I learned a new term today.
Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.
That came from Scott Berinato who quotes David Kessler in the Harvard Business Review‘s article, That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief. Kessler is …”the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss.”
Stages of Grieving
The grieving process we are all familiar with are these 5 stages:
The 6th stage, recently added, is:
- Finding Meaning (I’m just starting this book by the above mentioned David Kessler.)
No Direct Path Through
While it would be so helpful to be able to mark the stages off as I am in one, seeing progress forward towards acceptance and finding meaning in my life and death, sadly, there is no linear means to the relief of pain.
And what has been helpful for me, too, is to know I can feel more than one “stage” at a time. Who knew I could be in the Anger and Acceptance phase together? It has happened more than once since the Pandemic began.
I like this page on Symptoms of Grieving as an adjunct to the Stages. I relate to many of them.
…to going through all the stages, backwards and forwards, up, down and sideways… until the end.
I am sure my writing will reflect a lot of that.
I think I am settled with just about everything in the world. Unfinished work will be taken care of, or not, by the kids. Everyone will go on.
But I want to know about Jamie’s Ghost Watching Claire in Outlander.
Now I was curious. “What exactly did you see?” I asked, settling myself on the dressing-table seat. I motioned to the whisky bottle with a half-lifted brow, and Frank went at once to pour a couple of drinks.
“Well, only a man, really,” he began, measuring out a jigger for himself and two for me. “Standing down in the road outside.”
“What, outside this house?” I laughed. “Must have been a ghost, then; I can’t feature any living person standing about on a night like this.”
Frank tilted the ewer over his glass, then looked accusingly at me when no water came out.
“Don’t look at me,” I said. “You used up all the water. I don’t mind neat, thought.” I took a sip in illustration.
Frank looked as though he were tempted to nip down to the lavatory for water, but abandoned the idea and went on with his story, sipping cautiously as though his glass contained vitriol, rather than the best Glenfiddich single malt whisky.
“Yes, he was down at the edge of the garden on this side, standing by the fence. I thought”—hesitated, looking down into his glass—“I rather thought he was looking up at your window.”
“My window? How extraordinary!” I couldn’t repress a mild shiver, and went across to fasten the shutters, though it seemed a bit late for that. Frank followed me across the room, still talking.
“Yes, I could see you myself from below. You were brushing your hair and cursing a bit because it was standing on end.”
“In that case, the fellow was probably enjoying a good laugh,” I said tartly. Frank shook his head, though he smiled and smoothed his hands over my hair.
“No, he wasn’t laughing. In fact, he seemed terribly unhappy about something. Not that I could see his face well; just something about the way he stood. I came up behind him, and when he didn’t move, I asked politely if I could help him with something. He acted at first as though he didn’t hear me, and I thought perhaps he didn’t, over the noise of the wind, so I repeated myself, and reached out to tap his shoulder, to get this attention, you know. But before I could touch him, he whirled suddenly round and pushed past me and walked off down the road.”
“Sounds a bit rude, but not very ghostly,” I observed, draining my glass. “What did he look like?”
“Big chap,” said Frank, frowning in recollection. “And a Scot, in complete Highland rig-out, complete to sporran and the most beautiful running-stag brooch on his plaid. I wanted to ask where he’d got it from, but he was off before I could.”
I went to the bureau and poured another drink. “Well, not so unusual an appearance for these parts, surely? I’ve seen men dressed like that in the village now and then.”
“Nooo…” Frank sounded doubtful. “No, it wasn’t his dress that was odd. But when he pushed past me, I could swear he was close enough that I should have felt him brush my sleeve—but I didn’t. And I was intrigued enough to turn around and watch him as he walked away. He walked down the Gereside Road, but when he’d almost reached the corner, he…disappeared. That’s when I began to feel a bit cold down the backbone.”
“Perhaps your attention was distracted for a second, and he just stepped aside into the shadows,” I suggested. “There are a lot of trees down near that corner.”
“I could swear I didn’t take my eyes off him for a moment,” muttered Frank. He looked up suddenly. “I know! I remember now why I thought he was so odd, though I didn’t realize it at the time.”
“What?” I was getting a bit tired of the ghost, and wanted to go on to more interesting matters, such as bed.
“The wind was cutting up like billy-o, but his drapes—his kilts and his plaid, you know—they didn’t move at all, except to the stir of his walking.”
We stared at each other. “Well, I said finally, “that is a bit spooky.”
Frank shrugged and smiled suddenly, dismissing it. “At least I’ll have something to tell the Vicar next time I see him. Perhaps it’s a well-known local ghost, and he can give me its gory history.” He glanced at his watch. “But now I’d say it’s bedtime.”
“So it is,” I murmured.
Ms. Gabaldon (“Herself”) said the riddle of Jamie’s Ghost will be explained in the last line of the series. She is writing Book 9; I have read all 8 and am in love with the Outlander Series, too.
If I had a dying wish, it would be to know how it ends.
I had a really tough day yesterday.
I See It Coming
I kept “seeing” me dying, could see it clear as day. Can see it clear as day.
I thought about my kids whom I love so much. My grandkids who will not know their Nanny (as they call me) except through anecdotes about how crazy I was. (In a good way.) The oldest might remember me a little bit, but I have had next to zero time with the baby. That breaks my heart. I think about what I want to say to them, but I want to tell them everything. How can I tell them everything without a lifetime together?
I want my kids and grandkids to know how very much I love them and how they will be my last thoughts as I fall into that deepest of sleep.
I think about my own kids who are really just beginning their lives and they will be motherless, unable to ask questions of me about this or that parenting situation. Who will not have a mother with them who says, “I love you,” with every exchange, who calls them at midnight on their birth day to sing “Happy Birth Day to Us.”
…as it is, this life was so short. It really went by in a flash.
I was just starting school at 6-years old, then in band playing flute for 7 years, marching in the Florida heat.
I was partying at the gay bar, then had a baby and married at the same blip in time. Nursing, toddlers, school-aged kids all within a month of each other. Graduations and a marriage… a split second in time.
My life in birth, 32 years long, seems like a blink.
Marriage to Zack, the two we had, hilarious fun, being in the news.
Owning a business that I hated… that time dragged on!
And then the kids were grown. When did that happen?
Writing. Always the writing. Meaning to write books that are now half written, like the rest of the world’s words, a silent bestseller in the drawer.
I can’t figure out why everything went so fast. The time was there… then gone.
And soon, I will be, too. Just gone.
I do not get angry often, but I think with all the stress, it has been building up and came out at my dear friend tonight. My dear friend whose COVID-19 test came back positive today. He has been sick for a week now, but getting better.
What Are People Thinking?
There are older folks, one not in the best health, in the house and one of them went to the hospital to visit someone today. He wore a mask and gloves and I do not know if they let him in at all, but he still went out. LIVING WITH A KNOWN SICK PERSON! What the fuck was he thinking? My friend said the culture demands visits to sick people and somewhere along the way, he went to a funeral at their place of worship. I was apoplectic that he was out there spreading the virus among unsuspecting people. How “helpful” is spreading a virus that can KILL people in your community?! I just don’t get the logic.
I am sure I am not just angry at him. I am filled with horrible evil feelings about that man that lives in our White House. He is so terrible, there really are no words. Lying, leading people to believe things are better than they are. He’s going to end up firing Dr. Fauci, the hero of the entire pandemic as far as I’m concerned.
And that “person” who said old people would surely be willing to die to save the economy?!? Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan… (emphasis mine)
“…Patrick told Tucker Carlson, ‘No one reached out to me and said, “As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?“‘ But if they had? ‘If that is the exchange, I’m all in,’ Patrick said. He continued: ‘That doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country, like me, I have six grandchildren, that what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children. And I want to live smart and see through this, but I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed…I’ve talked to hundreds of people, Tucker, and just in the last week, making calls all the time, and everyone says pretty much the same thing. That we can’t lose our whole country, we’re having an economic collapse. I’m also a small businessman, I understand it. And I talk with businesspeople all the time, Tucker. My heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the president say because we can do more than one thing at a time, we can do two things. So my message is let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country, don’t do that, don’t ruin this great America.”
And he smiled the whole fucking interview!
“…LET HIM BE ‘SACRIFICED’ FIRST! Cough on him. Let him feel the fear the rest of us feel as we live through this without his riches and unlimited toilet paper.”
I turned off the news and put on White Christmas. I think I am done crying for a few minutes.
I have been strangely upbeat the past few days. Even though one of my dear friends is sick and is waiting to see if it COVID-19. We are praying it is negative, but if he got it and that was it, that would be good, too, I guess? Hard to know what to think anymore.
I have not written on any of my books in ages. It’s odd, I thought if I knew I was going to die, I would not take my meds and become manic and write until I dropped dead from fatigue.
Instead, I am writing stuff for work, which is slower than slow, trying to get more clients. With everyone home (no privacy for many), being on lockdown, and the people out of work, paying a sex worker is pure luxury. I am now kicking myself HARD for not saving tons of money. But who could have known?
“As coronavirus spreads, more people thinking about end-of-life directives: Many are considering medical instructions, guardianship designations and other legal contingency plans.”
In the piece, they say:
“…recommends compiling beneficiary designations, life insurance policies, a list of passwords, key contacts, medical professionals and financial advisers in one place so someone who needs access to that information can find it easily.”
A quick search of “Living Will Coronavirus” came up with tons of sites for lawyers doing just that sort of thing.
It was relieving to see I am not alone in my paranoia about “getting my affairs in order.” I never really thought of others being just as scared as I am, but clearly, I am not alone.
I am reading (listening to Audible) at an astounding rate for not listening every waking moment. I try to listen even if only for a few minutes while I’m eating.
In the last couple of months, I have read:
Reading right now: Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston (this JUST came out and I LOVE IT! Love Zora Neale Hurston anyway, but these newly found short stories are amazing)
- The Murmur of Bees and the book in Spanish, El Murmullo de Las Abejas by Sofia Segovia (exquisitely beautiful)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (my favorite book ever ever ever)
- Roughing It by Mark Twain (good, some hearty guffaws, but LOTS of racism)
- Born Standing Up by Steve Martin (great)
- The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning by Steven Pressfield (I barely remember it)
- Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid (a fun quick read.. being made into a movie)
- The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger (LOVED it, but then I LOVE Disney, too)
- The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (fantastic!)
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant , Sheryl Sandberg (LOVED this!!! Wish I had read it in my 20’s)
- Beautiful by Juliet Marillier (meh, not my favorite of hers)
That would take me back to the beginning of January.
Reading, Not Writing
So apparently, I am going to spend my last days reading instead of writing. Have I already put down everything I need to say?
Not quite sure yet.
I’d had a fever off and on all day, a sore throat for 2 days, but I could breathe okay. I called my PCP about 11am yesterday and she said if I still had a fever at 6pm, to call the hospital.
“Go to the Hospital ER”
I did have a fever, so I did call the hospital and after a 20-minute wait, they connected me to the ER and was told to come in.
I’d looked up the hospital where I go (a mile away) to see if they had drive-through testing and the site and the press said they had tents set up for quick testing. This is what I was wanting to do… be tested. I did not want to go into the hospital ER and take up a bed for someone really ill.
So, because I was not being sent to the quick test tent (and there was no guarantee I would even be tested, even in the ER), I made the decision to stay home.
I could sit up and breathe. The fever was gone with ibuprofen (before I saw they said not to take it, and now they say it is okay to take it; MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!). I thought, “what would I go there for?” They would take my temperature and tell me to go home, isolate and come back when I was near death. I decided to bypass sitting at the hospital, filled with infected people.
Instead, I took a nap.
When I lay down to sleep, I often meditate. Yesterday, I had an amazing vision and memory when I slowed my breathing and felt myself settle down.
I went to Kaua’i. Specifically, to Kapa’a on Kaua’i, Hawai’i.
When Zack and I went to Kaua’i and landed in Lahui, when we walked out of the airport, the humidity was similar to Florida, but the scent in the air was intoxicating! Flower scents permeated the area and I was sure the airport was piping the scent out like they do on Disney’s Main Street with the chocolate chip cookie scent.
But they do not. Every moment on Kaua’i smelled like heaven.
As I laid in my bed, meditating and heading towards sleep, I rode my way around the island, seeing what I saw during out week there.
And who could forget the ubiquitous fowl around the island!
When I woke up, I felt much better.
I am so glad I did not go to the hospital.
I was born March 29, 1961. A Baby Boomer was born between 1946-1964. That would be me.
From Census.gov on December 10, 2019:
“Older adults are projected to outnumber children under age 18 for the first time in U.S. history by 2034, according to Census Bureau projections.
‘The mismatch between old and young will have implications across the coming years,’ said Dr. Grace Whiting, president and CEO of the National Alliance of Caregivers.
‘We aren’t having enough children to take care of us in our old age,’ she said. ‘Look at my family: my in-law was one of six children, my husband and I were one of two, and we don’t have kids. Extrapolate that out, and that’s what’s happening nationwide.'”
“So, the younger generations have taken to calling the Coronavirus the ‘Boomer Remover,’ helping resolve the issues of taking care of all those elderly people that are stepping into old age, 10,000 a day.
“Boomer Remover has since become a battleground for generational warfare on social media, frequently couched as a natural consequence of how the Baby Boomer generation has treated the planet or approached politics—either an unfortunate outgrowth of the more conservative brand of politics suggested by Baby Boomer voting demographics relative to Millennials and Generation Z, or a deserved comeuppance for damage done to the environment and/or social fabric. In response, Boomers and Boomer defenders have used the trending term to decry young people’s alleged dependency.”
While I find it sad the term “Boomer Remover” is being used as we die off from COVID-19, the generations after us will definitely have far less of a burden dealing with us old folks.
“The 2030 Problem”
Even the National Institutes of Health calls it the “2030 Problem.” This study begins:
“A series of analyses are used to consider the challenges related to caring for elders in the year 2030: measures of macroeconomic burden are developed and analyzed, the literatures on trends in disability, payment approaches for long-term care, healthy aging, and cultural views of aging are analyzed and synthesized, and simulations of future income and assets patterns of the Baby Boom generation are developed.”
Of course the younger generation sees us as a “burden” (this study uses this word often) if even the government does!
I have had my own YouCanGoHereYouCanGoThere with my kids as we talked about my older years. While they will miss me terribly, I am glad I will not be a burden on them as I become even more disabled and ill.
The last thing I want is to be is a burden.
I have a sore throat, but nothing much else, so not worried so much today. My breathing is good with my asthma meds, no difficulty breathing. Yay!
I slept a lot yesterday and last night. I am “watching” Friends while I sleep and that helps calm me.
I saw pics of Clearwater Beach yesterday and thought I was going to be sick.
What are these people thinking? Clearly they are not. Compared to my cleaning my medications, they seem to be asking for illness.
Temperature: 97.6 – I have not seen it that high in ages. I feel awful. Not hard to breathe, cough seems to have subsided.
…was quite the adventure!
I put on purple Nitriles, packed some Lysol wipes in a Ziplock bag, messaged the Uber driver asking him to please roll all the windows down before I get in the car and then before getting into the car, wiped down handles, the edge of the window (where I always lay my arm) and the seat belt strap and clip.
My drive-through pharmacy is 1 mile away.
My niece went with me and I wiped down anything she was going to touch, too.
We drove the 1 mile, sat waiting for our turn and the Uber driver had to handle the basket tube thing where the meds come from. He put on a latex glove to press the button.
At the Pharmacy Drive-Through
I watched the car before us be given the white basket that holds the acceptance paper and pen and told the guy behind the counter I was not touching the basket or pen and he sent the paper through alone. The driver handed me the paper, I used my own pen, and handed it back to him. He used his gloved hand to put it back in the flying basket thingie and hit the SEND button.
When the bag of my meds arrived, the driver handed it to me and I used a Lysol wipe to wipe down the bag before setting it down on my lap.
Once back home and out of the car, I started to clean off the car and the driver got out and had wipes and Lysol spray and cleaned if for me. I was very grateful he does that between each person. I tipped him good for even driving me to the pharmacy at all! Bless the Uber Drivers.
Unpacking My Meds
When I got home, I cleaned off the table top with a Lysol wipe, changed my gloves and then took each item out of the grocery bag, then out of the sealed plastic bag and cleaned the bottle with a new wipe each time.
After each wipe, I threw it in the garbage bin that has a bag in it. and when finished again, I took my gloves off, turned inside out of course, tossed them into the trash and put new gloves on again and closed the garbage bag and tossed it into the outdoor trash.
Coming in, I washed my hands and then grabbed the Lysol spray can with a wipe, cleaned the button with the wipe, then tossed the wipe and went around the house and sprayed all light switches and handles. I came back into my room, spraying around. Then I put gloves on one more time and used a Lysol wipe to clean my phone and computer keys. I cleaned my pill box top and bottom and after all that was done, I put my pills into my pill box.
I took a nap after that. It was stressful.
And my throat hurts and I have a dry cough. Temperature 97.0 (always low). Just weird nervous. Could I be dead in a few days?
I am sure I am going to die from COVID-19. Two million are expected to die in the US before the emergency has slowed. I have so many pre-existing conditions, I don’t think I will last long if I get it.
I fill 3 of those pieces of pie… the 3 largest.
Prep for the Kids
I made a document for my kids with my wishes for my body (donated to science and students) and with all my information to take care of my accounts and my writings, including the 3 memoirs and 1 psychological thriller going. I wish I could finish at least one, but it does not look like that is going to happen. I also wish I could say I am writing like Hamilton, “like he’s running out of time,” but for some reason, I am more immobilized than anything.
People think I am being morose or dramatic. I believe I am realistic. I am saying my I Love You’s and Thank You’s (to you all here, too!) and really am comfortable knowing my “affairs” are in order.
Meghann or Aimee will post here if I die. I will try to keep writing here at least until we know more.