My mother in-law, former mother in-law, friend for 30 years, is going into hospice this month some time, if not this week. I have tried to start writing about her, and have over the years, certainly, but it is currently too raw, and she’s not dead yet, and so i want to spend my time trying to get her on the phone. Real always being preferable to memory. always. i say. my heart is wounded and throbs.
don’t you say the real is more than the memory? don’t you? the touch? the skin? the shared space? laughing? hugging?
I was there last wednesday, dropping off a lasagna and I sat and had a grilled cheese sandwich that my 88 year old father-in-law made for me when he heard I was coming over. Her memory is shot so he wasn’t at all sure I was actually coming, or what day I might be coming. We talked about my family, her cousins, death. I actually brought it up because 1. i had been thinking about my own, and 2. I think we should all talk to our elders about it. Expecting it is a whole different experience, I think, and I want to know what it is like.
I said that, for myself, I didn’t fear it, as long as I could remove my thoughts of the kids from the equation. Worrying about them ruined it all. She agreed, saying something along the lines of ‘what the hell else can you do? You die? you die!’.
I am a thousand times certain that I have loved her and been loved by her for 30 years. How lucky am I ?
finally getting my former mother in law on the phone. she remembers me. and we laugh like no time has passed. she threatens to kill me and I almost pee myself. This is the goodness, the love.
growing things. watering the plants and watching them change. remembering what waters me and how i change, despite appearances.
lighting a candle when i’m working. boy, does it draw me in. so ancient a tool.
the feeling of water filling me up and spilling out my ears when i think i might not be able to hear her voice on the phone many more times. (its not pleasing, no, but the satisfaction is that the grief is not here yet. i will not borrow it early.)
using my new workspace and staring at the bookshelves. the words i can pick out over there are like this: dragons, ice, ashes, frost, fire, dawn. It is its own fantasy. There is also auden, o’connor, rowling, smithsonian, sibley, brewer, and keene.
I’m taking my christmas tree down, a little earlier than planned, honestly. because i need the space for the next season, the new growth. i’ll have to live with the discomfort of the empty space for a little bit before i fill it again. isn’t that always the way?
a bath. a bath always pleases me. today i will cry about my mother-in-law, despite my not borrowing grief. i’m not, i’m really not. i have bath bombs and salts. and hot water. and that’s all that i need.
it pleases me that i made it to ten. that i’m wearing two sweaters and a scarf and i feel naked without my hat. it pleases me that i’m letting go of so many things, and i can see how many more there are to go. and then there will be that unbearable lightness. and i will float like a feather on a breeze.
that is the shortlist, my lovies. the life is good. and rich and full of tragedy and more life than we can handle. isn’t it, though?
This was a prompt given to me by the lovely Madeleine Rains. She is a writer and a maker of amazing foods, as well as the leader of many a cleanse. She can be found here.
I have been built to carry all these things.
I carry an attempt at saving, a weight of loss, a lifeforce shared, three times over.
I carry my legs, strong still after all this time.
I carry the weight in my gut of an anxious worry. I carry lavender and lawnmowers, chickens with wobbly legs. I carry cats and sick dogs. I have been built to, I am a Mack truck of myself. I carry the clothing that stretches and clings. I carry the excitement of a camp, full of kids and freedom. I carry the childhood of the evening street lights, the hidden places in the woods. I carry hope, still, that there is something even better. I carry interruption of all sorts, the disarray of the mothering. I carry the consistency of the adult, the flawed and cracked vessel of the human.
I carry the wistfulness of the beautiful things, the knowing that I may have to throw all the rugs outside come spring, and let them become the dirt. I am built for this, this carrying. This toss.
I am built for this silent pause, this stare out the window, this barely listening focus. I am built for this. This thoughtful moment. This. Expansion and introversion. Inversion. I am built for metaphor and word play, world play.
Sigh. I am built for this rambled briar of thought. I am. The tangles we extricate ourselves from, what makes me. I am built for this. For these ideas to keep buckling and twisting. I am here for it. I am here.
my eyes are tired, they’ve got that slight delay to them, the blink is slower. i feel that.
pride. i’m proud that yesterday was so nice. i had a good time. i lost my shit around 4 trying to assemble the rowing machine. but i did it. my first ever solo voyage. and the kids accepted my apology and i lay under the incredibly soft and weighted blanket my sister got me and i cried a little. there’s no one to ask for any help, or even any sympathy and sometimes that gets to me. i feel it. self-pity party. in my freak out i did mention ‘real subtle-like’ some of the reasons why i might be so tired to the kids. it is good for them to gain some knowledge on christmas day. i’m sure they won’t remember. but still.
its legit cold this morning, and i put on my boots and got the trash can out in time. the cold was good for my spirit. i think it cleared out some stuff. certainly made me realize that pajamas are not really winter weather gear. the sharpness on my skin was a good reminder of what is, and what is not.
the coffee is so strong. the mug is porcelain poured over something else, smooth. i have no idea if its porcelain, its just smooth, with an imprinted, ‘christmas red’ design and i love it, and spent minutes this morning wondering if it were green would it last longer seasonally… like, could i use it into spring without feeling ‘behind’ in cleaning up, somehow. (i do not clean up quickly, but i do need another clearing of house some time in january, so it does get moved away)
my skin is still soft, and smells good. oh my. soft. like old-lady soft. bring on the pastel mints.
i keep having to consciously pull my shoulders down and relax my arms. i’m carrying some physical stress and I’m not sure what thats about, or why i keep getting wound up. once an hour at least.
i just-about sliced the tip of my finger off last week (with scissors, thank you very much) when i was unpackaging a sled. it still hurts. it probably was a stitch-able thing but whatever and its my thumb. everytime i bump it my stomach lurches. i’ve had three freaking babies, folks. what the hell. it hurts distractingly. Its healed up mostly but good lord.
i watered all my plants today, it felt like feeding chickens, taking care of babies. i was born to be a mom and i didn’t know it didn’t have to do with kids until after i started having kids. how bout that? i’m just that loving. i love my friends, my plants, my animals, my strangers. its just THAT obnoxious. gah.
i always put oranges in stockings. yeah, old school but man, the texture of that skin. can’t you feel it and smell it now?
i’m so damn lucky. i know it. my kids are awesome and healthy and i got to see my mom and sister (windows open, everyone masked the whole time, even kids y’all) yesterday. i feel the luck and love.
today i’m going to read, and feed them and maybe get them out to the beach for a beauty walk. but thats it, and except for reading, the rest is negotiable. 😉
i missed yesterday and thought about it a few times. i slept downstairs on the sofa by the tree and woke up before everyone. it was blissy but not necessarily good sleep. i saved my energy for the inevitable ‘will you play this new ooo with me?’ i did, i played, and then i said no, and then i ‘napped’ and then fed them. it was a win for the feeding, after all that. so i forgive myself the miss of not writing. life and all.
Dickie December? Yes. Its funny because my kid requested two pieces of Dickie merchandise for Christmas. and also, because life is dick-ish currently.
Nothing is really wrong, no worries.
I had a list of beautiful words, to say, to think about, to feel, and I was going to give it to you, but instead I fell into sobs in the Target parking lot. lots of them.
and herein lies todays post.
none of us are really okay. its been too long, we are missing people. we are getting old. we know that people are suffering in big ways around us, if not in our own home. My kids want game systems and there might be people hungry on my street right now. (sidenote: the parents of my kid’s pack have decided not to buy it, so i am granted reprieve from the fear that my kid will be the only one without- which was what was driving me deep down. the fear of being the failure mom.)
I’m sure that people in healthy relationships are relying on each other, and yes, i think that probably helps a whole lot. So I am missing that little bit.
But I’ve got great resources, and I’m 46 and I’ve been through this kind of thing before. In the car, while crying, I contacted my health insurance to find out who i’m covered to see as far as therapists. Texted a friend, and gave up on going in to Target. I hadn’t made a list and I would have spent a bunch of money on myself when really, I need to fucking focus on getting Christmas done, and not buy myself another scarf/lipstick/sweater I’m not really going to wear, just ’cause its pretty. I literally don’t wear any makeup at all, and I’m coveting lipsticks lately.
The subject of the overwhelm is what we all feel right now PLUS:
I stepped on the scale and I’m five pounds OVER the number I cannot mention but have stayed at for an entire year. I have glaucoma and spent the morning having talks with my doctor and having stinging stuff put in my eye and facing the fact that on the day i can’t drive after the appt, i’m just going to sit in the car because I refuse to ask my 75 year old mother to drive me home. I’m single momming and deeply worried that I am not enough. For me, the anxiety of the covid era has WAY WAY exaggerated my low self-esteem and I heard myself talking to myself (yes, this is a thing) about how I didn’t know why I was taking this new job because I would do a crap job anyhow. (oh?) I’m in a new and very beginning stage dating situation which might not even be dating honestly and I can’t offload all this crap on him just yet. (see previous self-esteem problem).
Its truly all interwoven. And I’m just succumbing to it today. The kids are at their dad’s til 8 or so, so I can go take a bath and work on re-writing the thing thats been edited five times, again. Essentially I am removing my self and my writing voice from it, which is what I’ve been slowly realizing. Just erasing. bummer.
So there. thats a truth. I have enough. I give. I’m okay almost all the time. But I’m worn thin. We need to be holding hands right now, but a text message will do.
(not me. really, you don’t need to text me, i’m heading upwards. send a text to everyone on your list. do it.)
There is still joy. There is. Look at this photo. I’m the biggest goob you know, really. And the man who I’m doing all that re-editing for sent me a hundred bucks today because he knows how hard i’ve been working. I’m going to take a bath now. Breathe deep, my friend told me. Breathing interupts the anxiety/overwhelm. Just Breathe.