Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I want happy

Slow work weeks for freelancers are distressing. Slow work weeks for grieving freelancers are dangerous.

With nothing pressing to occupy your mind, it's especially easy to get lost down an internet rabbit hole. Eat the wrong things. Dwell on what-ifs. Wander aimlessly. Bother sleeping cats. Then eat the wrong things and start the whole cycle all over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today I found myself curled up on the only cat-free spot on the bed begging my Dad - who I'm only partially convinced can even hear me now - to help me find happy again.

I want happy.

My Beloved and I lost our first baby a little over 7 years ago. I have spent almost all the time since that moment being afraid or sad. Desperately so in both cases. Sometimes at the same time. There were bits of hope and moments of happy sprinkled in, sure, lots of them. But mostly I feel like I've been sad for such a very long time.

I want happy.

So I sat up and made a mental list of things that make me happy, thinking that was a good start. But I cried the whole time. I am responsible for my own happiness, but that responsibility is so overwhelming right now that I don't even know where to start. It makes me tired and defeated just thinking about the effort of it all.

I want someone to walk in with happy on a silver platter. A great huge plate heaped full with more happy on it than I could ever possibly need or want. An excess of happy. Effortlessly won.

But that's not the way it works. So I'll press on as I have been; as best I know how.

I'll get lost online, eat crap, cry, move quietly from room to room, and pester the cats while I wait for work.

And while I try to figure out a way to find happy again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The sweater

I have my Dad's sweater hanging in the closet in the sitting room. It's the butter-yellow one with the faux wood buttons that my mom made so long ago that no one can remember exactly when; the one he wore to dialysis all summer long; the one that was finally deemed too raggedy and was replaced by a navy blue store-bought cardigan in the Fall.

But it slipped into rotation every now and again. And it's what he had on the last day he was alive. I found it at the bottom of their basement stairs, along with the shirt he'd worn to dialysis that Monday, hastily tossed away out of sight while my mom and sister waited for the coroner. And then, finally, the funeral parlor to come and take him away.

I brought it home and washed it. And I hung it in the closet that would have been Thomas'.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it - it's pilled and has a small blood stain on one arm caused by the ever-present itchy rash that plagued him. A side-effect of dialysis, we were told.

But I had to have it. I sat with him in the waiting room so many times as he wore that sweater. I watched him walk into the treatment room, slightly hunched and shuffling, with that butter-yellow sweater hanging off the shoulders that used to be broad and strong. I'd retrieve it from his bedroom when he'd forget to put it on. I'd help him into it. I hugged him hello and goodbye so many times while he was wearing it.

I needed it.

Maybe I'll wear it. Maybe I won't. But I need it here with me just the same.

I've only just started not needing to have lights on at dusk in rooms we're not using. When Thomas died, nightfall suffocated me, and I wanted to banish it before it had a chance to take a choke-hold this time.

But it's been a kinder sort of healing, and after not quite two and a half weeks the lights aren't necessary any longer. I've also stopped needing to have the TV on while I fall asleep. We still do it every once in a while, but I don't panic at the thought of falling asleep in the dark anymore. And my brain is quieter and lets me slip into sleep much easier now too.

So there's the sweater. And there's the darkness. And for now, I'm living comfortably enough with both of them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

11 Days

My dad has been gone for 11 days.

Separation by death is agony. The new, awful distance between you rubs your soul raw, shredding you from the inside out as you push forward through the busyness of sleeping, eating, working.

I keep thinking of things I want to tell him. I used to stockpile bits and pieces to talk to him about while we were in the dialysis waiting room - things to distract him or amuse him. Sometimes they were things that were so exciting to me that I couldn't wait, and told him in the car on the way to the hospital.

He was the kind of person who you wanted to run to when you had something to say that you knew he'd want to hear. He lit up. He laughed from his toes. He pounded his fist with sympathetic rage.

Sometimes, for a fraction of a second, I forget. And then I am frozen with this thing I want to say sitting quietly unspoken in my head as I remember. 

When my mom woke me that morning to tell me he'd died in his sleep, I didn't cry. I hung up the phone, looked out the window and thought, "So this is what it looks like without him here."

It looked the same. And I couldn't understand how that could possibly be.

I miss him in a way I can't miss Thomas - and in a way that confused me for the first few days. There's a hole where Thomas should have been, but there's a hole where my dad was. In those first, awful days it felt so much worse than when Thomas died.

Because I knew my dad.

I've finally decided that it's okay to miss them differently. I don't know why this preoccupied me so much, but I was worried about missing one more than the other. I was worried about what that might say about the love I had for each of them.

But as it turns out, I love them both and miss them both - for a million different reasons. And for two common reasons: because we three are a part of each other, and because they both belonged to me.

His hands are gone. He can't hold mine anymore. But I feel him guiding me through these sad, strange days - urging me onward and reminding me that life does go on. And that it can be wonderful, even still. 

Because he led by example.

The night he died - before I even knew he was gone - I cried quietly in bed wondering how on earth I'd live without that love when the time came.

I now know that it's still there - that his love will always be with me.

And the friends who came to the visitation and the funeral - and who send cards, flowers, chocolates, food, messages and Mass cards, and left treats at my door - have demonstrated that there is abundant love to be had all around me. I'm once again in grateful awe of the way friends seem to find a way to fill the awful empty spaces with their concern, friendship and love.

I miss my daddy.

But I'm doing okay.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


On January 4th, sometime in the wee hours while he was tucked up in his bed, my dad's sweet and much-loved heart quietly stopped beating.

I'm sure I will be able to speak more eloquently about this in the days to come, but right now I'm spent. Yesterday afternoon, under cold but mercifully sunny skies, we laid him to rest in the same cemetery where our Thomas lies.

And I miss him like crazy. I can still feel the last hug I got from him on Sunday night after dinner. Tight, tight, tight, despite how incredibly weak and frail he was. And as he held me, he kissed me on the head as though I was a child again.

I lost my son - my only child. I know that putting one foot in front of the other is how you carry on despite the suffocating grief and sorrow's unrelenting fatigue.

But I miss my daddy. I miss him so very, very much.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Welcome, 2011!

I have high hopes for you, but also know that ultimately I am responsible for making my own happiness, cultivating my own good luck, and sewing up all those sow's ears I keep finding into enchanting little silk purses. I'm used to the drill.

How about this: I'll put 100% effort into it if you do too, 2011. Deal?


P.S. be a pal and be nice to my peeps while you're at it, huh? Thanks, 2011.

P.S.S. I'm not still drunk from last night, 2011, I'm just really tired and a little worn out from the stress of the holidays. Once I've had a good night's sleep I'll probably stop talking to you...and writing to you in public. Don't be offended, m'k? M'k.