Counseling was definitely a first priority when we arrived back in Cleveland. We reached out to the Hospice of the Western Reserve, they have great grief therapy programming. It just took a short interview over the phone, and I was booked for my first one-on-one grief counseling session at the end of the week.
The next order of business was exercise.
The Comforter (mom) had had knee surgery several months prior. Since then she had been going to physical therapy at a place called SportSpine. They also have a personal training component there. Mom decided this would be a good compliment to my counseling and she treated me to my first six personal training sessions.
On my first day at SportSpine I had terrible back pain. I sat for my fitness consultation with Marcus, the owner, and I told him about my pain. He put his finger on my shoulder and applied pressure, and within seconds it was gone. Then I proceeded to have a challenging hour-long work out with a trainer named Roberto. Roberto made me work hard; we did a scrambled muscle memory routine with interval sprints in between each circuit. The challenging workout was what I needed, focusing on my physical fitness helped me stay present; and the endorphins boosted my energy.
Mom was right, this was going to help.
The focus needed during my personal training sessions took my attention from my self pity. I felt like Kesner was there with me, cheering me on, pushing me. He had been so into his own fitness at one time. Friends would tell me how they’d seen Kesner running with intensity and passion. By the time we were together, he didn’t work out as much. I thought it was because of the campaign but it was probably because his body was tired. But he was still so solid and so strong, Kesner was very very fit.
Working out made me feel connected to him. When I ran I felt like he ran with me. My summer membership at SportSpine was a great idea and it helped that Marcus and Roberto were tall and handsome like Kesner.
I also had my reconciliation coffee with Tasha that week. We met at Starbucks. She looked the same to me but we were both different. In the time since I’d seen her last, she’d been married, had a baby, gotten divorced and had to fight the custody battle of her life. In many ways, we were both the wounded walking and our trials brought us back together. We listened to each other over coffee. I was glad to not have the worst story at the table, for once. Things had been bad for both of us, but we had one thing in common: we were still here.
I also had a nice dinner with Lynnette Jackson that week. Lynnette had been my babysitter growing up. I saw her at the Links convention and she’d offered to take me out to dinner the following week. We had tapas and she listened to my love story, I thought that was so nice. I appreciated any opportunity to talk about Kesner, it seemed like people were beginning to stop asking me about him. I guess they thought that maybe if they didn’t bring him up then I would eventually forget the whole thing happened.
I was thankful for my time with Lynnette.
And then It was finally time for the main event, counseling 101. I went to my first session directly after leaving my second physical training session at SportSpine. I had on my athletic gear and I was an absolute emotional mess. I started crying as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. The crying never stopped and it followed me into the waiting room and then the counseling room where I waited for Monica.
I’d expected an older woman in business casual or a suit perhaps, but Monica had on shorts and Teva sandals and she looked to be about 30. She carried a water bottle and wore a bandana on her head; she violated my expectations…
Her energy was kind.
I couldn’t stop crying.
We had some paperwork to fill out and I cried through that. Then she asked me to tell her what happened and I cried through that also, but I got it out.
“Wow, so you are experiencing two things at once: the shock of finding a dead body and the grief of loosing your boyfriend. You’re balancing missing him with sheer and utter horror.”
Yes! I thought. She had given me language for what this was. I went on to tell her about the funeral and how I’d felt so disconnected from the family and so scarred by the eulogy.
“Disenfranchised Grief” she called it.
Yes! I thought. I hadn’t known there was a term for it. It meant that I was not alone, someone else had felt this way before.
Monica went on to tell me that Grief is like a wave. Sometimes you are in the calm part of the wave and everything is ok, and then other times you get swept up and it takes you under deep. And you can’t see anything but darkness.
She told me that the emotions of grief are that unpredictable and that I should be gentle with myself as I grieve. I should allow myself to live into what I’m feeling and not try to resist it. It helped so much to hear that, it began to explain how irrational and awkward I’d been behaving. It was all a wave.
I began to trust her. I would definitely come back next week.
Before I left I wanted to tell her about this pack of cigarettes I’d purchased. I bought it after the Links convention and would go to horseshoe lake and smoke one-a-day on a park bench there. I hate the smell of cigarettes, but this activity was relaxing to me. She suggested that perhaps it was the breathing pattern that I was drawn to. “Try breathing that way without the cigarette. Deep inhale, light exhale. Its called meditative breathing.” That hadn’t occurred to me. I would try that.
I walked out of counseling better than I came; but before getting in my car, I sat for a moment on the curb to cry a little more. I pulled out the box of cigarettes when I remembered what Monica told me. I threw them away in that moment and I breathed. I sat on the parking lot curb in my gym clothes and breathed in and out until I calmed down.
Then I looked around.
There were yellow flowers everywhere.
The parking lot was lined with daffodils. They were beautiful. I laughed to myself.
The day after Kesner died, Talithea had gone to the grocery store and she was gone for two hours. When she came back she said it took her so long because she was having an argument with Kesner in the store. Apparently his spirit had come to her in the store and told her ”buy Kim some yellow flowers and tell her she’s my Sunshine.” She had an argument with him and decided not to do it. She was angry at him for dying, we all were.
But looking around that lot I thought to myself: well he found a way to get me my flowers..
Kesner is here.
And with that I smiled, got off the ground, and got in the car and drove home. Grief is like a wave, and I was back in the calm part.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011