Close and Play
I had no idea how many things I did throughout the day with my eyes closed until Pete died.
When my eyelids lowered and I was in pure darkness, my brain went on hyperdrive, running images of him like a movie, taking me to places we’d been together, playing a tape loop of his voice in my mind, or seeing those last days in the hospital. If I opened my eyes, all that would instantly stop. Like the old Close & Play record players. Close the lid and the music comes flying out, open the lid and it instantly stops. I was a human Close & Play
When my eyes were closed I’d become even more overcome with grief than I was with them open. Tears would flow virtually instantly. So in yoga class, near the end when you lie on the floor in repose with your eyes closed––I am the one in class, on my back staring straight up at the ugly drop-ceilings, for if I even try to close my eyes, I will flashback to when Pete would go to the gym with me and wait outside of the door for me to come out of yoga. For five minutes I stare upward, worried that the yoga instructor is going to walk through the room and remind me to close my eyes during this period. She never did.
Meditation was out. At a time when I needed it the most, it was impossible unless I meditated with my eyes open. In fact, my daughter Sean and I went to a mediation center where they recommended doing it with eyes lowered, but open. I only went once because I’m not much into group meditation, but it helped to know that eyes open was an option.
Often my eyes were closed in the shower. We discussed that here before in the essay Showers. That had to end––not the showers, but the closing of my eyes.
Even sleeping, the most obvious eye-closing event in anyone’s day. I make sure that I’m already half asleep and exhausted before I climb into bed. No lying in the dark with my eyes closed, first pondering the day, then relaxing, then falling asleep. I make sure that there is the least amount of time possible between pulling up the covers and actually being asleep. I’ve gotten quite good at it. I can be out cold in under 5 minutes––at least I think that’s what it takes. I don’t know because I’m asleep.
I’ve noticed a little bit of improvement in this area. Closing my eyes is still something that causes anxiety, but sometimes I can enjoy the pictures I see. I don’t always tear up, but there is a limit to how long I can take it before giving in and opening them. Baby steps.
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