Friday, April 16, 2010

More Things I'm Still Learning

After an Earthquake Comes Aftershocks

Who knew?  Which of us could have told you that Mother was the slender thread that kept the fabric of our lives together?  Not me, certainly.  I would have told you the opposite.  I would have said that, through no fault of her own, Mother kept things riled up.  Her disease kept me under constant stress and made it impossible for us to try and put the pieces of our shattered family back together.  However, a few weeks after her death, I have to say having her around and in our care meant we had a focus other than on what we lost when Kelsey died, and we had a purpose.  Now, without her, things seem to be in free fall.  Maybe it's all a bad dream.  All of it.  Big Ben, Santonio, Fast Willie going to Washington, Game One of the Ottawa-Pittsburgh series, and the rest of my personal life.  But, I kind of doubt it.  I think it's actually happening, and I'm just that screwed.

I can't tell you I was that surprised when it became apparent fairly quickly that Mother's death was a trigger to relive Kelsey's.  While the two situations were different in almost all respects, there were some things that just brought us face-to-face with the fact that we had just been through this.  I chose to have the same funeral home handle Mother's arrangements, so we shook the same hands, sat in the same little conference room and glanced over the same memorial book selection that we had done a few months before.  The same decision process had to be followed, even if all the decisions were radically different.  Trust me, planning your relatives' funerals is not something you want to get overly familiar with.  For me, I can say that every time I heard the very heart felt condolences of friends and family, I would think, "You have no idea.  This is nothing compared to what I've been through."  That would immediately be followed by a twinge of guilt, as though I was not sufficiently bereft of Mother.  Did I not love her as much as I should?  I hope I did, but I will readily confess that losing a parent completely pales in comparison to losing a child, and there's just no getting around that.  Mother, in her younger, pre-Alzheimer's years, would have known that to be true.  She had her own brand of sorrow along those lines.  Yet, with every mention of a death in the family there was that unspoken caveat, "...again."  Therefore, it should be no surprise that I was not the only one in the family who felt it.

I noticed it in Marissa while we were in Washington and she would mention Kelsey often.  Just in passing.  Neutral voiced memories of things they did when they were young or the way Kelsey thought or would react to a certain situation.  Things like that.  Nothing bitter, particularly sad, or uncomfortable at all in her tone that caught my attention.  But I noticed how often her name came up.

Greg, on the other hand, said very little.  He had flown in to DC separately from us, and was turning immediately around and flying home after the services.  I wondered more than once why he even bothered coming.  If it was to comfort me, he could have saved the fare, because I spent more time worrying over him than anything else.  Part of the sacrifice of having eight dogs, none of which are particularly young, is that we don't travel together often.  One or the other of us generally has to stay behind to be a zookeeper.  And, given the fact that I am the one with the affection for out of town sports, it's usually me that goes.  Marissa is more often than not my companion.  So, Marissa and I have developed a level of comfort with one another on the road - more or less - that Greg and I do not have.  While Marissa and I are trying to build our travel resumes, he's become a home buddy.  His pleasures are simple and don't involve trying out new things.  As a result, he appeared to me to be uncomfortable, unduly tired and just plain out of his element.  I knew it wasn't all just because of the trip.  He didn't have to say it, he was thinking about Kelsey too.

I described it recently as a bad acid flashback.  I've never dropped acid, but really, what else could it be like!  Clearly, Death was hanging around us like a cloud.  Again.  And he wasn't a welcome guest. 

Things eroded from there. 

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