Good Grief

Sometimes I am caught unawares by the shock of death.

Even thirteen years later, I still grieve.

It catches me in odd moments.

Like today, watching the Monk series finale.

Where, eight years after the show ended, I have my own Monk moment.

 

*

Monk was a silly crime dramedy about a detective so torn by the death of his wife, he is unable to function without a massive number of coping skills that seem laughable to the world around him. These mechanisms for survival include: obsessive compulsive neatness, rigid need for control and cleanliness and order.* These tics are detrimental to his mental health and impede his ability to work in a normal job. They make for funny television, but a miserable reality.

I never saw the series when it was running. Back in 2002 I was living in Chicago, alternately trying to be a teacher and trying to get pregnant and failing at both. Then I succeeded in pregnancy, but completely tanked at teaching. But I had a husband and a son, so I kept going.

Until 2005, when my husband died.

And I stopped.

I stopped functioning, except at a nominal level where I met basic needs of my son and I cocooned myself from any changes that meant I had to face life.

I missed the entire span of the eight Monk seasons and only stumbled on it in its rerun afterlife where nothing ever truly dies.

And, today, I got to watch Adrian Monk resolve the death of his wife.

The scene that no one else probably thought two cents about was the fact that Monk couldn’t sleep in the center of his bed. He hugged the side, leaving room for Trudy, the memory of his wife forever impressed on her side of the bed.

When all the secrets are revealed in the last episode, the series is wrapped up in a tidy bow. Monk is sleeping, stretched out, in the center of the mattress and is seemingly unaware of the change in his rituals and patterns of behavior that have subsided with the peace of finally knowing. He is able to go on.

I still sleep on my side of the bed. I have never moved from it, no matter what bed I choose. It is probably just habit. A comfortable placement of nearness to the shelf where I put my glasses. The fact that I can only sleep facing one direction.

But it’s true, I can’t move to the center of the bed. Even if it is a small twin-sized mattress. I cling to the edge as if it were a thread from the past. Where I shared a space with someone else.

And that never goes away.

So, today, I cried. Because I remembered.

And never can forget.**

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I am not like Monk. If anything, I am the anti-Monk. I do not clean, and obsessively hang on to everything, creating piles of junk that might possibly qualify me for a hoarders episode. I do however have an obsessive compulsive need to watch television that makes me cry, apparently.

**And the next day my period started with a raging bang. I suspect I was also a target of my hormones.

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Good Grief

  1. Another beautifully written glimpse into your world, you have always seemed to me as such a strong person in spite of all the blows you have been given, I am so glad you found your voice in writing.

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    1. Thank you. It’s somewhat silly, but I’ve always been a little sad to watch the end of a television series, this one just hit a little closer to home than most.

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  2. I loved the Monk show, not least for the times when we experienced the COMPULSIVE element that took the funny out, while simultaneously leaving it in. Brilliant writing. I’m specifically thinking of the time at a crime scene when Monk couldn’t concentrate on the clues because there was bubble wrap that HAD to be popped. The obligatory police pal got irritated and said, “Do you HAVE to do that?” and Monk, looking heart-breakingly haunted, said, “Yes.” The funny bit was when the friend ordered all his troops to stop looking for clues long enough to pop all the bubbles so Monk could be free.

    Personally, I think your clinging to your side of the bed is more like most of us than Monk’s moving to the middle. I’m sorry for your loss. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, you still feel it, and I’m sorry for your pain. ❤

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    1. I’m not normally so maudlin. I was just caught by the momentary recognition that, despite its quirky characters, bizarre-o plot lines, and goofy crimes, the Monk series did strike one true note about grief and loss. At least, it did for me. And maybe that’s what redeemed the series from being more than a shlock-fest of pratfalls and OCD jokes. The actor has a face to express the ranges of sorrow the heart feels. Now, whenever I see Tony Shalhoub in anything else, he will be forever Monk to me. Deep down inside.

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  3. I feel for you, K ❤ That was so honest and lovely, but I'm sorry it comes from your loss.
    I will not compare my husband's long military absences with your husband's death, except to say, I do not think I can ever sleep anywhere but on the right for the rest of my life, no matter what happens when. I couldn't do it when he was gone and I think your reserved space is just that, as you say, "Where I shared a space with someone else." It's a sorta sacred space to you, and that's okay. I think there are a lot of people who feel that way. It's got to be up there with the empty place at the table, yeah?
    Mr. Monk is definitely one of my favorites. I never watched it originally, either. I have the OCD and he makes me feel better. I'm glad to know his ending is such a good one.

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    1. I didn’t know you were a ‘wife in the military’—that’s the way it seemed when I served. I wasn’t married, but the wives followed the husbands to each new military base—or, like you, manned the home front in their absence. Even the kids were part of the routine of being uprooted and having to adjust to a new school. I only saw this tangentially, but it was quite a community.

      Grief comes in many forms. Now that I’m a single mom by default, I’m very impressed by moms who take it in on purpose—especially in the military.

      We all deserve medals for valor above and beyond! Hoorah!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And I did not know you served. Thank you!

        Deployments were a glimpse at what single parenthood might be like. Only might, because I did not worry about how to keep food on the table or take a lover, among other things.

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  4. It’s okay to have a good cry. You have so many challenges, and the one person on earth who could love your boy the way you do is gone. And then there is the grief you alluded to of losing your loved one and the connection you had with him. That’s a lot of grief to carry around. You are very strong. You manage to laugh and you are able to cry too. And on top of that, you make us laugh, and nearly cry, I must admit, with your beautiful heart felt writing.

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    1. And the reason I do it (write, that is) is for people like you who lift me up in response! It can be hard on your family if you are always down and oozing grief. Whereas someone who is new to it can share the pain with you, lifting it for a while. Thank you for being there when the loneliness struck hard!

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  5. The more of yourself that you share with your readers, the more I realise what a rod of absolute steel runs through you. Having lost my mother last year, I recognise the way that odd things catch one and press at one’s grief. Being strong and steely helps in life, but doesn’t spare us from those moments. Warmest wishes and thoughts to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a lovely thing to say—all of it. I’ve never felt particularly strong. More of a reed bending so as not to break, kind of strength. But I’ll admit, in recent years, I’ve felt a bit more like the wheat being pounded by a thresher.

      I guess being strong sometimes just means getting back up again to face the pain when all you want to do is curl into a ball and hide. So, thanks.

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    1. And thanks for sharing it with me. It is helpful to be able to just grieve when I need to and let it go when the moment has passed. Like the aftershocks of an emotional earthquake can register for quite a while after the main event.

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    1. It is such a huge thing, grief. It’s so much a part of me, but it’s not something you can see to look at me. Maybe the previous generations had the right idea—to wear black to signify mourning. Now all it signifies is a claim to style or goth tendencies!

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  6. Thank you for sharing this. I’d love to give you a big hug. I’m past periods, but still get teary over things. I’ve been away from WP for a while and happy to find you still here. I love your blog posts.

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    1. Aww, that’s so very nice to hear. I’ve been going through rough times, almost ready to talk about them, but when my posts trickled down to barely one a month, I wondered if my writing mattered. I decided that, since I write for my own pleasure (or measure of pain) that I don’t want to lose my confessional to the world just yet!

      Maybe one day I’ll have said it all and I’ll be done. But not yet. I hope you have found a reason to keep on going as well. Welcome back.

      Like

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