One Week LaterJune 19, 2008
You are darlings. Thank you for your kind emails -- they mean the world to me. They ARE hard to read sometimes, though, because you're SO nice, so you understand why I closed comments on that last post. Would have made it too easy for you to be kind, and I just couldn't bear all that. The emails were wonderful, though.
It sucks. That's what it comes down to. It just sucks. I've hit a point where I have decided bed is the best place to be. The memorial is this Saturday, and I have to go back to work in another week, and I'm looking forward to rejoining the human race. However, for now, while work is paying me to be bereaved (a civilized idea, really), I am lying in bed all day, knitting and watching ANTM and Brothers & Sisters on the computer. Brothers & Sisters, a fine show, is very hard to find illegally on the internet, so hard that I have LEARNED HOW TO TYPE IT IN CHINESE. Or at least, I've figured out what it looks like and then I have copied and pasted it into Chinese TV sites, and voila! There my season 2 episodes are! Free of charge, subtitled in Chinese. A valuable talent, I know.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED THROUGH ALL THIS:
1. Family is all-important, and I have the best one. I hope you think I'm wrong, that yours is the best, but I'm not wrong. Even missing the sun of our solar system, the planets are still spinning (I almost minored in astronomy -- I understand the physical implications of that and I'm ignoring them for the sake of the metaphor) and there is much, much love. So proud of them.
2. Sorrow does not preclude joy. That one's a shock -- I didn't expect to laugh on the very day she died, let alone every day since. I'd been so lucky that I'd never suffered a major loss until I was 35. But I thought when it happened it would change me, make me into a sorrowful person. No. It's made me sad, and at the moment, depressed and lethargic and only able to identify with stupid TV, but I'm still me, and I still take delight in the same things I always have. They just have a low-pitched humming underneath. Salted caramel ice cream is still so good I want to cry, only now sometimes I do.
3. Greeting cards. Let's talk. This is something I didn't know, and it seems so obvious, but Lala says she didn't know it either, so maybe you don't. Now, I'm only talking greeting cards, not the lovely emails and comments I've received from you, my readers. Internet notes to friends online who have lost a loved one (or are going to) -- you've done everything right. Even the ones earlier that didn't quite understand Mom was dying (and how could you? I was vague on the point for a while), those made me feel loved.
But the mailed cards. Oy. It got to a point where we screened every card, and only read Mom the good ones, or left out the maudlin words as we read. We stuck the other ones up on the wall, but only after we showed them to each other and rolled our eyes. So many wonderfully-intentioned people wrote treacly cards, invoking the Lord's mercy, telling Mom to Feel Better! The Lord has a plan! Get Well Soon! Listen, if the family has invoked the word Hospice, the patient WILL NOT GET BETTER. You telling us miracles happen in a Hallmark font does not make us (or her) feel better, it pisses us off.
You know what helps? A card, written by hand, remembering things. One of my aunts wrote, "I remember when Danny brought you home. You were so beautiful, and you both sat on the porch and sang the washing-machine song, and the shearing song." Another friend from New Zealand wrote, remembering Mom's "beautifully fringed eyes and abundant hair," and the fact that no matter how hard she studied, she could never catch up with Mom, always head of the class (natch).
Mom loved this kind of card, called them the most Christian of the bunch, and smiled when they were read to her. And we loved getting them, hearing about her, people remembering specific, wonderful things about her.
So when you write these sympathy cards, if the person is on hospice, just recall the good things, the things that make that person unique and special. Send them love. Later, to the family, write more memories, of funny things that happened, or things specific to a time and a place and a person. People will be so grateful. We were.
4. Wacky Hijinks! Lala does everything she can to cheer me up, including what she did at 3am this morning (which was exactly one week to the hour since Mom died, but I didn't realize that then).
She normally sleeps like a rock, so it startled me when she sat straight up in the dark. She said, in an alarmed voice, "UH-OH!"
I sat up with her and said, "What is it?"
She said, extremely worried, almost panicked, "I can't see!"
I reached behind me and turned on the light.
"Oh!" Ultimate relief in her voice. "Wow!"
I laughed so hard that I had to put my head down, but apparently that sounded like crying, which confused her, and then her look of confusion slayed me even more. Good stuff. She doesn't remember a bit of it this morning.
5-100. I have learned way more than this. But I'm done typing. Valuable ANTM time is slipping away as I write....