Thursday, June 19, 2014

Abnormal is the New Normal

This morning, the attorney and I went to the Register of Wills at the county courthouse. We sat down across from a woman who files wills all day long. The attorney, who knew her well, slid Rick's death certificate across the desk, pointed to a box near the bottom of the paper, and gave her a knowing look. My eyesight is good and I can read upside down. He was pointing to the box checked Suicide. My mind imagined their silent conversation, punctuated by eyebrow movements and sad smiles. 

"Look at this poor kid. Her husband killed himself."
"She barely looks old enough to be married, let alone widowed."
"She's so overwhelmed."
"I've seen a lot of this kind of thing lately."

My thoughts were interrupted by the woman across the desk, who actually said, "I've seen a lot of this kind of thing lately." I blinked and was brought back to reality.

Behind me, a couple was at a different desk, applying for a marriage license. Between every question I was asked about Rick, I heard laughter and happy responses from the couple answering the questions I heard with Rick 6 years ago.

I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone, filing my husband's will and having deja vu of the day we filed for marriage. I felt abnormal.

I got the document I need to sell Rick's car so I can pay the funeral bill. I watched the couple smile at each other. I felt abnormal. I needed to verify Rick's social security number, so I pulled his leather wallet from my purse and saw his driver's license staring back at me next to the social security card. As I looked away from my husband's face, I heard the female half of the couple say, "We're so excited!" I felt abnormal.

I slunk out of the courthouse with the attorney, feeling like the last month really had to be a bad dream, because it just wasn't my life. I felt abnormal.

When I got home tonight, I cleaned the house. There are still thank you notes to send and bills to pay, laundry to do, and garbage to take outside. When I opened the downstairs closet to retrieve the vacuum cleaner, I noticed for the first time since Rick died that he had a shirt on the closet shelf in the "Take to the Dry Cleaner's" pile. All of a sudden, I was ecstatic, grabbing for the dress shirt and pressing it to my face. It smelled just like him. Unlike the clean shirts in a neat row in his closet, this shirt had been sitting there, waiting, and I didn't know. I started crying immediately, but I was happy too. It doesn't even make sense. I felt abnormal. 

After my cry, I finished cleaning. I saw a small pile of scrap paper and receipts to throw away, so I picked it up. A yellow sheet of carbon copy paper caught my eye and I unfolded it. It was my copy of the Northampton Regional Emergency Medical Services patient advice form from the day Rick died. After finding his suicide note that day, I collapsed on the floor and called 911. Then I spent the next 2 hours in an ambulance parked in front of my house, crying hysterically, having difficulty breathing, rubbing the sore spot in my chest where my heart was, and begging someone to help me. They had me on oxygen, shielded from any unpleasant views of my house and the people inside and outside. I know all this, because I watched myself vividly as though I was in a movie. I was outside myself, unable to process the trauma, pain, and situation. My memory of that day is very good, because I feel as though I viewed it on a screen.

The carbon paper brought me right back there today. And the EMT's instructions at the bottom of the page brought my whole weird day to a close.

"If you feel abnormal in any way, call 911 or go to ER." Well, I do feel abnormal. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Of course I feel abnormal. Abnormal is my new normal right now. And unfortunately, no call to 911 or Emergency Room is going to change that.


  1. Beautifully written. May peace be with you this evening.

  2. Maybe your friends and all of the people who care about you can be your 911? There are no words which can make things better for you right now and I am pretty much a random stranger, but if I can ever be your 911 I am more than happy to be...I am weewitchy on facebook and my email is I realise we don't know one another but if I could do anything for you right now, I would. Keep blogging, so many people care about you, love and best hugs. Steph XOX

  3. I do not know you personally but your strength shines through in this beautifully written blog. I bet your husband would be so proud of how strong you're being, and touched by this amazing tribute to what the two of you shared. Reading this I am so moved by what you're going through, but I also feel like I know you're going be OK. You are in so many people's thoughts x


Help me feel less alone.