I’m becoming the queen of unfinished blog posts. I’ve started… oh, maybe five or six of them recently and none of them made it to “actually posting for other people to read” level. It’s not like I’m all that perfectionistic about my blog usually: I’m a big fan of treating this as casual writing, more or less stream-of-consciousness. I try to think of it as being for Future Me more than for any current reader. What will I want to remember? What will make me smile?
But it’s a weird time. Yesterday I was sitting on my bed with my legs folded under me. My knees started to hurt, so I went to shift positions, but before I moved, I checked to see where Zelda was. Gotta make sure I don’t kick the dog, you know.
Surprise, she wasn’t there. It was a surprise to me, actually, even though it has been 19 days since she died. (I’m not really counting the days like that, I just knew it was more than two weeks, less than three, and I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was.)
Last Saturday would have been her 16th birthday. I worked on a blog post for most of the day, decided at the end of the day that those words could just be for me. I thought it would get easier after that.
On Tuesday, we picked up her ashes. I thought it would get easier after that.
Someday soon, I’ll scatter her ashes at a beach. I even pretty much know which beach and which part of the beach. I’m sure it’ll get easier after that.
Meanwhile! Um, well, lots of thoughts about friendships and relationships and people’s roles in our lives that I don’t intend to share. Except to remind myself of these moments from journals in my past:
February 16, 1992: …Worst fear — that Michelle might die. Second worst — that I will go on feeling this far away from her.
So weirdly prophetic! She died February 5, 2012, almost exactly twenty years later.
August 14, 1991: …Work people — too many right now to have figured them out but I think I want to be friends with Suzanne, aka Bones.
Good call, self! Really, truly, brilliant call. I’d just started a new job, a REAL job, and I was extremely excited about it. I think it was maybe my second day there, or pretty close to that.
And yeah, my failed attempt to write a blog post on Saturday led to a lot of looking through old files. I was not keeping an electronic journal in 1991 – 1992, but when I got rid of my house and all my belongings, I copied bits of some of the things I was throwing away before tossing them. Only five years later, but it was still like stumbling upon the unknown. In my defense, I was pretty busy right around that time.
My favorite of the poems I saved:
There are little purple flowers
smiling at me
They will be dead by sundown
I can do nothing to save them
They do not care
I probably shouldn’t share this one, but it so made me laugh.
Rory’s first day at New College. I miss the kid he used to be. I often feel these days simultaneously proud and exasperated. I’m pretty sure he’s a terrific person, but I don’t get to see enough of that guy. I get to see the expressionless, “I have nothing to say to you” person, the one who views any question as an interrogation & takes offense at the slightest insult. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around him and then every once in a while we have a conversation about something like “esoteric happy endings” and I’m reminded that he’s still in there. So today was a mix of bad and good, but at the end of the day, I’m leaving him in a place that I think will suit him well. I’m optimistic for the future!
Is it funny? Maybe not really? But sort of, definitely sort of. I laughed, anyway, and it wasn’t even bitter laughter. I guess maybe it’s actual irony.
I was trying to explain to Suzanne recently how I felt about him and our relationship (lack thereof) these days. I told her that when Rory was a newborn, I thought he was the most beautiful baby — glorious, gorgeous, amazing, so incredibly darling and delightful. Probably ten years later, I could look at his newborn photos and roll my eyes at myself. He was a newborn baby, born via natural childbirth after a long labor. He was squashed and splotchy and wrinkled, absolutely the little old man style of newborn, and definitely not beautiful. But I could still remember how it felt to look at him and believe that he was gorgeous.
Up until a year ago, that was how I felt about him as a person. Sure, there were obviously moments like that first day of college, but I believed deeply, profoundly, with all my heart, that there was an incredible person inside of him, someone funny and sweet and loving and clever and kind. And now… well, now I know that person only exists in my imagination. The person I thought he was wouldn’t have ignored my phone calls and emails and text messages. Or the stocking stuffers I sent him, which would have made Imaginary Rory laugh.
And Imaginary Rory — well, Imaginary Rory would have known that Zelda died, because someone would have told him, believing that he would care, and Imaginary Rory would have reached out. Imaginary Rory would have wanted to tell me that he was sad, too, that he remembered Zelda with love. Imaginary Rory would have reminded me of how fun she was as a puppy, and Imaginary Rory would have listened while I cried and told me that he wished he could be here to hug me.
But all that is Imaginary Rory. Actual Rory is that guy from the first day of New College. I’m coming to terms with that, slowly but steadily.
Somewhere along the way of his long silence, I found his girlfriend’s twitter account and was stunned to discover her level of drug use and alcohol use. And you know, no one is in a relationship with a heavy substance abuser and not abusing substances themselves. So is that an explanation for who he grew up to be? Maybe. Maybe someday I’ll get that Step 9 phone call. Or maybe not. Maybe he just is who he is, and that’s who he chooses to be. Either way, I’m working my way through my grief and someday, well, someday I’ll find the other side.
The other day, Suzanne and I made one of our rare trips to CostCo, and I asked if she wanted to get a rotisserie chicken. Up until the week before her death, rotisserie chicken was one of the few foods that Zelda would reliably eat. The other animals all like it, too, right down to the chickens who LOVE tearing apart the carcass. Rotisserie chicken day is always an excellent day at the Mighty Small Farm.
She said, “Yes? But I don’t want you to be sad.”
I don’t think I said it this articulately, but I responded with something like, “I’ve had enough practice with grief by now to know that the only way out is through. You don’t get to make the feelings go away by avoiding them. They only go away when you’re finished with them.”
I’m not finished yet.
Someday soon, though.