Anne Hamilton’s real-time memoir A FOREVER DECISION, is about her journey through the grief of losing her beloved dog Camilla, and then finding that her Uncle Steve is suffering with terminal cancer. Begun in September, 2012, she is writing this memoir as the real-life events of her uncle’s illness unfold in order to record the grief process and help to heal through engagement in self-expression and community support. As a playwright and dramaturg, Anne has written articles, and appeared on internet and radio shows to speak on the Topic of Healing Through the Arts. For the past few years, she has been writing articles on Open to Hope’s website, which helps people to find hope after the loss of a loved one. This series was originally published there. She is pleased that this memoir is now appearing on the Grief and Loss blog of YourTribute.com.
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A Forever Decision (Part 3)
By Anne Hamilton
On Day 9 after the loss of my beloved Camilla due to a brain tumor, I think it’s important to start the day with love. Whether it’s petting my remaining dog Isabella, or sending love letters to my boyfriend, I feel better when I start the day with something that will last. Because any love given and received is eternal and makes bonds that even death can’t break. And in the future, I’ll feel better knowing that I really showed my love to my loved ones. At least that’s something I can hang on to when the times comes that I’m separated from them.
Today it’s back to work. I feel like I’m betraying Cami, well, the memory of Cami. She is a memory to me now, rather than a living, breathing presence. It takes me four hours to settle down to do something. And then after about 45 minutes, I feel sick to my stomach. I feel like I can’t dramaturg another word. I have to stop and I have to go on. I have to go and I have to rest. I have to remember and I have to forget.
I have to move on, and I want to go back. I have to stand up, and I want to lie down. No wonder I feel sick. I give up my efforts, shut my computer down, and prepare to go to a fitness class. I’ve gained weight in the past two years, and it’s time to take care of myself. Maybe the class will fill in a little of the hole I have inside.
Today is Day 10, and the end of my official mourning period. I had a panic attack this morning. Pain started in the middle of my chest and spread across it as I placed my hands on my heart to apply some pressure and maybe stop the spread of the discomfort. I had to stop what I was doing and regroup.
Why was I having a panic attack? What was I afraid of? And most important, what could I do about it? I was afraid of diving back in to work, afraid that I would get overwhelmed, or trapped in a rut of always responding to the needs of my consulting business with no room to step aside and rest. I breathed slowly until the pain went away.
And logging on to my computer and listening to my phone messages, I find that, indeed, it is time to dive back in. There are deadlines. There are plans and promises I’ve made that I have to fulfill. It seems that people need me now more than ever.
It’s good to be needed. Dramaturgy and playwriting are my life’s work, the things that make me happy.
But will I betray Cami’s memory by leaving behind my grief and returning to my daily routine?
As I ease back into my day, I feel somehow that Cami would understand. She was all about being happy. I found some photos of her lying contentedly on piles of blankets on my bed, surrounded by mounds of softness. She loved to run and play, and she was often smiling, or quietly staring into space, thinking deep thoughts. She was inscrutable in many ways, but I do know this. She loved being happy together with me and her sister Isabella.
We had a life that we enjoyed day by day. And I have to start that process over again with faith that my life decisions are good ones, and that I will reap the rewards of my efforts. It’s time for things to go back to normal. I need to move on.
I still feel the comfort that she gave me with her sweet little personality and presence. And I hope that feeling stays with me for a very long time.
Copyright Anne Hamilton 2012
Updated: August 23, 2013