Over the past week, I've been ranting on Facebook, talking too much and too loudly, and laughing just a little bit too hard over things that aren't really that funny. I've tried to listen to others when they speak only to find myself fighting my way up through a dense fog to actually hear what they're saying. Yesterday I tried my damnedest to write a celebratory blog for my brother's 50th birthday. But the words ran away.
That blog is all laid out with pictures of him from infancy through early childhood. But the words, the words, the words, they're just not coming. And I'm guessing they won't because the pictures, well these pictures they haunt me. Not because of what's in them but because of why they're even on my computer in the first place. I didn't put them there. My husband did that six years ago for a photo memorial for my father's wake. He died on the 3rd of March in 2004, the day before my brother's 44th birthday.
I have snapshots of that day in my memory that haunt me as much as those on my disk.
Sitting in a group trying to focus on what was going on around me, not quite able to do so as my mind drifted into and out of reality. The next moment I was in a candlelit room, pillows scattered around on the floor. No one else was there for the surprise yoga class I thought was going to start soon. Then there was Jeannie who'd been working with me to fight my way out of the haze. Confusion added to the mist in my head as I tried to comprehend why she was holding a yoga class just for me.
Cory walked in, nodded to Jeannie who picked up the phone, pushed a button, and handed it to me. It was Rick's voice on the other end telling me my father had died. And I told him no that couldn't be true, I didn't want it to be true, and he said yes it was. I curled into a ball on a cushion and in a very small voice, the voice of a child, said no I don't want him to be dead. Hon, yes he is. I'm sorry. Are you okay? No, but what do I do now?
Jeannie asking me what do you need. Can I go to the beach? In her Jeep driving to Panera's where she bought us each something thick, cold, and sweet as she continued on to the beach. I know she talked to me but have no idea what she said. I'd flown away, far away, so far away up into my head that no one could reach me.
Walking on the beach picking up stones and listlessly tossing them into the ocean. Finding small shells, white and orange and yellow to put in my pocket. Watching the waves. Hearing nothing and feeling nothing whatsoever at all. Jeannie touching my arm walking me back away from the water. Into the Jeep once again heading back to the place I was staying.
Talking to Rick the next day, I'm not coming home, everyone will be worried about me, it'll be worse for them if I'm there. That's good, I'm glad. We all want you to stay and get well. And I stayed in a bubble of unreachable numbness. No one got through over the next 4 months as my mantra became show them no weakness, don't let them see you cry. They talked at me, bullied me, yelled at me, and mercifully grew tired, and gave up. I healed enough from what brought me there in the first place to finally go home.
The family waited for me to come back before holding the funeral mass that was unreal and surreal and my father wasn't there in that green box with his name on the lid. I put my little bag of shells from that March day in the hole alongside the box where he wasn't.
Walls carefully raised and held in place for 6 years began to crack ever so slightly on Saturday. On Wednesday a brother's reminder that this was the anniversary brought more fissures to the wall. As I continue to wage war with the unsafeness of tears the pain in my gut and behind my eyes has started to become too much to carry around day after day and year after year.
And bro, please be patient. My smart-ass remarks about some of my favorite memories of you over the past 50 years is coming. It's just taking longer than I thought it would take. It would have been easy if that wall hadn't cracked when it did.
(Hey Dad, on Wednesday I found that rain-soaked dollar bill that you left for me in the grass at work. Thanks for checking in to see how I was doing. I'm still workin' on it.)