I'm supposed to be setting the timer and writing about joy. Because that is the word prompt for this week's Five Minute Friday. But I don't want to write about joy. Why do people pick these kinds of words at this time of the year? I would like to take a poll. How many of you out there (yes, you and you and even you over there) really find joy in Christmas? That's what I thought. When you don't have to be identified it is easier to say this really doesn't bring you joy. And what is joy anyway?
When Richard was dying, during that last, long, hard year, my mind would often stray to what my life was going to be like after he was gone. At that time I was thinking about how much I could sleep. How it would only be ME I would have to take care of. How I would finally be free from the burden of taking care of every single need of a living, breathing person. Do you know what that is like? It is when you no longer matter. Just them and their needs. And I wouldn't have had it any other way. He was so important to me that I wanted him to be pain free, well fed, clean, shaved and tucked into his warm, clean bed. And all of that took up my entire day. And often my entire night. Those of you who have been caregivers to a dying spouse, parent, or child know what I am talking about. All of your waking moments (and most of those while you are asleep) center around the needs of your loved one. There isn't any time to think of yourself. And there certainly isn't much joy.
I am a Christian lady and I know that God is looking after me. But sometimes that is hard to see. And most of the time I am not thinking he has given me much to be joyous about. Because when you are at low points in your life it is hard to believe. It is hard to hear people tell you things will get better. I am especially disturbed when I hear those things from people who don't have a clue what I have been through. Because all of us go through this care-giving process differently. There are no two cases that are exactly alike. So just because you have 'done your time' doesn't mean you have any idea what my time has been like. Sometimes the joy is just in having someone listen. I don't need advice. I just need someone to hear me out and not try to talk me out of anything. This grieving process is just that. A process. There is no beginning. There isn't an end. It didn't start the day Richard died. It started long before as I grieved the losses that taking care of him was creating for him and for me. It didn't end on the one year 'death' anniversary or the second year anniversary. And I am going to venture to bet it won't be over at the five year anniversary. And it will always be harder at the holidays. Because he found so much joy at this time of the year is why I am not finding joy right now.
I have started to think of grief as a deep hole. A hole you find yourself in and you need to find your way out. The edges are hard and ragged. You will claw your way to the top and fall back down again. And that will probably happen more than once. You will smile. You will laugh. You will enjoy your life. But you might not have joy! And that is okay! You have to find joy in the tiniest places. That's where I'm going to start. Again! And again! Until it comes easier.
Now if you made it through all of my pathetic whining go over to Kate's Heading Home and join in this writing challenge. I feel better for just putting it out there. But what I'm feeling is not joy. Or is it??