Rollercoaster Blues

By now everybody who knows me is aware that my husband Lowell Masato Uda died about a year and a half ago, of leukemia, actually “acute myeloid leukemia.” There are ways, after being with him more than half a century, I still don’t believe in his death. He was so much a part of my life that for the first 15 months after he died, I could not believe–could not tolerate believing–that he was gone. I always felt he was just in the next room, going to call my name or step into the room where I was at any moment. Of course the reality of his death was inside me–imploding my emotional and spiritual life into a shriveled scrap of scorched flesh.

At moments I’d emerge, semi-conscious, but the pain was too great to stay fully alive and aware for long, and I would huddle back inside myself. I learned to playact being “normal me”–whoever that is–because I finally realized that being with a person suffering with breath-stopping grief is a terrible burden on others. Nobody should have to see this, or know what it is like until and unless they are forced to endure it. It can also be truly annoying for those who are irritated by seeing the emotional pain of others.

I tried talk therapy but quit after three sessions–or just didn’t set another appointment. In fact I knew at the time I left the third session that I wouldn’t be going back. I had figured out that the reason I’d enjoyed the two sessions so much was that the therapist had dogs there, full-size poodles, one brown, one black, and I related to them, comfortable stroking their silky pelts while talking with this stranger. The third time neither dog was present. I was bored.

I concluded that the therapist thought I was relating to the dogs to avoid dumping my secrets on her. Hmmm. My real, deep-down secrets are 0 0 0 0, empty set, empty set, empty set. I learned some years ago, as a child really, that every word I said had to be the truth as best I understood it, because (1) my memory wasn’t good enough to remember lies, so sooner or later I would trap myself; and (2) that lies poison everything. Just imagine if our leaders and everybody’s leaders, and all of us, could only tell the truth someone entitled to the truth (by this I mean, for example, there are some personal truths I share only with the appropriate physician). Or maybe I write about them in a journal.

Lowell was cremated, and the good part of that is I have the “urn,” a lead-lined cylinder about 14 inches high and almost 5 inches in diameter. It’s green and my daughter and I decorated it with flowers and tiny lights. On top are a pair of pewter lovebirds touching beaks. Lowell was especially fond of birds.

Now I’m coming to terms with the reality of his absence. I have quite a few photos of him hanging in my apartment. My fave is the one of him as a small child, barefoot, in overalls and a t-shirt, standing on a rutted road with a huge smile on his face and his eyes almost closed. He looks so happy. He used to say that once upon a time he and I met in a sandbox as little children–but of course we didn’t: he was in Hawai’i and I was in Iowa. But we dreamed our dreams, lived and loved.

I’d marry it again in a heartbeat, even knowing about this part of terrible loss.


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