Saturday, September 11, 2010

This Awful Week

Wow, what a week this has been.  And to have it end up on the 9th anniversary of 9/11.  I wonder if somehow it's karmic - but then, again, maybe it was just a crappy week that happened to coincide with the most horrific event most Americans have witnessed.  Sitting here safely and securely on my back porch while friends and families of over 3,000 people commemorate the day they lost them suddenly and violently, and while people who live not a mile from me pick through the ruins of their flooded homes, I know I have nothing to complain about.  Not in relation to this particular week, that is.  Whoever or whatever it is that looks after me actually did a great job of it this week because the world certainly  tossed some challenges their way.

In light of the particular anniversary that it is, I might generally save this whiny, woes-is-me post for another time or suck it up and get past it, but I've pondered what this week was and my reaction to it and realized it's part of the large grieving process that I'm going through.  If I really think someone in my position will someday read this and try and find a moral to their own story, then I guess I need to lay all the stages out there for examination.  As I have often said, everyone's journey through loss is a different one, but there are some similar road markers along the way.

So, as condensed as I can make it:  on Monday, while I entertained my Mother-in-law, trying to dance around the fact that I have a garage full of moving boxes since my husband is too timid to break the moving news to her, the brother of my friend passed away.  You may remember that I mentioned him a few weeks ago when he was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The disease did its work on him in a horribly efficient manner.  The shock to that family, still reeling from just learning their brother, husband, father had a terminal illness to dealing with his loss was palatable.  And hard to watch from afar - for me anyway.  I have this odd detachment lately that allows me to get up in the morning and carry on, laughing even at someone's ribald joke at work or to talk sports on the eve of the NFL returning (thank God!), but to not really feel anything too deeply.  Unfortunately, when that facade cracks, it's generally not to allow joy in, it's because something has made me so mad the anger pokes through or so sad the sorrow cloaks itself around me like a heavy blanket.  This was like that.  I feel so badly for the family, yet I also feel as though my feet are encased in concrete.  I am so weighed down by how it returned me to my own state of sorrow, I have not been able to reach out appropriately to people I've know for a decade and a half.  I did attend the funeral mass yesterday, a little shocked to see the staff of the same funeral home that handled Kelsey and Mother's affairs there.  I saw the funeral home listed in the obituary, but somehow it didn't hit me until I saw the sweet young woman who walked me through the final arrangements to send Mother back east standing there talking to my friend.  I maybe can't even tell you why, but that was not good for me, but I think I did okay after blinking a few times to shrug off the weird sense of shock, I told her, "We've got to stop meeting like this."

Of course, with my boss at home trying to both work remotely, but make arrangements, grieve, etc., it was important I suck it up and be at work.  Mother Nature had other plans.  I was a single dog mom this week, having kissed Greg goodbye early Tuesday morning as heavy rains began to envelope the area.  He was on his way to Pittsburgh, a list of ten houses packed away, tasked with picking one out of that ten, which had been culled down from over 500 that I'd been sent to view over the last couple of months.  I felt that vague sense of worry that I always do when someone I love leaves, intensified by the pre-dawn rain.  Little did I know that he was driving out of it and would be fine, I was being left alone here to deal with Tropical Storm Hermine.  I am not sure I've ever really understood what a flash flood truly is until this week.  The wall of water that crested the banks of Brushy Creek that fronts my subdivision and slammed its way down the little rural road that follows it was both awe-inspiring and frightening.  I told my cousin who checked in on me, seeing the news about the flood, that my neighbor's chain link fence looks as though a giant stepped on it, a forceful wall of water cresting the banks of the creek normally 20' from his house with such force it just buckled.  Places in the road appeared as though we had been hit by an earth quake, the road literally buckling up.  It was worse just north of us as the San Gabriel river did its best to wash away an entire community of mobile homes.  I have, in three decades here, never witnessed anything like this. For me personally, I have a few relatively minor post-flood issues.  The biggest worry is that the remnants of Mother's furniture that Greg had plopped in a back carport were soaked in the torrential rain - I couldn't keep them dry if I'd even tried, so I didn't try - now I'm scared to go back there and see what they're like.  If they're ruined, I'll have to deal with somehow getting rid of them as opposed to selling them at a fund raiser garage sale in a couple of weeks.  But, compared to people in my own community having lost everything, six muddy dogs and some ruined furniture that I didn't want anyway is nothing short of awesome.  Flanked on the rear of my property by a small creek and the front of the neighborhood by a large creek that flooded with such force it was knocking people's fences over, I think I'm golden.  However, I was also barricaded in on Wednesday morning.  Both creeks having flooded the only two ways in and out of my neighborhood.  So, on the one week when I really needed to be working long and hard, I was delayed and then spent the day worrying, as the rain continued, if I'd be able to get back to the dogs in the evening.  But I did.  And a shout out to whatever road and bridge crew who have been working so diligently to clean up the incredible wall of debris I saw when I finally broke out of here on Wednesday.

No, the floods were a minor annoyance.  What toppled me over was when Greg called me from Pittsburgh Thursday evening, having spent the day with our Realtor there touring the ten houses that made the short list and said the damning words, "I haven't found our house yet."  He rejected each and every one for various reasons.  Some highly legitimate, some a bit nit-picky, in my opinion.  A woman I worked with the next day exclaimed, "He doesn't want to move!"  She verbalized what I have to confess I had already thought.  I wondered if he looked at the homes with such jaundiced eyes because he passively doesn't really want to do this.  But, maybe it's just because he's looking at it from the standpoint that this is our last move, it needs to be the right house, and I'm just looking at it from the standpoint of, "Get me there, and I'll deal with everything else later!" Whatever the case may be, for the first time in a difficult week, tears slipped out.  I was so upset, I forgot that my starting wide receiver on my fantasy football team is Sidney Rice, who is injured, and I didn't trade him out before the game kicked off.  So, to pour salt in my wounds, I lost those fantasy points.  All I really know for sure is that I have never felt so far away from my goal since we began, and never have I felt so trapped here.  Greg did what a wall of water couldn't.  He damn well better be traveling with a Sidney Crosby jersey in tow for me to make up for it.

Anyway, the hunt begins anew.  My Realtor was patient and sweet, assuring me the right house is out there.  I remind myself there was not a specific time frame on the move anyway.  The clouds have rolled away so no satellite disruption on the eve of my needing it for football.  I won't be in Pittsburgh for the season opener, but I'll see it like I have always seen them.  I am still a legitimate member of the Steeler Nation, just one living in a foreign land.  I tell myself all these things and remind myself of all the real pain and suffering that surrounds me on this somber anniversary.  But my pity party continues nonetheless.  This was just an awful week.

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