Every summer, I struggle with melancholy. It's hot, our usual routine is out of whack...and the anniversary of my mother's death looms.
In recent years, I also find myself angry that I am still grieving. In less than a month, it will have been eighteen years. And still my heart grows heavy as the weather grows warm.
On July 4th I went to the local parade, where I knew there would be fire trucks, and I knew they would honk and be noisy and all that. Firetrucks driving down the road or sitting next to me, or turning on their sirens briefly to show kids does not trigger me. So I didn't expect to have trouble at the parade.
I was standing in a curbside parking space holding A-Train when the parade began. As a firetruck drove toward us, I was suddenly almost paralyzed and struck completely dumb. My pulse quickened, and I felt a lump in my throat. It all happened so fast - I hardly had time to sort through what the hell had me triggered. My rational brain was there, but I could not make the adrenaline stop pumping. I was looking directly into the front window of a firetruck. I realized I could almost feel my arms waving. I had a strong urge to shout and get the attention of the driver.
I was saying to myself "do the thing. Do the thing. You're not there. Do the thing. Make yourself come back. Stop this. Do the thing." And the panic grew as I responded to my own pleading with "I don't know how to do the thing right now. I'm there, I'm here. What's the thing I'm supposed to say? I'm...I'm...how old am I? What year is it? I can't do this... OhMyGodIHaveToPutMyBabyDown."
I managed to get a hand on The Beast's arm. He moved away (he was trying to get a good picture of Bean and the fire truck, and I was standing there dumbstruck so he didn't realize what was happening). I finally got a strong enough grip on his arm that he said, "what's wrong?"
I managed to quietly say "I'm having a flashback..."
He took A-Train, and I sat down and looked away and took deep breaths until I could remember and do "the thing" that stops the flashbacks.
"I'm 31 years old. It is 2012. I'm at a 4th of July Parade. I have two kids. Mom has been dead for almost 18 years. There is my husband. I am sitting in a chair."
I am still frustrated that - 18 years later - I was blindsided by this.
This summer, The Beast was out of the country for 3 weeks out of 4 in May/June. Bean obviously missed him immensely. During those stretches of solo parenting, there were illnesses and teething. I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent. The Beast returned and immediately started teaching. I've been working, and we still have very little childcare. He has been getting up at 4AM to work, and staying late at work other days.The Beast and I are two ships passing in the night. Finances are tight. I'm injured and haven't been
Monday afternoon I got sulky. Bean asked why I was sad. "I miss Grandma Nita," I said.
"Yeah. I'm sad I never got to see her," he said.
"You would have loved her, and she would have loved you so much, Sweetheart."
"What shape was her hair?" he asked. It made me smile. Like he was trying to figure out how to get a sense of who she was. Eighteen months ago, he had this thing about hair - he said he could tell if he was going to be friends with someone by the shape of their hair. We discussed the fact that you really can't tell what someone is like based on their hair...but still he remains fascinated by the "shape" of people's hair (I am not clear on whether this means their haircut, their hair's texture, or what!).
We then had a conversation about how old Grandma Nita was, and that I am younger than she was when she died (oooooooh how I dread when he figures out how old I was, and how old he'll be when I am Grandma Nita's age, and just how precarious life can be. I tear up just thinking about it, but I also won't be hiding any of this from him.)
That was Monday. Tuesday morning, I was still feeling weepy (and completely annoyed at myself for feeling weepy).
We have a big hutch with drawers, and Bean never went for the drawers or cabinets or anything as a toddler. Guess who does? Death Wish (A-Train), of course! And guess who doesn't have the time or resources to pack up that stuff and put it away at the moment? ME! We have some of Grandma Nita's stuff in the drawers, and our nice dishes (given as wedding presents) on and in it.
Tuesday morning, I walked into the kitchen and A-Train was holding a glass dish of my mother's. "No. No. Nonononononono!" I shouted.
He grinned at me and threw it back into the drawer, shattering it.
I started bawling. He started bawling.
We sobbed together on the couch. Every time I spoke, he started crying again - and then I started crying again. Bean was saying "take a deep breath. It's going to be ok. It's so sad, but it's going to be ok."
I hate that I still miss her so much, and I'm constantly wondering if I miss her or the idea of her.
I'm not even sure that I wish she were alive. I have letters to her that I wrote in high school, in which I say just that, so I've been wrestling with that thought for a long time.
My life is pretty awesome. Last night I snuggled with my husband and marveled at how easy our marriage is. "I think the trick is to make everything really difficult except the marriage. Then you don't have time to worry about the marriage," he joked.
I have two perfect, funny, sweet, healthy little boys who make my heart swell (ok, and break or at least lurch in fear) daily. I have friends all over the world who care about me. I have quirky kidneys, but they don't slow me down (that's up to my IT Band and hip flexor tendons at the moment!).
I have family - by blood, by love, and by marriage - who are there for me in so many ways.
Would I really want to change a thing?