Friday, April 28, 2006
The burial ceremony was held over a blanket of fresh snow on a cold January afternoon. I hadn't grabbed my jacket as I left the church, I remember needing the pain of the chill to distract me from my overwhelming sorrow. Mom's closest family were gathered there, and I stood the farthest away. I elected not to add a handful of dirt upon her grave.
I've tried driving by since, but manage to have my mind elsewhere as I pass. I blame it on too many thoughts, sometimes a make-believe case of ADD, sometimes not feeling well. I think in at least some part that I cannot completely recognize as of yet, it's a contrived forgetfulness. I can still hear her telling me, "Why do you look for me there?"
Last night, as I was filling time until a friend got home from work, I went for a run. My feet just kind of took me there. It was a quick 2.5 miles, too quick for me to realize where I was headed. I gradually shortened my stride as I neared, working down to a jog, then a walk, as I crossed the life-rife lawn and sat with my knees held to my chest at her marker.
I let Norah Jones continue to sing in my ears. Her soulful voice enacts me to feel even when my bullying mind tells me that feelings are illogical, stupid, and counter-productive. The combination of "Painter Song" and my mother's absence was potent.
If I were a painter
I would paint my reverie
If that’s the only way for you to be with me
We’d be there together
Just like we used to be
Underneath the swirling skies for all to see
And I’m dreaming of a place
Where I could see your face
And I think my brush would take me there
If I were a painter
And could paint a memory
I’d climb inside the swirling skies to be with you
I’d climb inside the skies to be with you
I sat there and sobbed. I miss her so.
I've met with many tears as of late. Brenda thinks it is because time has passed and I've begun to let my guard down. All at once I have become flustered with life, and completely lost in the nonexistence of the time I was once so eager to schedule away. Brenda suggested just this week that I sit at her grave and speak with my mother, that she was always there to listen. I didn't accomplish a lot of speaking last night, but it was a step.
I ran home with a chill in my bones, entering the empty house and feeling so entirely alone.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I find a lot of parallels between my aunt and myself. The sad part is that instead of finding it disturbing, I find it highly enlightening. Brenda has always claimed that little kids and dogs are always attracted to her...but really it's more widespread. It's pretty much every living organism and the occasional kitchen appliance. She finds her return interest lacking.
Like Brenda, I profess that I'm terrible when it comes to speaking with people that I don't know. Yet, I know the grocery store checker that has the blue hair (sometimes magenta) lives with her boyfriend who is one year and 3 months younger and so immature that she has to give him chores. I also know her favorite ice cream to be cherry almond and that she consumes a bowl every night before bedtime...oh, and that she has been looking into fitness programs for the last 8 months, waiting for the right one to come along. Nothing yet.
She snorts, my aunt, as we're coming home from our wild night of coffeehouse dining, McDonald's ice cream cones, and Kohl's—where I bought socks and a pair of earrings. "You're just like me. You don't make a lot of eye contact." She went on to relay that the reason the cats flock to me is because I ignore them. She says cats are independent, they don't like coddling. My disinterest attracts them. I grunt. "Same with old men."
I whip my head to her. "Have Nick take you to a bar. Sit at opposite ends. Make eye contact with no one. The old men will flock to you." Lovely...I think I'll pass. Sadly, this exchange came shortly on the heels of me discussing my place in the church, and feeling like a fish out of water, being pretty much the only one there in my age group and situation. I told Bren that I felt like an old maid. "BUT YOU'RE 24!" she exclaimed.
"I mean, really," I debate. "Everybody has children or grandchildren my age. Also, I'm not in any sort of relationship," I pause, rethinking, flopping my wrist with fingers lax, "Well, except for Nick."
"Yeah, 'cept Nick."
But that's a good trick to learn...you know, about the old men. If I ever get desperate enough. Or forget about Nicholas for long enough. Lack of sleep...it does funny things to you.
Keep reminding me, Nick.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
As per a 2003 focused study, I was the absolutely last among my generation to embrace cell phones. And it wasn't a Kate-n-Leo, My Heart Will Go On kind of hug, but more of a "I know she's my first cousin twice removed, but why does she always smell like moth balls?" back-pat.
I stood firm that there were times that people did not need to be available for phone contact. At church, in a coffee shop, or while consuming a soft-serve ice cream cone. The reverent moments that make life worth living, you know? This way of thinking came prior to my reexamination of Plato's notes wherein he philosophized that not all ringing phones need be answered. Smart man, that Plato was.
Even so, I did not personally own a cell phone. The contract was in my name, sure, but I wanted nothing to do with it. Cell phones cause Brain Cancer—I heard it on the radio—so they're pretty much up there with drinking diet soft drinks and breathing Earth's air: things to be avoided at all costs in the prevention of the big "C".
But then I began using one. It is quite inexpensive to add a phone to a cell contract, did you know? Yes, well it is. So much so that it was more economic to add $5 to my cell phone bill than to continue paying $45 for the land-line + long distance. Common sense is my Siren's song. I wasn't a big phone person at the time....I only used about an hour a day, the majority of which was my evening phone call with Mom. As nights and weekends are unlimited by way of minutes, sharing the current allotment was more than adequate.
By the time I was once again a Wisconsin resident, I never left home without it. Even so, we reduced our monthly minutes plan to share 800, nights starting at 7PM. Miles was the talk-aholic. Count on me for a decent 1-200 minutes, and you can have the rest, Dearie. But gradually...my jaw became diseased, and it began to flap incessantly. In February, I finally got around to customizing the Sprint contract to suit my needs and my needs alone. I knew I didn't need 800 minutes all to myself. I knew, also, that I now needed more than 200.
So I signed up for a 400 minute plan. This should have been a non-issue. Imagine my surprise to find that I talked 530 minutes last month, not including nights/weekends. Yowsers. But I still haven't gotten to the point of this meandering narrative. Don't worry, it's a-comin'.
I am able to keep my cell phone on and at my desk at work, in the event that somebody need contact me. Yesterday, disturbingly, I neglected to bring my cell to work. I was a lost puppy, totally and utterly pathetic, and I felt so disconnected that I trembled. I groaned to my reflection in the bathroom mirror after I splashed the cold, revitalizing water upon my face, "I've become one of thoooooose people!"
I used to be nostalgic. I used to be an anomaly, a throwback to a gilded era of "homemade" and "invested time"....now I've been inducted to the twenty-first century's hall of shame to live with the other mere, digitalized, impersonal wretches. I think this would depress me to a greater degree if it wasn't so handy to check my email while in queue at the bank drive-thru or to irritate Brenda with a text message to which she'll hate volleying.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Hello. My name is Laura, and I used to write blurbs and publish them on this website—no joke, I really did. So much so, that I used to force it if nothing truly interesting warranted documentation.
This week has been a mess. There's something wonky with my stomach but they can't figure out what it is. I remarked candidly to Nick last night as we began our run that lately I had been feeling both sleepiness and hunger! These are quite foreign to me these days. Fatigue I know all too well, the feeling of being "dried up"...know that one too...but actually feeling like I could sleep? CRAZY. The last couple of mornings when the alarm sounded at 4:30 I had strong urges to stay in bed—a bit of a departure for someone who begins watching the minutes tick by at 3:00. In any event, I shattered the spell by eating dinner last night, and I was feeling lousy enough that I actually delved into the sleeping aids.
Let's see, what else has made this week a teensy bit miserable? Well, my poor aunt, Brenda, has been sicker than a dog this week. Everyone is mowing their lawns...which on one hand is lovely because it's another bit of Winter chiseled away...but on the other, it makes grass allergy sufferers, no matter how minor the degree, feel crappy. No, crappy-squared. I'm one of the freaky darlings who welcomes that sweltering humidity of Summer--weighs down the flighty pollen.
And then there's the ever-strengthening longing to have Mom back. I ask those who've lost how long it takes to make the pain go away. They all answer that it never does...eventually you just run out of tears. I'm inundated with the joyous memories I was able to capture last Summer. Life will never be quite as golden for me, and I feel fortunate for having documented so many of her healthy moments, her personality, on this blog. I often read old entries, and even if a post isn't about her, I remember everything from the moment I wrote.
Then there's the frustration with insurance...I pay for my own, it isn't offered as a benefit at work. I seem to be paying an awful lot every month for inadequate coverage, yet I can't seem to find a better plan. I met with another agent on Wednesday to discuss my options, no dice, and spoke with another rep on the phone yesterday. It wouldn't be such a big deal, except they keep scheduling follow-up appointments for me. RARR. Quite frustrating. I just want to feel good again, dang it!
Meanwhile, Relay for Life is earlier this year—by two months! We're getting a late jump on forming a team, and I didn't realize what all was involved when I was asked to co-chair. I spoke at length with the other chair on Tuesday, from my church's sister church, and we've got to gauge how many people would seriously like to join...because a team is 15; 20 max. Dear me. I have had many nods of interest in participating—but saying and doing are two different things entirely. This afternoon, I'm meeting with the proxy I sent to the chairpersons meeting a few weeks ago when I was ill. Actually, I need to stop measuring time by when I was sick...too confusing. I should start going by when I feel healthy. That would be more specific.
Not only that, but I think the event actually falls around the exact time that I am finalizing my divorce. This is all very lovely timing, isn't it? I should be in excellent spirits all the way through. Let this be a lesson for me next time I agree to something so quickly. I'm drowning.
Work's been crazy...I was slammed with people wanting Medicare part D research this week...open enrollment ends May 15th, and the poor dears have only had since last October to figure out what they were going to do. Tax season is over now, so it's time to flood over-busy Laura.
I'm taking golf lessons with Brenda in May...tennis lessons with Sarah in June and July, taking classes at Summer's end/Fall's start...and somewhere in there, I'm going to enact a slowing down of life. Seems fated to fail, but my spirits are high.
Ok, well that's enough of this venting. Rambling discontent, how absolutely charming! Y'all come back now, ya hear?
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I wrote the previous entry as a sort of stream of consciousness, as most of my writing has been in the past few months. I was deeply engulfed in the longing of things past, of things that will never be again, when I made a discovery upon the kitchen table.
Leave it to Debbie...
Mom was big into the holidays. Even the little ones. She's use any excuse she could to buy my brother and me a card and little gift. Those mornings, when she crooned us awake—Mom didn't believe her children should have to be startled away by alarm clocks when her loving voice was available to coax them to the day—and we stumbled down the darkened hall from which the bedrooms fed.
The light in the kitchen was always way too bright in our exodus from slumber, but even squinty eyed and barely coherent, we knew to look for those envelopes on the kitchen table, propped up and showcasing her lovely filigreed scrawl. Life is what you make of it, they always say...well, Mom made life extraordinary. Little things were a big deal. Nuances were cherished.
I was thinking back to last Easter just the other day, how stark of a departure I've taken from my life for this year's coming. I'm not cooking a meal this year, I'm not saddened because Mom was suffering from a new and ugly form of chemotherapy on Good Friday. I missed her so last year. I guess that hasn't changed...and it's also raining again. The skies cry.
I noticed about a month ago that I was attracted to the scent of lavender when I have never been during the past. Straining toward the sweet spiciness constantly, I purchased, for perhaps the first time ever, a parfum from Crabtree and Evelyn that wasn't Lily of the Valley, my scent of the last decade-plus. Mom never wore lavender, goodness no. She wore this terrible headache-inducing fragrance that I hated. Dad once mistook it for bug repellent upon the air. Open mouth; insert foot.
So, I didn't understand the draw at first, but have come to realize that it isn't the scent that reminisces, but the feelings of comfort and peace it inspires. This is what she did to me. Memories cascade about, like long, silky tresses in the soft late summer breeze. Graceful and delicate, I watch them dance and allow myself to feel.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
A few weeks ago, over Starbucks coffee, Nick, Jeff, Kara, and I tried to conduct conversation. It started well, all being in agreement that Kevin Covais really does look like Chicken Little. But then things went downhill, and Nick and Jeff started talking golf. This was in direct response to the discussion Kara and I were having about Johnny Depp.
You know, the four of us played Trivial Pursuit together once, Jeff and Kara vs. Nick and me, and there was a seeming pattern wherein the men correctly answered every Orange question and the women correctly answered every Pink question. Paired, we're well-educated forces...if you can forgive the lack of knowledge in history, literature, science, and geography.
But seriously, we've got entertainment and sports covered.
There was a pause in talk, and we all began staring at the ceiling, the exposed rafters on Starbucks' upper level. Thought bubbles began to float above our positions around the fireplace...."something we can all talk about...something we can all talk about..."
When nobody knew whether or not Johnny Depp played golf, we had to call it a night.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
...but not mine: I don't make resolutions.
Nick does. He did. He resolved to run a half-marathon this year. He told me so the first time I spoke with him on the phone. The funniest thing about resolutions, in my estimation, is that there's no surer way to resolve NOT to do something than when you pledge otherwise on January first.
I should have known that our darling Nicholas would not fall into such a trap. (Speaking of which, the aforementioned thinks I should have a "Stuff About Nick" category...a little self-important, isn't he?) We ran companionably side-by-side for four miles this evening, and then hit the grocery store for dinner, fruit, granola...you know, healthy crap. Nutritionally sound living: it's a nasty side effect of exercise.
Groceries loaded, we were headed toward Nick's condo when he announced, "So...I finished a half-marathon today." I looked his way, feeling guilty. I didn't know he had a run today. I'm a poor friend. I stared a bit longer, feeling low, wanting details. Nick continued, "I didn't say I started it today....but I finished 'er."
So Nick's been super busy at work, going in early, staying late. Yesterday a thought, a seeming incongruence, struck.
April has been a glorious month thus far. Spring is most certainly in the air, but I know better than anyone the bullying of the Mother's day snowstorm, so I am trying not to get over excited. Last night, though, it even smelled of Spring, the misting rain, the wet soil. I exhaled deeply from my perch on the couch, relaxing into the cushions before turning to Nick. The time had come, and I would get to the bottom of this.
"Uh, Nick?" I don't know why the information was so important to me. I am going to blame my new medication. It has a slew of side effects just to make my belly stop aching including, but not restricted to, the complete inability to keep food down for an hour or two after I take it...which is every twelve hours. So...basically they're saying that if I just stop having to digest food, my stomach won't hurt. Gotcha, Boss. Anyway, I'm blaming the evil pill on this incident, I've now decided...ignore the title completely. Thanks.
Nick looked over, obviously tired and weary...and oh so meek. I hated to even insinuate that he had told me an untruth the VERY DAY we met, but it bothered me. It really, really bothered me. He's told me that this frenzied time at work will last for weeks. WEEKS. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a busy period to me. "Um, I thought you said your busy period at work was in the Spring?"
Dead silence, pointed look.
He stared a bit longer, then glanced toward the mid-sixties April rain shower beyond the window pane.
"But why is it so busy n—" Oh.
Stupid medicine. Stupid, stupid.
This was taken last Sunday, one of the first times I've seen Charlie since Mom passed away. I will always see his gentle fingers caressing her cheek the morning she went into a coma...and he is beautiful to me.
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