Friday, June 1, 2012

Past the Holiday

Glad that's over.  That Memorial Day holiday that everyone else in my office so looked forward to.  It seemed like a long three days to me, even though I actually attempted to work through part of it (although I spent Tuesday tearing down and re-doing what I had done - my head was clearly not on the task).   As I walked Cheyenne and Chappy around the block Tuesday morning, I noticed how absolutely quiet the neighborhood was.  Trucks I am used to still seeing parked in driveways were gone:  the hard-working blue collar plumbers, electricians and general contractors that populate my neighborhood pulled out early to make up for lost time, it would seem.  So, not having to dodge other people's dogs out for a morning pee or drag Chappy back in from the middle of the road where he inevitably seems to want to gravitate, I was left to muse on the last three days that culminated with Kelsey's birthday and the following is what I came up with.

First of all, I will acknowledge right out of the gate that for all my bravado about being mostly through the primary grieving process, that was a rough one.  Why that was puzzled me, but here's what I concluded:  the other two times we had to endure the day, there was plenty of stuff going on to distract us.  Last year, Marissa and Greg were driving the last stretch to get here, so I took myself to the zoo.  The year before that, we hosted one final Memorial Day/group birthday celebration for the Veldman relatives whose birthdays all fall so close together (May 24, June 2, 5 and 25) because we knew it would be the last time we ever could.  This year, here the three remaining of us are together, but with no particular obligation or plans.  For the first time we had to think about how to get through it.  And, like most major things the first time you try it, there was some major room for improvement.

The Pirates were in the midst of a six game home stand, so I gently coaxed Greg to go to a few, at least one or two.  But he wanted none of it, using the heat as an excuse.  While it is true that the conditions were oppressively humid and relatively hot for early summer in the 'Burgh, I knew it was a rationalization only because a) we come from Texas, this heat ain't nothin'! and b) if he really were intimidated by the weather, we can pretty much kiss the rest of the season goodbye, and I know perfectly well that he'll want to go to other games whenever I give him the nod that we can take the time and money to go.  He watched them on TV, so I also know he is actually interested.  Watching baseball on TV is one kind of boring, watching the Pirates...well, that takes some real dedication, so if you're willing to do that and your spouse offers to go to a couple actual games and you turn it down, you're either really sick or really depressed.  He didn't seem sick.  I can only conclude that doing anything that smacked of relaxation or fun seemed really wrong to him or he couldn't face crowds of happy families.  Maybe both.

Marissa struggled a lot.  She had some fairly substantial issues in her own life that happened to time out with the weekend, and her true touchstone wasn't there to discuss them with.  I could listen, but I'm not possibly going to have the kind of perspective she needed to hear at the moment.  Even above and beyond that, she seemed very intent to be away from us.  I'm not sure why; not sure she knows why.  Time will have to sort out all of the intense emotions I think before we can truly examine it and see what happened and how not to do whatever it is we did to one another again.

For my part, I know what to do for myself to get myself through times like these, which is stay really, really busy.  My struggle was not knowing how to include anyone else in the trick.  It felt awkward and tense the entire long weekend.  Greg seemed to want to wallow in his sadness, Marissa - to my eyes - seemed overwhelmed with it, I was trying just to push past it by not thinking about it so I guess you'd say I was l the one in denial, and here we all were, bumping up against our competing wants and needs.

I finally got Greg out of the house Monday night.  He agreed to go out to eat.  All the little local places we like were closed, so after driving all over the North Hills, we landed at Chili's, which was actually sort of unnerving in its own way, looking so much like all the Chili's do in Texas, and the experience isn't nearly as much fun as it is in the little hole-in-the-wall places I'm coming to love around here, but he was up and moving so that was the main thing.  While we sat there over our meals, he commented that he hadn't heard from anyone besides his oldest sister, and I couldn't help but think of my mother again and all those times I disappointed her by not taking careful note of all the milestones of my dad's passing.  And I thought to myself that he's forgotten what it is like to be on the other side of grief, busy with our lives, taking our extra day off almost like it is stolen time.  And he's not thinking about the fact that no matter what anyone would try and say to him, he's still going to be sad.  We are past the point, I think, where we can realistically think our family and friends can know what to do for us or what we need or don't need, because how can they when we sometimes don't know what to do for ourselves?

What I didn't say to him is that I think the person he probably most wanted to hear from has not moved on from us.  Tired and a little tipsy from the night before, it took a long time to come around, but at some point in the morning Kelsey's cat Tum-Tum began wailing the way she used to when Kelsey would come home until she got Kelsey's attention.  She had been going on like that for some time, I estimated a half hour or forty-five minutes, when I finally couldn't stay in the ether any longer and pulled myself up to look at the clock and call to her.  It was 4:45, which meant that I figure she started that mournful wail at around 4:00.  Kelsey was born at 4:04 in the morning.  Tum-Tum remained agitated until sunrise, then settled down as though the world was completely rosy.  Whatever she saw or whatever riled her up, I'll never know for sure, but I have my theories...

No comments:

Post a Comment