Repeating the theme of my annual post, for me this weekend is The New Year.
December 31st is new year’s eve on the calendar. But in my head and of my body clock, Labor Day is my true New Year’s Eve. This goes back to my boarding school days when we prepared to return to the dormitory with new shoes and notebooks; clean sheets and clothes; and much anticipation about what the the year ahead would bring. Resolutions were part and parcel of living in to the next few months as well. In those days: do homework better. No fooling around. Be more respectful. Nowadays: Row more. Eat better. Drink less. Take better care of Mother. And, this year: blog more. I don’t care if nobody reads my blog. For me, it is a gratifying form of expression especially in the face of writer’s block. So, to all my friends: Happy New Year!!
When you watch a bunch of boys graduate from high school amidst an incredible, nurturing, and pastoral community (and in a grand setting) it is hard not to absorb the feelings and vibrations of happiness and love. The utter joy on the day itself and all of the events and ceremonial traditions leading up to it make it hard to perpetuate the focus inward (it's not about me, geewhiz).
It is called "commencement," after all: a beginning, a start, a launch.
... and I Know Most of the World Will Gloss Over These Last Two Posts
[but it does help to write it down with images.]
At last, I think I have figured most of it out. Maybe not all of it, but it's a breakthrough nonetheless.
"You don't realise how people give you purpose in life until you lose them,"
Those words are from Frieda Hughes, daughter of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. She was a toddler when her mother committed suicide. Frieda and her husband divorced, and her brother committed suicide within months of each event. This, in a short view, explains what I think I have been experiencing. Suddenly, I had no one to cook and care for. Then, I had no sweet dog to pet and walk.
Too, I am reminded of that great quote spoken by Susan Sarandon in the role of Beverly Clark in the 2004 movie Shall We Dance. "We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness."
So there. That's it. And I didn't have to spend a lot of money on therapy to figure it out! That is kind of cool, yes??
The events of the last six or so months has finally caught up with me. My home became emptier and emptier starting when last October John called me at the office to say he was going down to Chincoteague. I don’t know if he had been thinking about leaving for a while or whether it was a spontaneous act. He has always kept his cards close to his chest. His history has been that he contemplates decisions long and hard but doesn’t share....or not? When he left he didn’t even take his toothbrush. Was it a spontaneous act or one he thought out procedurally so that it wouldn’t raise analysis (on my part). He has been gone since October. Some time (not long) after that Molly started to decline. I think she became lonely - she lost her drinking buddy. The house was quiet and became more so. And now it is empty. The quiet wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the presence of a brick-sized rodent who became active about two weeks after she died and whom - luckily - has since been eliminated with no other traces of heirs, four-and-a-half weeks later. I am now rattled by the tiniest of “old house noises.” You know what those are. It can be the sound like a marble dropping on the floor, or the creaky stretch of wood bending due to temperature changes. My sleep is light. This week was particularly tough. I experienced episodes of, well, not nausea, but not vertigo either. Rather it was a rush - a flush? - a feeling as though the blood had been drained from my head. The school nurse checked my blood pressure and found it to be a little bit high but I wonder if this is a manifestation of anxiety. (Also it might be because - I am sure - due to diet and lack of exercise.) But still. And still.
It should be fun, spring break. But, after losing Molly, my spring break has been a time for me to focus on Mother. I had a mental list of the things to do that I think need immediate attention. We are up to date on her bills and we purged all of the junk mail and old catalogues. I didn’t feel well yesterday - it’s the two week anniversary of Molly - but we did go to the Safeway. I hope that we can tackle the laundry and/or files over the weekend.
Mother (in blue) on her ninetieth birthday last September.
Our week started with her obsession about the “black dog on the roof” across the street. There was no dog on the roof. It was a piece of equipment when coupled with a shadow and a rippling puddle appeared to her to be a black dog on the roof. It took me three days to persuade her that it was an optical allusion. She was also convinced that a neighbor stole her binoculars. I found them, later in a drawer. In the meantime, she lost her house keys which miraculously appeared four days later after scheduling and canceling a locksmith. I am not entirely convinced that she needs in-home care, yet. I am very sure, though, that she requires daily attention. I am afraid she will fall and injure herself. I am afraid of a lot of things! Luckily she is all about love, is enormously grateful for every little thing I do, and evens brags about me when we shop at the Safeway. ("I have the most wonderful daughter!")