Thursday, May 20, 2010

Going Upstairs

Okay, enough with all the feel sorry for myself because people love my money/stuff and not me crap.  (Just wish I actually had money to buy myself some artifical comfort with.  But I did get Rush tickets because I figured that for one, it's Rush and they are performing Moving Pictures in its entirety, how cool is that, and for two, if $200 is going to mean you can't make your mortgage, then you're in huge trouble anyway, so might has well rock out on the way to the poorhouse.)  But, it's time to put all of that aside and get on with things.

Wait.  What things?  What is it exactly I have to get on with now?  No Kelsey to worry over, Marissa is grown and increasingly figuring out things for herself, Greg and I are at a temporary impasse - not fighting, making passable conversation about household affairs and sports, but not much else - work is just what it always is (lots and lots of it, but none of it particularly challenging and certainly not adding anything to the state of the universe), no diabetic dog, and no Mother.

There is still the challenge of trying to jam all of Mother's things into a house already too full of things.  Her little secretary's desk that Uncle Bill and Aunt Ginny found for her is still sitting sort of forlornly in front of the fireplace because I simply cannot think of a single legitimate place to put it without getting rid of some other piece of furniture that was likely hers or belonged in Greg's family.  But, I won't get rid of it.  One of the very last things she said to me was to ask about it.  She wanted it to be in my house and repeatedly demanded that I get it out of storage.  When I would protest that there was no room, she would tell me, "Well, you'll just have to make room."  Oh, okay, Mom, I'll just wave the magic wand and make the house bigger.

Yet, it is an adorable little desk.  I actually really like it and want it.  It's just that it brings our desk total to five.  Three people live here.  I'm sitting on the sofa to write this.  When I worked at home, I actually used a desk to give myself some discipline and have an actual office space to feel as though I was "at work" even though it was likely I was wearing pajama pants with cartoon dogs on them.  I don't work from home anymore.  This fifth little desk is an indulgence of sorts.  I am keeping it to please a woman who isn't around anymore to worry over it, and because it is something that she valued.  So, it stays.  And I'm keeping all Mom and Dad's old slides and clippings and trunks and boxes full of other things that really have no practical purpose other than they give me a piece of my family.

Add to all of Mother's belongings Marissa's dorm room when she came home for the summer, and there was really only one thing to do:  reclaim the upstairs.  That dusty, forlorn part of the world we all but abandoned a year ago.

Let me begin by acknowledging what some people may be wondering:  it's been almost a year.  Aren't you over it yet?  No.  I don't think, based on what I saw of my aunt and uncle who lost their son in Vietnam, you ever get over it.  And, would I want to?  Not really.  She was my child.  I gave birth to her.  There is a hole in my heart.  I don't really want anything else there that isn't my daughter.  What you do is find a place in your head that allows you to carry on.

But, it's still fresh for all of us.  Somedays more than others.  Some of the familial meltdowns we've had lately are illustration enough of that.  Is that weird or unusual?  Not from what I have learned.  Quite the contrary.  I remember my reaction to the first book on grieving I read.  The author had lost her 18-year old son.  She makes a statement in the introduction (stop me if I've told you this before) that she noticed after four years she began to feel better.  Four years?!  I was appalled when I read that in the early days of my grief.  I couldn't possibility begin to imagine feeling that way for that long.  There would be no way to survive that.  Eleven months later I don't feel quite like I did then, but I don't feel any where close to "over it" or even passingly normal.  This is all complicated and a blog post in and of itself, but suffice it to say for now that it's been both the longest and the fastest eleven months of my life.  Bottom line is this:  the passage of time in no way diminishes how I feel about the shadows lurking in the corners of those rooms where my kids went through so much.

Yet, at some point, somebody had to have the courage to really do it.  To really say, "This is my space, and I vanquish you, bad memories."  Like I'm sort of constantly seeing lately, it was Marissa who had the courage to lead the way...

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