The Sky is the Limit

The Sky is the Limit

Keep in motion. Don’t break promises. Grieving is self-pity, narcissism. Don’t give in. 

Each day I set myself a common goal: to get through the day. Isn’t this the fundamental principle of Alcoholics Anonymous? One day at a time. 

I’m determined to perform one or more activities each day that takes me out of my comfort zone and allows me to feel more independent since becoming a widow. 

August 22, 2011

I drove to the monument office and began looking at examples of gravestone designs. I have two months before the unveiling ceremony—two months to finalize the monument, notify family and friends, and two months to relive the death of my husband. 

The unveiling is scheduled for Sunday, October 23, the date of our wedding anniversary.

I’ve procrastinated for weeks, but today, my day off, I decided to push myself and begin the task. It’s a daunting mission having to decide on the wording and design a gravestone for one’s best friend and lover. How do you put your feelings into a limited number of words, symbols, and dates?

It feels as if my life is moving in a constant slow motion; my feet shuffle as I walk, my arms dangle by my side, my digestive system is off balance, my heart is broken. It’s as if a series of reruns are swirling around in my head; thoughts of a past life, loss, death and dying.  Here it is nine months after my husband’s death and I’m experiencing the events leading up to it as though they occurred yesterday. I feel tense. My stomach is loud and unsettled. I think I’m having a panic attack.

 August 23, 2011

I had asked a widower “friend” to come over this evening and unclog my bathroom sink and tub. On my way home from work I decided to stop at the store and purchase a quart of PRO-STRENGHTH Liquid Plumber Power Gel. Later that night, I put on my pink rubber gloves, the kind that cover your hands and arms up to your elbow, and proceeded to unclog by pouring half the bottle into the sink and the other half into the tub’s drain. Yes, I can read and follow directions. The fumes were toxic, so I turned the bedroom fans on full blast and waited downstairs for the drain cleaner to take effect.  After 30 minutes, I ran warm water down both drains and voilà, like magic, I fixed the problem. . . . .at least for now.

August 24, 2011

A UPS driver walked up my driveway with two bulky packages in his hands. When he saw me, he smiled and said, “I have one for you.” He handed me the large package and I thanked him with a big grin on my face. I hadn’t had a gift mailed to me since my husband was mobile; since he was able to drive or walk. Since he was able to bike to the grocery store or walk to the shopping center near our house—since he was disease free.

I jiggled the box from right to left and noticed how light it was. I knew I hadn’t ordered anything to be shipped here, so it must be a gift. But from whom?  I brought it into the house, set it on the counter, and reached inside the kitchen drawer for a sharp knife. I began to cut along the edges of the box and then across the top, lifting up one flap, then the other, being careful not to damage anything inside that might be valuable. In between two blown up plastic inserts, I found a review copy of Parkinson’s Disease, a book sent to me from the publisher.  I laughed out loud and in frustration began popping the bubble wrap, one by one, wondering how I could think that someone bought me a gift for no obvious reason. The only person who would do something like that had died nine months ago. What a sad realization to comprehend, the fact that I won’t be surprised ever again by my husband’s thoughtfulness; that I won’t find a gift with silver satin ribbons tucked neatly under my pillow or on the bed where we slept each night. Never again would I let myself be tricked into thinking he sent me a gift. After all, I must stay realistic. Or do I?

I’m not sure what independent deed or action I accomplished on this day. Oh yes, I do remember untangling the silver chain of a pearl necklace that Michael bought me last summer. It was a job often given to my husband as he had the patience and tools to accomplish this task without much frustration. My first thought after noticing the entanglement of knots was to bring it to my jeweler to repair. But then I had second thoughts and wondered if I could sit down, concentrate on the task at hand. Time management in the morning isn’t one of my strong points, so I had to be careful not to be late for work. I was determined to accomplish something I never excelled at. Perhaps I was also untangling a part of my life, which seems to be in small knots that have to continually be undone and straightened out. A life that is often full of stress and problem-solving and fighting for justices that are often unobtainable. Perhaps I was working on something inside myself that needed focus, clarification, and a positive outcome.  

To be continued . . . . .

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About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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One Response to The Sky is the Limit

  1. Carol says:

    Terry, I identify with so much of what you wrote. The untangling of the silver chain does seem what my life has been like since Julian died. The tangles get less and not so close together, but they still come and are still hard to untangle. I don’t think my silver chain will ever be quite the same again. I hope eventually it will be close. Carol

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