Saturday, July 24, 2010


I woke up at 6:00 this morning, to find e-mail from my uncle telling me about Ken; he didn't realize that Steve had told me. He'll be back in the States on Monday. The medical examiner will have Ken's body until Tuesday. I don't know anything about funeral arrangements yet, except that Ken will be buried with other family members in Flagstaff, which is a better-than-two-hour drive from his and Carol's house in Phoenix. I'm trying to figure out if it makes more sense to fly into Phoenix and rent a car, or to fly directly into Flagstaff. I guess everything will become clear when there are definite plans.

Liz will be flying to the funeral, too: ironic, since she just got home from a funeral trip out west. We joked wanly on the phone today about how we have to stop meeting like this.

I hope at least some of us get to make a side trip to Sedona. I keep hearing how gorgeous it is, and I've never been.

My uncle's e-mail was very matter-of-fact, so I don't know (and can't imagine) his emotional state. When Liz and I talked on the phone this morning, I was semi-hysterical and she was in stoic "that's life" mode. We tend to be in opposite states at any given moment. (At some point, I'm sure she'll be semi-hysterial and I'll be stoic.) Luckily, I've seen enough of this at the hospital to know that it's normal. Grief's a choatic process even for one person; add others into the mix, and the emotional chaos increases exponentially, since no two people are ever in the same place at the same time.

Meanwhile, I went to the hospital this morning. I have to admit that I questioned whether I was in the right mindset, but I haven't been there in weeks, and I missed it. Luckily, I had a good shift. I got my usual booster-shot of perspective by talking to people whose lives are much more chaotic than mine, and who are handling their Big Chaos -- even from an ER gurney -- with grace and humor. I think I was helpful, especially to a suicidal patient with whom I had a long and fulfilling conversation. I had a fun chat about pets with an RN who was eating his lunch while I was eating my power-bar-plus-V8 snack.

I also told several nurses about Ken, and asked if his treatment for colon cancer several years ago could have made him more vulnerable to sudden death. They said there's probably no connection.

It makes no sense. Liz said that one of Carol's friends pronounced briskly, "There is no excuse for this," and I couldn't agree more. It's completely unfair: Ken was so miserable during the cancer treatment, and we all thought he'd come out the other side, and then he keels over?

The work of grief, at least for me, is to make some kind of sense out of senselessness. I think this one's going to be a long haul. I've already given God the "What were you thinking?" earful. If my father were alive, he'd ask me how I could even believe in God at a time like this. Other events in my life won't let me not believe in God, but that doesn't mean I can't be angry at Her.

Today at the hospital, I reminded a patient dealing with an especially gnarly chunk of Chaos that raging at God is a form of prayer. There's a lot of prayer-without-ceasing happening at my house, in through here.

On a brighter note, on Thursday night I finally picked up the fiddle again. At Friday's lesson, I told Charlene what had happened during the service and how miserable I'd felt about it. "You just froze," she said, and gave me an easy polka to learn, and heaped praise upon me when I picked it up quickly by ear. So I'm much heartened, and am once more enjoying playing simple tunes.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:20 PM

    Dear Susan,

    I'm so very glad you had a good day at the hospital! Also that your fiddle teacher is so sympathetic and encouraging, and that you are playing again.

    In the middle of the tough times you are endure these days, I hope these practices will continue to give you glimpses of hope and joy.

    Thinking of you,



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