A short story about loss...
|"Is it alright if I smoke? It helps to calm me down." Nora looked anxiously around Matt Prater's office.
"Sure," he said. "But do me a favor and don't tell Mrs. Myers. This is supposed to be a smoke free building and she gets a little carried away with following the rules."
He smiled as he dug a Zippo out of his pocket and offered her a light. Nora dug through her purse in search of her cigarettes. She took a puff inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. She wondered not for the first time, if this was a good idea or not. She wasn't crazy, just depressed, still in the throws of grief over the loss of her mother. She also wasn't sure what people might think about her deciding to see a grief counselor about her problem. It was probably better than going to a psychiatrist. There was not as much stigma attached to a counselor she supposed.
"I haven't been to a counselor since high school and then it was just to get help choosing a good college."
"It's quite alright," he said. "You don't have to be nervous, and you don't have to tell me anything you don't want to. I am here to help you deal with the loss of your mother."
Nora sighed and rustled uncomfortably in her chair. She was not good at opening up to people or letting them get close. Opening up to a complete stranger about things she held deeply personal was not going to be easy, but she decided that she should at least try to. After all, she was there and it was his job to listen. That was what she needed, someone to listen.
"It's been really hard and weird since she died. I am not even sure where to begin except that I haven't been eating or sleeping very well. I just feel very lost. And numb...I don't feel like myself and doubt I ever will feel the same again and it scares me."
"Why don't you start by telling me how you feel this moment about your mother."
"I feel numb. I don't feel anything at this moment." She took another puff off her cigarette. The worse feeling... she thought to herself.
"But tonight when I am alone in that big empty house I am sure I will have plenty of feelings."
"Okay then let's start there. What is a typical evening for you?"
"Well, I suppose when I get home I will think about maybe eating something, and then I will think about the last time I ate, which was probably sometime yesterday or the day before. Then I will decide that I am not really that hungry and I will sit in the living room and watch TV for hours."
She drew another breath through the cigarette. Tears started to roll down her cheeks.
"Then after a while I will start to walk the floors and wail."
"Yes. I don't know what else to call it. I just roam from room to room asking,'Why? Why did you have to die? How could you be gone?' "
"Sometimes I get so loud I am sure the neighbors can hear."
"Do you worry about the neighbors hearing you?"
"I worry that they might think I am crazy. Hell, they are already half-way convinced of that anyway."
"Why?" Asked Matt.
Nora fidgeted with her hands. This was a question she did not feel comfortable answering.
"I guess it is because they think I am strange. I mean I never married. I am in my forties and I still live-uh lived with my mother. I mean don't get me wrong, I have had my own place before. I just always seemed find myself in situations where I needed to come back home. I am not that good with money or relationships."
She almost cried as she made the last statement.
"Mom was always there willing to take me in no matter what a mess I made of my life. She always welcomed me home."
Tears did flow after this admission. Matt offered her a tissue from the Kleenex box on his desk.
"Anyway after walking through the house most of the night eventually I will fall into a restless sleep."
"How long would you say you sleep?"
"Oh I don't know a couple of hours maybe. Two maybe three? I don't know. I just know when I do wake up I am exhausted."
Matt scribbled furiously on a yellow legal pad. He looked up at her and watched compassionately as she dabbed her eyes with the Kleenex.
"Listen, we can get the doctor to prescribe you Trazadone which is an antidepressant that helps you sleep. You may also do well with Lexapro. It can help with anxiety and depression."
"No I just need someone to talk to I don't want to take medication."
"Nora you are suffering from Severe Depressive Disorder. This condition did not start with your mother's death, but her death certainly triggered this episode. You said yourself on your initial consultation that you have always been depressed. You came here for our help. Let us help you. If they don't work for you we can try something else."
"I don't want to be a guinea pig. I just want to get through this grief and get on with my life."
"Nora, grief can take years to overcome. It's not going to go away just like that. Sometimes you will feel like you have a grip on it and then sometimes it will plunge you right back down into a hole. And you need to face your depression. It has been with you your whole life. You cannot overcome your depression without help."
Matt looked at her, while tapping a pencil on the tablet he had been writing notes on. Nora knew she had problems with depression but it never debilitated her until her mother died. All this talk about medication made her feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.
"I am just not sure. I mean I know I have felt depressed in the past but I have always managed."
"Well you have come to an experience that you cannot manage your way through. If it were so you never would have come in here seeking help. Am I right?"
Of course he was right. It wasn't as if she didn't have friends or family to confide in. And certainly those who knew her best understood her moods. They certainly understood that she had them. Perhaps he was right. Maybe she should try the medication.
"You know what the worst part of losing her is?" Nora asked.
"Tell me." Matt replied.
"After the funeral when everyone left, and everyone stopped dropping by giving their condolences, the silence was overwhelming. I felt as though I were ghost rattling around that house all alone with no one there. Surely that must be what hell feels like silence and ice cold loneliness."
She got up and walked over to his window and looked out at the sky. She witnessed storm clouds gathering, and thought of how they reminded her of Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.She felt kindred to their grey masses. One darker than the next. Each one threatening in their own right. A storm was brewing outside and inside her. Her heart and soul were heavy with the burden of her personal storm. Sometimes it was raging, sometimes it was calm but all the time it was churning. No light ever came to dissipate her storm.
"Did you know time can stop?" She looked over her shoulder at Matt still sitting at his desk taking notes.
"Please explain," he said.
"Well I mean from the time she started dying that day, until the last relative left to go back home the next week, there was no time. There was no yesterday or tomorrow. There was only the moment. It just seemed like maybe we weren't in time but outside of it. Hell I don't know... I just had no sense of time."
"And do you now?"
"Yes but not in a normal way. Now time for me is an eternal ticking of a clock that holds no beginning or end. Each day just kind of melts into the next."
She crossed the room back to her seat across from Matt at his desk.
"The meds can help you with that feeling. I mean they are not miracle drugs. They cannot make you happy when you are sad but they make the sadness not so encompassing. They can give you a clearer head with which to handle your moods."
"If I try them, these meds and I don't feel they are helping can I stop them?"
"Yes you can. I cannot make you take them only suggest that you do."
Nora let out a slow sigh, "Very well then. Tell the doctor I will take them. If they can help me I am willing to try them."
Next"Grief Part II"