Thank you to Brene Brown for the above image and the inspiration for this post. It's awkward writing here, after my last post. In fact, doing anything feels awkward right now. I'm hosting Book Club this month, something I look forward to all year and feel completely indifferent to this time (I can't even find my copy of the book, which means I probably lent it to someone, but luckily I chose a book I'd read before---Brene's The Gifts of Imperfection). The boys have their radio show on Saturday but we haven't listened to any new music this spring. Aidan's science fair, a newborn photo shoot tomorrow, Sean's birthday party, all these good things that I care about, but right now I just don't have access to the part of me that cares about them. That's how it feels.
I'm familiar enough with grief to know this is typical. Knowing it is typical doesn't make any less odd to see the world continuing on with its normal business.
While we were in Chicago, Sean was showing off that he'd memorized A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes. My dad, never one to be outdone, started to quote Auden to Sean, "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone..." and then he broke down, turned to me and said, "I can't." I've heard him recite that poem many times, but the lines sound new to me now. I understand that desire to have your loss written on the sky, finding it painful that the world should be able to continue on so indifferently. That everything is still normal, that the phone still rings, is one of the strangest parts of grief.
And then nothing is normal. I can't call my mother to tell her the funny thing Nolan said today. I learn Anna Quindlan has a new memoir coming out and immediately think, "That'll be perfect for Mother's Day" and then realize I won't be buying another Mother's Day gift. I've never watched Downtown Abby or Doc Martin, but suddenly feel like I have to DVR them since they have the audacity to continue even though my mother will no longer be watching them. We did not have an easy relationship; in many ways our roles were switched. There was no one I judged more harshly, nor did anyone ever find me as wanting as she did. And yet, since 1998 not a week went by without our talking, and the last six years, rarely more than a couple days. Until now that is, when a month has gone by.
I intended to write about the sparks today, about all the kindness that is lighting my way, the deep gratitude I do feel, but instead these words took precedence. I'll be back with a grateful heart another day.