Nov 5 2010

oh life, it’s bigger

Bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to…
(lines from an R.E.M. song)

This is a story about my mom. My mom and my dad, really, two people who are bigger, in all the best possible of ways. The lengths that they will go to astound me. They are givers, my parents.

Recently, a friend of my mom’s died after a long battle with cancer. She was young, too young to go, only in her late 50s, but she went all the same. To tell the truth, I don’t really know all that much about this friend, E., I know that she and my mom used to work together, and after they went their separate ways career-wise, they stayed in touch and would occasionally go to the movies or have a girls night out.

Last week my mom told me that this friend was nearing the end, that it was just a matter of time. And she told me that she was going to go to the hospital and sit with her. And then the next time I talked to her, the next day, or two days later, she told my that E. had passed on, while my mom was there, at the hospital.

But she didn’t tell me this part of the story until last night, another day in which she gave up eight hours of her time to help me and my sister with a jewelry show.

Apparently, on the day before she died, my mom and E.’s husband were sitting in the room with her and my mom was wishing out loud that there was something she could do to ease E.’s discomfort and continued on to tease that maybe a glass of beer would help.

And let me just add here that my mom does not drink, I have only seen her have a drink once in my entire life.

E.’s husband mentioned that she didn’t like beer, but that she really loved strawberry dacquiri wine coolers.

That was all my mom needed to hear. She went out to the desk and asked the nurse if it would be okay to bring one in for E. The nurse checked into the matter and basically gave permission in an “I didn’t see anything” kind of way.

So my mom, who does not drive, went down to find my father who was waiting in the lobby with a book, and asked him to take her to the liquor store. The liquor store because my mom, who does not drink, didn’t realize that they sell wine coolers in the grocery store. And of course, the clerk at the liquor store set her straight, and then my father drove her to the grocery store, and mission accomplished, they returned to the hospital with a strawberry dacquiri wine cooler poured into a soft drink bottle. Just in case.

And so E. had her wine cooler, or a few sips of it, and it put a tiny smile on her face.

The next day, E. left this world. Afterward, her family passed that same bottle around the room and each one took a sip, as a toast to this woman they loved.

That’s my mom. And her bigger-than-anything heart.

She just kills me.

May 23 2010

the oh so bearable
lightness of being

Shadows that move, across the floor, up a wall, out the door. Creeping silently through life when they think no one is looking. Patterns that whisper, songs that recall, lines that pop in your head from a poem you learned at eleven.

I am stuck in a pattern of rinse and repeat. I walk in circles, accomplish nothing, bite my nails, pull my hair, open my mouth in a silent scream.

There is nothing there.

Of course, there is something there. But it is not what I want, not what I need, or not what I think it should be. No matter what it is,
it is none of these things. Nothing can assuage me. I look to the shadows, deeper, trying to discern what lies there, beneath the surface, this unrest, this revelation that refuses to reveal.

There is nothing there.

I run through a forest at night in my sleep and wish for someplace sunny. When the sun rises, I hide beneath the covers, wanting only the comfort of darkness. I am cold. I am hot. I am never just right. Not comfortable, not complacent, not appeased.

There is always something missing. The key is misplaced, stuck in a jar in the back of some cupboard long ago, owner gone but not forgotten, no longer here, no longer able to open this memory, that possibility. Perspective. A door that stays closed, sealed shut, forgotten in the shadows.

I think of a dream I had, years ago, now. After a friend ended his life. A dream I have never forgotten. He stood there, in this dream, at the top of the hill near the house I grew up in, the house my parents live in, still. His hair was long, wild, his clothes, dirty.
He smiled.

I am okay, he said. Just that.

I am okay.

It was a gift, that dream, a moment when the shadows receded to let a light shine through, a light that no one, no one was watching for.

When he did it, took that gun and said goodbye, we were shocked. Shocked, but not surprised. Of course, we said, he was not fit for this world. No, we said, this world was not fit for him. There was no place for him, here. No sanctuary. It made sense in the way that things that can never make sense, will.

I think of him, sometimes. When I see a shadow on a wall that lets the light shine through. A light that no one, no one is watching for.

And yes.

I am okay.