Monday, September 8, 2014

Unexploded landmines

You see it in the news all the time, people getting blown up by landmines that have been lying in wait for years and years, long after the conflict has supposedly ended.  Stepped on one myself today.  

I was sitting in the waiting room at my chiropractor's.  He shares space with a massage therapist and a naturopath nurse practitioner, and the secretary for the latter was on the phone.  I heard her in the middle of an initial call that didn't make much sense, and I wasn't really paying attention because Redbook had an article on Melissa McCarthy I was trying to speed-read before my chiropractor finished with the client before me.  But then the secretary must have buzzed her boss, because then the conversation went like this:

"So-and-so passed away.  Yeah, the neighbor hadn't seen her in a while, so they had the police do a welfare check.  It look like she fell, I guess.  She's probably been gone 2-3 days."

Of course the secretary could not know that I was quietly freaking out over on the couch as she told basically my story, about someone else, to someone else.  All I can recall feeling is my eyes getting bigger as I listened, and part of me saying "" in my head because I didn't want to be hearing this.  Of all the legion shitty parts of widowhood, the 2 days I didn't hear from him, growing more and more terrified, and the third day when I was the one who called the apartment manager, and then the cops, and ultimately had my worst fears confirmed is the part I try not to revisit.  At all.  Even when my thoughts wander there, I make a mental U-turn as quickly as possible.  Because it's so horrible, thinking about him lying there, waiting to be found...  

No.  Stop it.  Can't think about it.

I've gotten pretty good about not thinking about it after 8 years.  (I almost wrote 6 years, redid the math and my head, and wanted to cry when I realized it was 8; it's been so long.) And yet, because I happened to go to the chiropractor today instead of tomorrow, as I usually do, I got blindsided.  If I'd gone tomorrow, I would've missed it.

Why?  If there's a reason for everything (a philosophy I don't necessarily buy into), why did I have to confront this today?  If learning to live your life without your loved one who died is a spiritual education, then what the hell am I supposed to get from running into these mines, other than a freshly broken heart, or if not broken, oozing a little at the scar?  I take it personally.  I know I probably shouldn't, but I do.  It's like, "Goddammit, when do I get a break?  Haven't I done enough to heal?  Why does shit still crop up?  If my chiropractor had been on time, if I'd gone tomorrow, if the rain had kept us both home, it wouldn't have.  Why did everything align perfectly so that the one client my chiropractor has who would be hurt by overhearing that exact conversation was the only one sitting in the waiting room when it took place? 

I know it's not all about me.  Some other family now knows exactly how I've felt, and I know I wasn't the first, either.  Still, I don't believe in coincidences.  It's weird.  It made me sad.  And it makes me wonder why feeling loss is a life sentence.  Perhaps not every day of that life, but dammit, too often.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Aware and oblivious at the same time

As I have mentioned here before, I have a friend in California who happens to both elderly and in ill health. This makes planning visits tricky, because she really doesn't like company when she's feeling her worst, and neither of us knows when that will be, so even though I'd like to see her more, I have to wait for the high sign from her to plan a trip out, despite her being just 7 hours away by car.  In the meantime, there's always a part of my mind that is on guard with the dread of waiting to receive another death call from California.

The high sign came about 2 weeks ago, and I immediately pulled up my calendar to figure out which dates would work best for me, settling on July 14-17 as the stretch where the fewest things would have to be canceled.  So I must have seen it on my calendar, because it's there (as if I'd ever forget).

But it wasn't until several days later, as I was telling someone when I'd be gone, that I realized I had scheduled myself to be there on the 8th anniversary of A's death, July 15th.  I was worried about dog grooming trips and meetings and gigs and other stuff, I guess--things I have to actually DO.  The day A died is just a thing that is, regardless of what I'm doing that day.  Though I tend to try not overschedule myself.  I like to give myself room to just be alone with my thoughts in the comfortable surroundings of home.  On that particular subject, no one cares to hear them anyway.

On the one hand, I was mildly impressed that that date didn't figure into my trip planning; that it was even possible for me to not ruminate over it and consider changing my plans.  On the other hand, I'm going to be in California on that date, which could be rough.  And while my friend loves me, and understands about A...well, let's just say if I were giving out awards for "Best Supporting Friend in a Drama," she wouldn't have necessarily made the list of nominees.  So I'm not going to hash it out with her that day, even if I feel a need to.  Perhaps I'll just tell her I need a little time at the beach alone to process any feelings that come up, and we'll leave it at that.

And a little part of me hopes, or more accurately, wishes that my being in California will somehow help him find me more easily and let me know he's around.

I don't really know what to expect, but this non-PMS PMS-like irritability I've been feeling lately (and keep forgetting why it might be happening) tells me that I could be in for some rough waters this anniversary.  If only they made Dramamine for that.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Yet and still

I was standing in my office this weekend, practicing guitar, playing to a collage frame of A’s pictures, as I sometimes do, because I need a stand-in audience as I rehearse. And because I want him to hear me. I want to play for him, because he is the reason I play at all, and I wish he could hear me now, when I’ve gotten so much better than I was when he was last here to hear me. It’s not really fair that he only heard me when I was sucked. He deserves better.

I don’t remember the song I was playing, but it wasn’t one I wrote for him, or played because it was a song he liked, though I think there was obviously some emotional content to it, because suddenly, I had tears in my eyes.

And then yesterday, he was heavy on my mind, as I looked hard at those pictures again, really seeing him, remembering where we were when I took those photos, seeing his personality come through in every one, and, well...there was a lot of sighing. I had no sooner thought to myself, “Why is this all coming up now?” (because it’s been a long while since I’ve felt this stuff hovering so close to the surface) when that thought was followed up with, “Oh’s June.”

Tonight I had to look up a song to send to my guitar teacher for my lesson tomorrow, and I found it on a mix CD I’d made him as a gift on our first in-person visit. The song I wanted was near the end, so I listened to the rest of the mix while I puttered on the computer, and my heart grew fuller and heavier with every song. So of course, because I’m a masochist, I looked up the email he sent me after I went home from that first trip, with the playlist of that CD because I’d forgotten to keep a copy for myself. Only he’d added some text to a bunch of the titles, little romantic things that would’ve made me fall in love with him right then, if I hadn’t already been so far gone down that particular road. And I read the emails and poems we exchanged that day, about how we missed each other, about how great a trip it’d been, about how we were looking forward to many more. And of course, I was completely farklempt, especially when I read the “many more visits” part. God damn it, we were cheated. I will never get over that.

Oh yes. It’s June. And this is why I don’t read those old emails as much as I imagined I would back when I first lost him. Because I’m right down the rabbit hole when I do, overwhelmed simultaneously with the full force of the love I felt for him then, and still feel, and the horror and ache of losing him, of being without him all this time.

It’s been 10 years since we met. Come July, it’ll be 8 years he’s been gone. Last year, I didn’t feel the June ramp-up so much, so I wasn’t expecting it at all this year.

Wrong again.

On the one hand, it hurts. There’s no two ways about it. On the other hand, so many times I curiously examine my emotional state when I think of him, or see his picture every day, because it isn’t emotionally fraught, and I wonder how that can be. Other times, I worry that he’s slipped away from me; that if I didn’t have the pictures I’d have nothing at all left. So at this point in the game, I’m thinking it’s okay that it comes back full force sometimes--even if it hurts. I find it reassuring, because it means I haven’t forgotten. He hasn’t slipped away from me. He wasn’t a dream; he was real, and we loved each other truly. He was really here, and he loved me, and he was wonderful, and fuck, I miss him. For all the homage I’ve paid, and the memories I’ve captured, and the nods to him I’ve made in the things I do since he died; for all the healing I’ve done, and the contentment I’ve managed to regain, and the forward progress that is to me, in my deepest heart, nothing less than miraculous, I miss him so. I’ll never not miss him; he was a singular soul, and my life will always be better for having had him in it, and it will always be diminished because he’s no longer here. And that, my friends, is a heartbreak that will last as long as my heart still beats.