by Hannah the Zebra
Sometimes we need to cry from deep within us. It is an essential part of the grieving process. Sometimes I push my emotions down and refuse to deal with them. Sometimes I can’t access them no matter how hard I try. And a lot of times I need help.
Thus last week found me sitting in Olga’s office. As our pastoral care priest, she is the one I have turned to over these three years since I have been diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency. Sometimes I go into her office and dance around what I want to talk about. What I need help with is so scary to deal with that simply getting to her office and talking around the topic is all I can do. Sometimes she probes and I still can’t go any deeper emotionally.
But last week was different. For one thing Olga was leaving for three months so I had a sense of urgency. I had also seen her two weeks earlier and already cried and talked with her about some of the changes I was going to have to make in my life, even though I didn’t want to.
And I was ready. I was ready to begin letting myself feel the deep sadness and loss that comes with truly realizing that I will never get my old life back. The disabilities I have due to the CVID are never going away. The things that I can no longer do because of my immune deficiency are gone. They are never coming back. And never is a long time.
I can often write more eloquently than I can speak because I have time to choose my words and think about what I want to say. So I asked Olga to go online and read my Grief post before we started talking. Or more to the point, before I started crying. She finished reading, left her computer, came around her desk, sat down in a chair, looked at me and said, “Ok.” And then I’d done it. I had laid my heart bare, and I started to cry.
The sadness comes from a place that is so deep it feels like it’s at my core. A lot of the things that I can no longer do are things that I did with passion and helped define who I am. How can I give up things that define me without losing part of myself?
The more we talked, the more she probed, the more I cried. I have probably only accessed that deep sadness four or five times since I was diagnosed, and they have all been since I was hospitalized. How do I do this? How do I give up so much and still be me? How do I give up so much and still embrace life?
At the end of the appointment Olga wrapped her arms around me and we prayed. The tears came harder then, so many emotions rising to the surface. And she gave me a prayer shawl, knit by a woman in our prayer shawl ministry. Wrapped in it I feel comforted, knowing that prayers and love have gone into the making of this shawl, and know that I am beginning, with small steps, to work my way through to the other side of grief.