Give Yourself Some Grace

Two months gone. Well, eight weeks on Friday, two months on the 20th. Going to the cemetery two weeks ago was tougher than I thought it would be. Sort of the realization that, whatever else happens now, the cemetery and the mausoleum and his crypt will always be exactly the same, every time I visit.

I finished my three free sessions with a grief counselor. It was through Better Help and it was video visits with a nice lady named Jalinda. She’s somewhere in the South, straight, lots of kids. Very sweet. But it wasn’t soul-shatteringly helpful, although she knew what she was doing. It’s possible that I just wasn’t ready for that counseling yet. I’ve already told her that my next step will be to find a local therapist to work on many issues, not just grief. (Not only local, but gay and probably male. It will help to have certain contexts as given rather than having to explain them.)

But she definitely helped and offered some valuable advice. One thing she shared was the image of the ball of grief – representing the idea that grief isn’t one monochromatic emotion. It’s a whole tangle of a bunch of emotions – including anger and relief, and then guilt about feeling those emotions. Certainly relief is a part of my grief – as I’ve told pretty much anyone I’ve discussed this with, I’ve spent the last year with so much worry about Charles and his health, and how that was going to resolve. Well, it resolved in the worst possible way, but resolve it did, and, quite bluntly, I am no longer worried about Charles’s health. That brain space has been now taken up with lots of new things, such as “WTF do I do now”, but at least that constant worry has been removed.

The same with just missing him. Of course I miss him, awfully, but the missing is no more monochromatic than the grief is. It manifests itself weirdly in a thousand ways, like when I appeal to his help in the grocery story to help me find the sunflower seeds. Or the odd mix of feelings when I follow some ingrained house rule about how to do something or take care of something in the apartment and it suddenly occurs to me that the house rule no longer applies. Or grumble when I realize that no one is going to replace the water filter in the fridge but me. Or I finish season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and turn to his picture and say, “Goddammit, dear, you would have gotten such a kick out of this, why didn’t we ever watch this?”

And of course in the middle of the night where I reach out to check on him like I used to do, knowing that I’m not going to find him. But that’s cliché, isn’t it. Can’t have that.

I just finished a book where one character (an aspiring clergyman) tells another, “Give yourself some grace. We’re already forgiven for not being perfect.” I think I needed to hear that today.

So what’s been going on? At home, more of the same – pushing things forward, bringing bags of clothes to the Salvation Army, more inventories and plans. I had 3 air conditioners at the back of our basement storage closet to get rid of – I was going to call the Got Junk people, but Tessa suggested I asked our porters whether they wanted them, and they did (or rather, they said ‘we’ll look at them and we’ll either keep them or throw them out for you.’) I also gave one of them the wheelchair, he’s going to send it to his mother in the Dominican Republic. Isn’t that sweet? I was just going to donate it somewhere, now I have. And that’s freed up space in the storage closet, so I bought another set of utility shelves which I built yesterday. (It then got too hot and humid to bring the boxes down I want to put on them, but no rush.)

Paperwork is moving forward, too – I signed and notarized the petition to submit the will, so that’s in play and at some point I’ll have the letters testamentary that will unlock a whole bunch of new quests. I told you, video games have trained me well. Also things are shaking out with some of the household accounts – sometimes in bizarre ways. I’m still not sure how the decimal point got left off on the first auto-pay of the gas bill, so I paid 100X what the bill was. I didn’t discover that until late Friday, but an email has been sent and I’m sure it will resolve, but jeez. Could have been my dumbassery, could have been theirs. Cell phone bills and cable/internet/phone bills are getting paid, but I’m now in a position to look askance at the bills themselves and think, gosh, there’s probably a way to shrink these. (I will probably cancel C’s cell phone sooner than later, since he really didn’t use it much. I’ve been leaving it on for now, but he’s gotten no phone calls and very few texts.)

Bunthorne Boy and the Viking made their traditional summer trip to the US. They landed two Fridays ago, came to me late enough for just one glass of wine, then we went to bed. Trond left us the next day for Fire Island, but Brad stayed the whole weekend, nice and relaxing and no pressure. I had him inventory the butler’s pantry and china closet, but otherwise we just hung out, separately and together, and had some nice meals. We did go into Manhattan, where a friend of his was running a book booth at a street fair, but that was about it. He left for Fire Island himself on Monday when I started back at work. I saw them again on Thursday when we had dinner with friends of theirs in New Hyde Park, and then again on Friday (dinner here in Jackson Heights) on their way back to JFK. They’re safely home now.

I also have had many phone conversations with my loved ones (I’ve spent more time on the phone in the past two months than the previous 10 years) and another dinner with Tessa (she adopted the philodendron and took that home last night).

And I’m planning travel! I’ve definitely reached the point that none of the apartment stuff is urgent, or even that important any more, and I need to get out. I’d vaguely thought about going to Philadelphia next weekend, but I think that’s not happening – I might go to Susan’s Jersey house instead. Then I have two trips in August – one to visit my brother- and sister-in-law and my beloved nieces, as Sam K and her family are coming in from St. Paul – and another when Tessa and I go up the Hudson to visit Patti and Peter and maybe check out the Dutchess County Fair.

But the big deal is that I’m plotting a Cape Cod trip for my birthday! I’ve never been at all. It started as “oh, maybe I should go to Provincetown for my birthday this year and check it out” and has now turned into probably an entire week, seeing the entire Cape and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Exactly how that’s going to play out is in the planning stages, but my general plan is to rent a car until I get to Ptown, then get rid of it. I can then ferry to Boston and fly home. So that’s exciting! I think it will be an easy trip, off-season, and the lovely scenery and bike rides and antique shops (and drag shows and whatever g-y things are happening in Ptown) will be restorative.

So, yeah. Functioning, not curled into a fetal position under my desk, moving forward. Chug chug chug goes the train.

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