Something I learned quickly after I started to date Heather was that I’d have to share her with her first love – television. Don’t get me wrong, I watch my share of TV too, but Heather takes TV viewership to a whole other level. For one thing, she has actual rules for watching TV. She also often complains that the two (repeat…two!) DVRs in our home aren’t enough for her to keep up with all of the shows she watches. Considering all of this, I suppose it isn’t a surprise that our TV viewing was changed by Maddie’s passing. After all, Maddie’s passing has changed every other facet of our lives.
One of Heather’s favorite shows is “Grey’s Anatomy.” She has been a fan since the show debuted in 2006, and watches its new episodes as well as (endless) re-runs on Lifetime. I was never the biggest fan of the show to start with (though I did like the episode where Katherine Heigl stripped to her underwear), but after Maddie passed it became unwatchable. I couldn’t bear to be transported to a hospital very much like the one Maddie passed away in, full of the same sights and sounds. Recently Heather watched an episode where a patient was dying, and the doctors, after attempting to revive him, eventually stopped and declared him dead. My eyes immediately welled with tears – I was right back in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, watching doctors try in vain to save my daughter’s life. Heather, however, was unaffected. To her “Grey’s Anatomy” is just a silly soap opera that she enjoys watching. (McDreamy probably helps too.)
That’s not to say that Heather’s TV viewing hasn’t been affected by losing Maddie; it has. Whereas Heather used to join me in watching the horror films I enjoy, now she can’t. She finds them too disturbing, too capable of drawing her back into her own horror story. These movies don’t have that effect on me – I find them silly and removed from reality – but then again Heather doesn’t get why I am so disturbed by “Grey’s Anatomy”.
We are making it work though. As I’ve written before, to move through grief a couple must accept the changes in each other and the fact that they can’t understand each other as perfectly as they once did. So now Heather watches “Grey’s Anatomy” when I’m not around, and I do the same with my horror films. And when our favorite comedies come on, we snuggle together on the couch, happy to be able to laugh and forget for at least half an hour.