Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome to Living Through It

Clint and our sweet friend, Deidra, at a Red Cross Fundraiser

Hello, and welcome to Living Through It.  I am Claudia Schlottman, and proud and honored to have been chosen by Pam and Sandy to be the Blogger of Note on their wonderful site Words of Wisdom for Friday, June 25.  These good souls have created a safe place to showcase good writing, and I am happy to be here!  So grab their button and start reading good stuff.

Let me tell you a little about me.  I am 62 years old, a widow for one year,  after being married to the Love of My Life almost 35 years, and I began this blog two months after my husband Clint’s death on June 8, 2009.  After his death I was unable to write anything, though I have been writing for years.  I live in the Heat Belt of Middle Georgia with my two dogs, Belle, a Boxer,
and Honey, a Lhasa Apso.

I’m an RN planning to go back to work in Hospice very soon.  My mentor is Rosemary Daniell, in whose ongoing writer’s workshop for women, “Zona Rosa,” in Savannah, I have participated off and on since 1996.  Oh, and I have participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer since its inception in 2004, and I have raised over $30.000.00!!

I chose to link you to this blog because I have finished it believe it has a beginning, a middle and an end.  It tells the story of my painful journey in search of myself without Clint in my life.

Here are three links to posts I believe to be representative of my work.  I hope you enjoy them and decide to follow me as I continue to learn and grow.

One of my recent poems - there are others!

Frozen Heat

Two Weeks from Hell Part - 5

In Dreams

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Final Edition

I started this blog last year as a way to cope with the loss of my husband, Clint.  I have used it to rant and rave and cry and even smile sometimes.  It's time to move on from this blog, so I reversed it for anyone who wants to read my story from the beginning.  I reversed it by hand, so I lost my followers and my comments.  Please feel free to leave a comment, if you wish.  I will be checking in.  To those who followed me in the past, thank you from the bottom of my heart for you words of encouragement.  

I will continue to express my thoughts and emotions on my other blogs, which have links on this page.

Caution!  You will find a few cuss words here, and a wee bit of sex, so if a little cussing and a wee bit of sex isn't for you, I'll see you another time.


Dear God

Dear God

Written August 2, 2009

Dear God (or whoever is in charge of this screwed up universe), How can you do this? How can you take away my husband, my best friend, my lover of 35 years? Don't you understand that I will never reach across the bed in the middle of the night and touch him, just to know he is there? I will never see the look in his eyes when he says he loves me. I will never feel his arms around me when he sneaks up behind me at the kitchen sink to cop a feel. I will never know his embrace, never spoon with him, never feel his hands on me or breathe the same air as he. I'll never wash his back again, nor will he mine. Who will I pour orange juice for in the mornings? Who will walk on the beach with me at night and kick the water to make it sparkle? What am I supposed to do with this, you monster. Why? What else do you want from me, you SOB? You have my father, took him before I could even know him. You took my mother, drove her insane with grief. Remember Harry, my big brother? The one you took when he was only 14? You took my baby brother John before his boys could grow up. You took my best friend 13 years ago, and now the love of my life. Will you ever get enough of my people? Who will you go after now? My only living brother? One of my dogs? What will it take to satisfy you? My darlings Kristy and Gretchen, the stepdaughters who turned into my best friends? You already have my only son, lost to me to schizoaffective disorder. I am so mad at you. I hate your guts, is what I do. And don't try to placate me with platitudes about how Clint died peacefully and with grace and dignity. HE'S STILL DEAD, YOU BASTARD. And so are the others.

Cocktail Cruise


Cocktail Cruise

The other day, I took my dog, Belle, in the car with me (she likes to ride shotgun) and we rode around town stopping at shop after shop doing tacky little errands, the ones that I keep putting off. Honey, my other dog, was being groomed, and I could not make myself go home. It was 6PM, one of the hardest times of my day, so I just kept driving. It rained some and Belle's face got wet from hanging out of the window. I made myself a traveling cocktail before I left home and even stopped at the house once for a refill. So, there I was, cruising around town having drinks with my dog and breaking several laws, I am sure. I wanted to keep driving, could see Belle and me traveling north toward the north Georgia mountains, a cigarette between my fingers, radio blasting seventies songs, anything to stop thinking about my empty house. No Clint. But then I wondered where I would go, where I really wanted to go. God knows there are enough holes in my life, so I couldn't imagine abandoning Honey. And when I gave it serious thought, what I really wanted was to go home and find Clint where he should be, not in the pottery jar sitting on the hearth. There he sits, a pile of ashes all packaged up in a hand-slung pot. He's like the Tar Baby. No matter what I say, he just sits there, mute. But he's there. My therapist thinks it's wonderful that I am so angry, says it will help me survive this hell. I think she is full of crap. I'll never be the same, don't want to be the same, not without Clint. I have to learn how to be another person, but how do I do that? How do I switch off the hurt? Jesus. I've tried all the tricks I can think of. I have knitted until my vision is blurred and my hands ache, then pulled out the project for no reason other than I want to, that it gives me something to do, something destructive to do. I have played new age music and done yoga and tried to meditate and pray. Pray? For what? I want to hit somebody. I want to throw dishes and wield a baseball bat at my car windshield or into my bathroom mirror. I want to jackhammer the bathtub where Clint took his whirlpool every day and fell asleep, nearly always dropping his newspaper into the water. I want to stomp the peace lilies, the "Here, have a plant since your husband is dead," lilies. What an amazing tradition. I hate those things, don't know why I planted them in the first place. Did I really think it would make me feel better to see them every day and remember that the only reason I have them is that Clint is DEAD? I smoke way too much, even smoke those obscenely long fags that remind me of an all day sucker for adults stupid enough to smoke. I didn't smoke so much before - just a few a week. Now I can't get enough poison into my body.

Only the Beginning

Early Monday, the day he died, when I said "I love you," Clint opened his eyes and said he loved me back. As the day wore on, he stopped responding, but he opened his eyes to let me know he could hear me. Later, when the death rattle was so bad the others could not bear it, I had him all to myself. I lay beside him, leaned into him and put my lips to his ear to say how much I loved him, how desperately I would miss him. I said he made me the happiest woman in the world and that I was strong and would be all right. I said I knew how tired he was and that it was okay to let go, to leave. I put a cool rag on his forehead because he was burning with fever, and I touched him gently because I knew his skin was hurting from the fever. I cried. I cried and kept saying how much I loved him and how I would be okay. After a while, he didn't open his eyes any more and I knew he was in a coma. But I kept talking to him, whispering words of love and sadness. I know he heard me. I just know it. His breathing was hard but I put little drops of morphine under his tongue so he could be more comfortable and not struggle. When he drew in the breath that he could not breathe out, I lay my head on his chest to listen for his heart. It was quiet, the last sign of life gone. My tears splashed onto his sweater and I heaved with sadness and at profound sense of emptiness rolled over me. I kept listening, but his heart did not beat again. I thought that was the most terrible moment of my life, the most painful thing that I had ever endured. I lay with him a moment then had to let the nurse have him while I went to tell the others, say to them that Poppy was dead, lost to us forever. We wept together, and we wept on our own. Only an idiot would say how they felt. I only know how I felt, but I do know how they looked, how they acted - wounded and confused and blank-eyed and afraid. I went back to be with him one more time, happy for him, glad he was no longer struggling, relieved he had no more pain. I thought the worst was over, but that was bullshit. It was just the beginning. I had no understanding that my life was poised at the steps of hell, that the worst was yet to come and that it would keep coming for days and weeks, longer. I didn't know I had lied when I said I was strong and would be okay. I'm not strong. I'm not okay. He's been dead for two months, and I get sadder every day, miss him more, plead for him to somehow come back, ache with emptiness, rage at God for taking him away. I am not strong. Maybe I will be one day, but it's not today.

I have been weeping for 3 days, that is, when I'm not sleeping - 12 hours at a stretch - or watching really old reruns of NCIS that I've seen what seems like dozens of times. And I'm wobbly, not dizzy but off balance much of the time. It's frightening. I thought it might be one of my medicines for anxiety so I stopped taking it, and it's a little better, I think. I can't hold on to anything. Yesterday, I spilled coffee on my bedside table. This morning, I spilled coffee on my knitting chair. Things just slip through my fingers, and I put things down without looking and they end up on the floor. I feel crazy as snot, distracted, out of it. When I woke this morning, both my arms and legs were aching. I'm familiar with these things. I've been depressed before. Today I knelt by the hearth in front of Clint's ashes and wept until there were no more tears. Lisa called me, and the sound of her sweet voice made me cry. I don't want to talk to anyone, or for that matter see anyone, not even my best friends. How long can I go on like this? No one can live forever feeling like this. I start knitting projects and then pull them out, just to be destructive, I think. I'm still begging Clint to come back, telling him I lied when I said I was strong enough to do this. I'm not. People want to know "Are you o-KAY?"
I want to punch them in the face and say "Hell, no." How in god's name am I supposed to be okay? Parrish is a constant worry, but he's not the reason I'm insane. He says he will stay in Miami until the end of the year. I was depressed and crazy before Clint died. I'm just crazy, I guess. These few days, I have felt as though I were walking in hip-deep water, struggling to get where I'm going. I went to supper with the family last night, but I should have stayed home. I was unhappy around so many people. I wanted to be home in my bed with my dogs. I'm crying right now. Mama never let me cry, so I guess these are all those years of unshed tears. I wonder how much of this pain is about Daddy. He died when I was 6, and at that young age, you have not idea what you've lost when a loved one dies. I never got to know him. I grew up fatherless, if there is such a word. Are some of these tears for that? I never felt cheated before, but now I resent like hell that I had no father to do things with me, teach me how life works, tell me stories, punish me when I needed it, walk me down the aisle, dote over my baby Parrish. Why? Why do I have to suffer this way? I'm still angry, really angry, angry to the point of being irrational. There's nothing rational about this, nothing.

When Clint was alive, we kissed each other" good morning," every day - even if we had to hold our breath. These days, I have one of my favorite photos of him as my computer wallpaper, and each day when I turn it on, I kiss my fingertip and hold it to his mouth in the picture. This morning, still crying from yesterday and the day before, I ran my fingers all over the screen, hoping to reach in and touch his sleeve, his face, take a sip from his glass of wine, make a physical connection. I still can't believe he's gone forever. I held his red sweater close like an insecure toddler holds his blanket. I held the sweater, rubbed it against my face and wept and begged him to come home until it hurt too much to keep it up. Every couple of days, I splash the sweater with some of his Old Spice, keeping it smelling almost like him. His smell, the real smell of him, is gone. I'll never smell it again, so I have to make the Old Spice do. I was sad all day, alleviating some of the pain by working around the house. Hell, I even vacuumed behind the sofas in the den. When five o'clock came, I took the dogs for a ride - up to Forsyth and across to Gray, then back down to Macon, cutting through Shirley Hills to look at our old house on Twin Pines. I don't know why I wanted to see it, but I don't understand a lot about my behavior these days. The dogs loved the ride and it got me out of the house without having to deal with any humans. We had thunderstorms earlier in the afternoon, so they were scared for a while. It was good to make them happy. I want to be happy one day, but not yet. I'm just not ready to let the pain go. I need it to feel alive. As indescribably miserable as I am, I haven't had enough.

The More You Have Lost

The More You’ve Lost

This afternoon, when I asked my therapist, Ann Carol, how long I would have to endure this pain and emptiness and rage, she said, "The more you've lost, the harder it is and the longer it takes to work through it." I wanted to hit her, drop onto the floor and have a screaming tantrum and throw things and scream at the top of my lungs. She knows what I have lost, and the look on her face was one of anguish for me. She lost her husband many years ago, and I could see the residue of that loss on her face. Shit. Is there ANY hope for me? Why can't I just start doing things and going places and asking people to come over for drinks? I simply cannot make myself seek out the company of anyone except Kristy and Nancy and Gretchen, if she were close by. The longer Clint is gone, the harder living without him becomes. I sometimes kiss the top of his urn and then tell him to go to hell and ask him why he had to leave me, keep drinking when he knew it would kill him. The selfish sonofabitch loved wine more than he loved me or anyone else. How does that happen? When I left Ann Carol's, I went to Stein Mart to buy some panties big enough to stretch over my wide ass, and I saw Diane Carson there. She's a lab tech at the hospital, and she worked with and loved Clint for years. She told me how, twice, when she had kidney stones and her insurance would not cover the whole expense and she couldn't pay the difference, Clint told her not to worry about it, that he wouldn't bill her for more than insurance would pay. How can a man that fine and generous and loving and caring KILL HIMSELF with alcohol? Somebody please explain that to me. I feel so cheated and at the same time, I love him so much it makes me ache all over. I don't think I'll ever figure out how to live without him. I will never be the same, never. How many times have I said that to myself?
The Walk

One day, Ann Carol asked me if I remembered the moment I fell in love with Clint. I fell in love with him before I ever saw his face. He was walking across the cardiac unit toward Room 4. Coming out of the nurses' lounge, I looked up and was dumbstruck at his gait, not quite a swagger, not what anyone could call a saunter, his incredibly self assured posture with no hint of haughtiness. His long legs moved gracefully, crossing the room in only a few steps. It was, quite simply, The Walk. He had the cutest little ass I had ever seen, and when I saw him face-to-face, my knees almost buckled. He was tall - 6'4" - and had the biggest hands I had ever seen and he wasn't wearing a wedding ring. His brown hairline was receding and I found it sexy and wanted to touch it. He looked up from the patient through black horn rimmed glasses, read my name off my name tag out loud and asked if I would take some orders for his patient. He exuded a sexiness of which he seemed completely unaware, a flirty glint in his eye, a half smile tipping up the corner of the right corner of his mouth. There was a spark of sexual energy between us, invisible for sure, but there all the same. I was frightened and turned on and excited at the same time, secretly hoping he would be there the next day. The next day came, and his patient had been transferred out. It would be months before I saw him again, but without even knowing it, I had already fallen in love. When I ran into Diane, she looked at me and said, "No man in the world ever had that walk like Dr. Schlottman. He was tall and handsome and full of himself, and that walk made him so sexy. I saw you together many times, and I never saw a man look at a woman the way he looked at you. You have been loved deeply, and I know how you must miss him. I can't even imagine him being sick, and I'm glad I never had to see him that way."

Are You There?

Lately when I wake, either in the morning or after a nap, I have the sense of someone sleeping next to me. It's always either Clint or Kristy or Gretchen. It's not an uncomfortable feeling but rather a sense of deep disappointment that no one is there. Doesn't take a shrink to figure that one out. Maybe it is their energy, working to heal me. I'm not ready to be healed. I need to be sad and mad longer. How much longer? How the hell should I know? I do know that I am still wounded at my core, lonely beyond belief and mad as hell. I threw a platter onto the driveway on Monday. It was one of my favorite things - a blue hand fired fish with a built-in dish for dip. We always had crab dip in it. I stupidly put it in the dishwasher, and the little bowl cracked and chipped. I can't be in my right mind. I do things without thinking. When I found the broken platter, I took it outside and threw it on the driveway, and when it didn't break into enough pieces, I picked them up and threw them repeatedly until there was nothing but a mess of chards to sweep. It was just a thing, but now I wished I had used it more, enjoyed it more while I had it. I want to break some more things. Maybe I'll buy a baseball bat and go find a junk yard where I can hammer old cars, beat the living shit out of them. Here I sit, in this big bed, right here in my place, propped up on pillows, and on the other side of the bed is nothing but a pile of pillows. Belle will probably jump up and sleep over there some time during the night. I think she's still looking for Poppy, too. I'm smoking and drinking too much, and I don't care. Why should I give a shit? When we moved back into this house a little over 2 years ago, I started using my "good" things - china and silver and linens and crystal. I am so glad I did that. Poppy liked good things. Donnie came this week to repair the wreckage and do some touch-up painting where Poppy had had little wrecks around the house in his wheelchair. Clint HATED that he scarred the walls and doorways. Now that I am the only one here, I never intend to eat or drink from anything that falls into the "everyday" category. Hell, I might not be here tomorrow. Maybe god wants me next. Shirley (the first wife) is an ingrate and rude to boot. Today, after I paid her alimony for 2 months when I didn't have to, while she waited for her life insurance check, she sent Bert over here with a check in a green envelope with my name on it. Nothing else. No thank you or kiss my ass - just a check. Bitch. At least she is officially off my payroll, and I know that would make Clint happy. I have completed all the notes about Clint's death, the thank-yous and all that shit. There are still a few people I want to call. My eyes are hurting and so is my heart. I need to cry some.