Learning about limits

Learning to ask for and accept help also means learning my limits and what I can ask of myself.

Writing from Vancouver in 2016

In early June 2016, writing from a holiday in Vancouver, I tell Karl that I cannot continue working on the planning permit for the granny flat. The permit is necessary to guarantee enough money to pay my rent. But my cognitive impairment keeps me from making sense of the forms. I can’t think straight, and I certainly cannot handle statutory planning, which had never been my strength!

The granny flat

I comment, with a touch of gallows humor, “Nobody will die if I don’t finish this granny flat project until I return to Australia and get some help with it.”

I tell Karl at that time a few months after his death that I am on a journey with no destination, no route, no timetable, and no landmarks. I live in perpetual terror that I will suffer from PTS (which, sadly, I do not escape). Exhaustion complicates my reluctance to accept my limitations and to ask for help.

You are safe in my care

However, as I become more open and direct in my requests to Karl, he becomes more forthcoming. By mid-June 2016, I am recording several pages of his advice every morning. One topic concerns him. He cautions me not to be afraid of cars, as our crash did not mean that all vehicles were dangerous:

You are safe in my care, dear Wadie. The important thing for you is to keep moving onwards — and to get better — and feel stronger. Things will get easier when you get back home to Nimbin. You have to listen to your own Beloved, though!


As time goes on, Karl reiterates his commitment to caring for me:

There is no set timetable for recovery from such a shock. Please understand: I know that I am responsible for your pain and grief. I decided to die, after all. I did decide to leave you earlier – much earlier – then you would have chosen. With my fateful decision comes a commitment – for the rest of your life – that I will watch out for you and care for you. That is my promise, dearest Wadie. So please accept that you can call on me.

Accepting my limitations

During my holiday in San Francisco and Vancouver, I do little but rest. And weep. It is much too early for anything more.

On 18 June 2016, I report to Karl, “It is so hard to measure progress in healing from grief — as it is such a roller coaster. Still, I keep at it, diligently and persistently doing the absolute minimum.” The irony of the world’s most committed workaholic seeking to accept (and even applaud) my absolute minimum behavior does not escape Karl. He congratulates me every time I accept my limitations and accomplish less than I intended.

As I seek direction from Karl, and later from others, I find myself accepting his love, support, and confirmation that I am on the right path.

On 19 June 2016, writing from Vancouver, I report:

God came to me last night amid an outburst of tears. It was strong. It stopped the pain and filled me right up.

Later I say to Karl:

When I melted down badly the other day, and then that burst of healing came into me — was that you? Or God? Or what? It was a low point of grief and despair — feeling so sad, alone, and sorry for myself.

Karl replies:

This is a hard time in your life, Wadie, and you are doing great. Just keep plodding on. When you get home to our house in Nimbin, you’ll be surprised. I’ll feel closer, and you will feel better.