It’s so horrible to be without Tuvia but I never lost him before he died. I can’t imagine and applaud your courage – amazed!
      Thank God for friends

  3. This forum is your support group and it fits you. The other did not meet your needs. I think you were so smart to find Sandie to help you in the grieving. You reach out with your words and someone reads and responds.

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