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    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • February 3, 2015 in Columnists

    Dips and waves — reaching for the life preserver again

    The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
    The deeper the grief, the closer is God!
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

    In the past two and a half months, my father died, I lost a precious Maine coon kitten, Michonne, to Feline Infectious Peritonitis, I spent more than 48 hours thinking my globe-trotting husband was dead and tonight, I found out that it’s very likely that Echo, Michonne’s gorgeous brother, has FIP as well, which means my time with him will be counted in days, mostly likely, or weeks if we’re incredibly lucky.

    My father, Robert F. G. Spier who really is smiling here

    My father, Robert F. G. Spier who really is smiling here

    Everybody alive goes through tremendous pain. It’s unavoidable. Even if we hide from it, it finds us anyway and even avoidance brings its own brand of pain because to avoid the pain, we must eschew the blessings and that’s its own desolation.

    What’s more, even if every single painful thing I’ve experienced was somehow compressed into one blindingly agonizing unit, it would still not be a patch on what others in this world go through on a constant basis.

    Still, I can’t really compare pain and it isn’t a competition. It’s my agony, it’s where I am at this moment and it’s going to hurt until I get farther down my path and can start interweaving what will be permanently agonizing with old and new joys. It’s a process that takes as long as it’s going to take and rushing it has never been a useful exercise.



    At least my husband isn’t dead, although I suspect there was a moment when he wasn’t rejoicing at being alive as he read the emails I sent him, exploding at him for scaring me like that. Timing, dude. You knew about at least two of those three anguishes, so really? Really? You thought disappearing for two days was a good idea? I called the fecking embassy, for petes sake! (Good thing he’s so fecking cute…)

    But I digress.

    I’ve written before about how life goes in dips and waves and where I got that particular insight – the 1981 film “The Four Seasons,” which starred, among other luminaries, Alan Alda and Carol Burnett (watch it, trust me – it doesn’t age). They were talking about how love goes in dips and waves (it does), but in an explosion of an epiphany, I realized that this concept extrapolated handily to life in general. It was a pretty gorgeous realization at which to arrive at age 26 and it’s stood me well over the last 33 plus years. Life absofeckinglutely comes in dips and waves, sometimes to the point where you can’t see the light for the depth of the dip trough – sometimes where you’re blinded by it when you crest a 20 foot wave.

    This qualifies as a dip and then some. It hurts. It stops me. It fuzzes my brain and makes my computer tech job even more challenging than it intrinsically is. Sometimes it stops the words I should be putting on the page. Sometimes, as now, it creates a veritable fountain of them.



    The very first column I wrote for iPinion was “Just keep walking” (http://ipinionsyndicate.com/just-keep-walking/) and I am trying to remember those lessons. I have been to this place of anguish and grief before. This is in no alien terrain – I know it all too well. Thus I also know that if I keep slogging through it, I will eventually emerge onto firmer ground. This degree of constant agony can’t sustain itself. Eventually it will slow to a dull ache and after that, I will start finding joy again. Does it make my current state of grief better? Not really, except I do know I’m not stuck here. The first time around, when AIDS took my brother (http://ipinionsyndicate.com/pavane-for-a-stolen-brother/ ) and then my unborn son, grief of that magnitude was uncharted terrain. I had to learn the skills of it (http://ipinionsyndicate.com/grieving-like-a-child-was-my-path-to-healing/ ). It’s sad that I had to, but it’s a good thing. Grief either approaches as I watch or slams into me sideways without warning, but either way, I look at it and say, “Oh. It’s you. I know you.”

    And I do. I know what to do. Grief is a skill like any other. I pull it out now when I must and I move through the familiar stages until I arrive where I was before this latest loss hit – mostly. I’m a little sadder overall – grief is cumulative – and I’m a little more scarred. But on the other hand, I know how to look for blessings, to remember to be grateful for what I can – like having had that person or creature in my life at all.

    So, for now, I will hold my kitty boy close to my heart. I will be kind to those who also loved him – his dear and beloved breeders who were so generous to give Echo and Michonne to me – and who have assured me that I didn’t fail either them or my kitties. I will remember my father with love, a little regret, some humor and slight annoyance and infinite forgiveness. I will savor what I have been given because I have, once more, been reminded that everything we have is temporary except for love.

    That, thank mercy, is permanent.

    This is dedicated to Lynn, Susan, Wolfie and Nicola, all of whom conspired to give me this beautiful time with two of the sweetest fur beings I have ever known.


    • Oh, I can remember years when there seemed to be grief swirls… too many things and I’d go round and round until the cycle stopped. I HATE that the feeling is familiar – mainly because I know how long it takes to stop.
      And kitties – *sigh* – sometimes pet deaths are the worst… because they are so innocent, so trusting, and they don’t understand why they hurt, and even worse, why you won’t make it stop.
      Hang in there… the swirling will end. Just don’t drown while you’re going ’round.

    • Sorry for your losses. I get it.

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