You thought I was joking, about that snow pile, didn’t you.
Well, there it is. Coffee cup, plastic bottle and all, having begun its transformation into – a big, nasty, filthy pile of crap.
It has been well above freezing for three days running, and it has been raining most of the day.
And there it sits, getting filthier and gathering more crap.
How did something once so pristine get so nasty so fast?
And how did I go back to being a quivering blob of nerves, a self-doubting, fearful, pull-the-covers-over-my-head-and-hide, weak, weepy wimp?
I wasn’t expecting this. I thought I had snapped out of it.
Was it that my daughter decided it was time to “graduate” from her weekly art therapy session? She’d been going for at 7 or 8 years. Suddenly decided she was done. (I asked her and she said it was OK if I wrote about that.)
OK, fine. That’s a mature, adult decision. You’ve gotten all you could out of it, so time to move on.
So why, after weeks where I thought the waterworks were finally shut off, did I break down, just by saying thanks and good-bye to the art therapist? It’s not like we won’t see her around.
Was it the sense that something was exhausted? Empty? That my daughter had talked as much as she could and made as much art as was in her about her grief?
I don’t know and I still can’t say – but tears are coming as I write about it.
To top it off, we got in the car to head home and “Wind Beneath My Wings” came on the radio when the car started.
My late mother-in-law, whom we hadn’t seen in more than a decade, and whose death Mike learned of a year after the fact by Googling (long story) used to say, “I don’t want anyone crying at my funeral. Just play that Wind Beneath My Wings song.”
Yeah, right, Rose. That one won’t send anyone to the tissue box.
So blubbering turned into sobs, right there in the car, right in front of my sweet, angelic daughter. Car crying used to be private, so I could get it out while neither of them could see me. But now she’s right next to me, digging around for tissues, handing them to me.
When the blubbering started, I was thinking about Mike, and how our daughter had been talking herself through living each day without him, trying so hard not to be sad but to remember the happy times. I’m so proud of her.
Me? Not so much. I was thinking about how inadequate I felt and all the things I could have done better and about how much I miss him, too. And something about our daughter taking this step, away from one form of help, ending a routine that started when Mike was still with us, just hit me hard.
And then that song –
“Thank you, thank you, thank God for you….”
Was Rose thanking me?
I hadn’t thought of that.
Did I need to be thanked? For sticking with him and taking care of him? Not just when he was sick, but for our entire marriage?
Decades ago, she thanked me for that, when she came to help during one of the several occasions he “ran away from home.”
Did I need to be acknowledged for how hard it was then and and is now? “Single parenting” in the most extreme possible way?
“When people go to spirit heaven, they can’t come back.”
“No, sweetheart, they can’t. But their love is always with us.”
Grief doesn’t end. It resides. It is the house guest who never leaves, slouching on the couch, barely picking up its feet when you vacuum around it.
I have tried to freeze it over as much as I can. Bury it in projects, activity, busywork.
But the wind will blow, the rain will fall, the thaw will come, and expose all the crap. The raw, untidy baggage – pain, need, loneliness, inadequacy, weakness.
Despair. Bleakness. Gray days passing, one after the other, where my greatest accomplishment is not backing into the five-foot snow pile at the end of the driveway.
I heard this Leonard Bernstein song on the radio for the first time ever a few days ago: (the video might start with an ad, sorry, but the soprano is so good, it’s worth it):
“Still, we know that someday soon, spring will come again.
Summer has to follow.
Birds will come again, nesting in the hollow.
Once again, we’ll know all we know, that after winter, comes spring.”
Counting on it, and hanging on, I remain,
Your cracked, broken, hoping for kintsukuroi,