I’m afraid you’ll hear a lot of wound-licking and complaining from me in the coming month. The monster of sadness, lack of control, self-destructive behavior, survivor’s guilt, it’s all there, waiting for me in the cover of the hickory saplings just off of my deck. Ready to pounce.
As usual I’ve been dreading July. In my last post I said that, for me, the badness begins on June 30, the anniversary of the death of our friend Tom. But in the past days I’ve realized that it actually begins on June 27, the birthday of a dear friend who lost her life just about 18 months ago? No? Is it longer? Does keeping track really matter? Seems she was here yesterday. I was at her house, celebrating her birthday and ignoring my phone when Caroline drove Adam there to tell me that Tom had died. I can’t describe what ensued once I got home. It was primal and it was awful. And it was the beginning of a longstanding grief, as I well knew.
Tom’s funeral was a few days later, in a town about 90 minutes away. Adam collapsed three times in a room full of neurosurgeons. He hadn’t collapsed like that before. I knew it was the beginning of the end. Without Tom there, he was giving up.
I’m pretty sure that he and Tom had discussed the odds of their survival. Honestly, no bookie would have taken those odds. And once Tom was gone, it was only a short, 10-day trip for Adam to go to the hospital, never to come home.
I just don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know what my kids are thinking and still hesitate to pin them down, wanting them to have their own emotions without my picking all around in them for my own comfort. I keep hoping that if they have something to say, they’ll say it. But I also know they don’t want to upset me anymore than I’m already upset. Kids: that’s not possible.
Is cryogenics up and running yet? Could I just freeze myself for the month of July? Would that even help? Because then there’s August, which brings Adam’s birthday on the 6th and the anniversary of his funeral on the 7th, and the remembrance of our lovely church secretary, Pamela, who died just days before Adam. In an effort not to be too self-centered, I’d also like to remember my sister’s in-laws who died on either side of Adam. Really? Who is supposed to be able to survive all this without adopting or reverting to bad behaviors?
Look out world. I’m just trying to survive.
This month upcoming is going to be really hard. Despite my desire to crawl in a hole and hide, I must go to work and be a facsimile of a human being. Today’s traffic on the way to work almost brought me to tears and it wasn’t about traffic. It was about loss and why I have to navigate through my new stuff without the support of the person I love which really means the support of no one.
After giving up my dream of working in magazine publishing, which I gave up because moving to NYC in the 80s would have stolen my soul and killed my body, I decided that I’d like to be a mom and wife. A really unpopular decision back then, because finally women were able to chart their own paths and I’d chosen the out-moded one.
Adam was my knight in shining armor. He had a great job which would allow me to freelance (no armor pun intended) and to be ready when we had a family. Caring for my family was my raison d’être. I loved it.
I can’t even speak now about the moment I realized and bleated to my children about it just being the three of us from now on. It’s one of the worst memories of my life and I can’t even believe that I remember it. Why didn’t my brain blot it out?
Anyway it happened and here we are.
I count my blessings that I have been hired by a firm whom I did business with years ago and continued to hold in high esteem. My learning curve has been large but those around me have been so supportive (I am not sucking up to you; it’s true).
But I’m a new-hire and worry that I’ll lose all focus during the upcoming badness. I mark the end of my world by June 30, the death of our dear friend Tom Ellis, and the death and funeral of my beloved Adam. Yes, I can keep it together mostly. Worrying about the interstices.
Here we are on the cusp of that forced holiday. Although its sentiment is lovely and makes us eager to celebrate if that person is in our life, the absence of a father makes it hard to face Sunday. I’m thankful, this year, for my father-in-law. He is the only father we have left. I’ve said before on this page that I can’t decide whether to mark the occasion or let it slide since we don’t have a living person to celebrate. I’d prefer just to remember Adam and my dad and let it be.
Strangely enough, my daughter was moved, last night, to make her first-ever blackberry pie. That was her dad’s favorite. Did she think about that while making the pie? Did he somehow inspire her to do so? I thought the timing was ironic but it’s hard to say more.
At my house, a daylily that I bought from my hometown farmer’s market, while shopping there with Dad over 15 years ago, has bloomed beautifully this year. I kept planting it in inappropriate locations, but now, finally, it is thriving.
It’s probably true that none of this has to do with anything. The brain, constantly searching for connections, has made these happen. But it gives me comfort to imagine that Adam sent a little charge to Caro, inspiring her to make that pie, and that my dad caused that beautiful lily to open just in time for Fathers’ Day.
How do you have Fathers’ Day when there’s no father?
It’s one thing when your father died at approximately his appointed time. Although I feel my father was taken before his time, by who knows what assault on his brain that caused his loss of speech and, quickly, a further decline, he was my father and older than me, and that made his illness and death a micron easier to come to terms with than the death of my children’s father, my husband, when my children had just turned 16.
Now I have no idea what to do on Fathers’ Day. It’s barely a week after my own father’s birthday. He and Adam are buried close to each other in the churchyard, but it seems too solemn to go there. I don’t think they are there. I just don’t know.
This is such an extremely difficult time of the year for our family. It is cheek-to-jowl with birthdays, anniversaries, and other anniversaries we’d as soon not remember. I feel the days must be marked but I just don’t know how. Til now I’ve used the excuse that I just couldn’t deal with it but that excuse can’t last forever.
I’m trolling for ideas. If any of you have rituals that have been soothing for you and your families, I’d appreciate your sharing.