Well, well, well. The squeaky wheel really does get the grease. Yesterday, I received an email from the thrift shop in response to my letter of complaint. The chief financial officer wrote:
“I want to apologize for the unpleasant visit at the "Nothing Be Lost Thrift Shop" on Saturday, March 3, 2007. We expect that all our visitors at the Thrift Shop have a fun, pleasant experience while at the same time being treated in a courteous and respectful manner, while supporting a worthwhile cause. The proceeds from the Thrift Shop are used to offset the cost of shelter for the residents of St. Christopher's Inn, for whom we receive no public reimbursement. The matter should have been handled better by us and will be addressed immediately. In the meantime, a full refund will be provided to you at the address in your e-mail along with a $10.00 coupon for future use. We hope you will return and have much better experience on your next visit.”
I really didn’t think anything would come of my letter, and must say that I am experiencing an unexpected sense of satisfaction. I can’t wait to tell Michele. Today is her birthday, by the way. The Big Five O. Happy birthday, Michele!
I’m happy to report that I have a reason to get showered and dressed today. (Far too frequently, it’s just not worth the effort.) Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend called me last night to ask if I’d go with him to visit my grandmother. Mike and I had a very good relationship. (His mother is an old friend of mine). He and my grandmother really hit it off, too. So, even if Mike is doing this to be manipulative and score points with Rebecca, the visit will make my grandmother happy, and I’m down with that.
In other news, I volunteered to participate in a bereavement study. This study is being conducted by The Centre For Bereavement Research and Intervention at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. “It is designed to investigate the efficacy of a brief e-mail based grief intervention (RELIEF). RELIEF has been developed by The Centre for Bereavement Research and Intervention. It is based both on interventions that have been successfully used with people who have experienced a wide range of stressful life events and on up-to-date scientific bereavement research. RELIEF consists of five different homework assignments which are sent to participants by e-mail. Participants receive one assignment per week for five consecutive weeks and are asked to complete assignments within one week of receiving them. Assignments take 30 minutes on average to complete.”
I submitted my first homework assignment yesterday. The guidelines were as follows: “We would like you to start by thinking back at your loss experience. By this we mean the period between the time you first became aware your brother might die or had died up until and including your brother’s funeral. Then decide for yourself which moments or events during this period have been most significant to you and/or difficult to talk or think about. Try to write down these moments or events in as much detail as possible, including such facts as where you were, what happened, how you felt, what you were thinking, sights and sounds etc. Please note, we do not expect you to write down the whole sequence of events that took place during this period. Try to focus on the most significant moments or events.”
Besides writing about the moments when I first heard that Mark was missing and presumed dead, and then when I received word that his body had been recovered, I also wrote about the agonizing twenty six days before Mark’s body was found. It was like a hostage situation. Every morning, I would wake up and think, “day nine,” or “day twenty,” etc.
One memory of that time before Mark’s body was recovered stands out so vividly. At night, I would sit on my back porch. It was an unusually cold autumn, and I sat there shaking, unable to bear the low temperatures for long. I looked at the moon, and called out to my brother in my head. Then, when I went back in the house, or got in bed under warm covers, I felt guilty because physical comfort was available to me, but not to my brother. I tortured myself imagining that he had made it to land, and was lying on the ground somewhere, suffering from hypothermia. I also tortured myself by imagining him drowning. Oh God, even now I can’t bear the thought because my brother did drown in that cold river, after struggling to get out of his jacket while in the water.
Another image that is clear in my mind is an afternoon when I was lying in bed, too bereft to get up. I kept picturing Mark smiling at me. I kept seeing that twinkle in his eyes. I was looking out the window at the leaves on the trees moving with the wind. It was a gray day, not sunny, yet somehow lovely, even though it evoked a sense of loneliness. As I gazed out the window, it hit me hard that my brother would never again be able to enjoy days like this, or any other. I sobbed myself sick.
I was thirteen years old when Mark and Michael were born. Remembering Mark as a child is more than I can bear, so I try to shove those (and other) thoughts from my mind. It still hurts too much. Nevertheless, I'm hoping that I will benefit from doing these assignments. I'm hoping that my participation in this study will push me out of the safety of denial, force me to confront my feelings about this loss, learn to accept it, and move forward.
Song of the Day: Memories from the Broadway musical, Cats