Angelic Daughter and I had a quiet 4th. We skipped the parade. I don’t like crowds and neither does she, and our little hometown parade has been essentially the same for the past 60 years and more. Pass.
Instead, we followed our new tradition of picnicking by Mike’s grave. It was a mercifully cool, cloudy day, and very quiet. Strangely quiet. There are usually several families out there, observing the same tradition.
I put it down to the weather, and enjoyed the picnic.
When we got home, I checked my phone and found out about Highland Park.
I guess there was no one else in the cemetery because everyone had been asked to shelter in place until the shooter got caught.
Highland Park is about 5 miles away from my home.
The intersection where the suspected, now confessed, mass murderer was arrested (in what the internet quickly pointed out was a “white guy arrest,” sans gunshots, in sharp contrast to, oh, I don’t know, every single traffic stop of a Black man ever?) is about three miles away.
My Dad grew up in Highland Park, and went to high school there. We’d visit our Grandpa there nearly every weekend and major holiday, at his elegant, long gone, 1920’s Gatsbyesque house. Our favorite place to go for breakfast when Mike was alive is kitty-corner from the roof the shooter stood on to commit his psychotic act of terrorism.
With Uvalde and Buffalo barely in the rear view mirror, a Supreme Court majority of radical theocrats empowering zealots in state governments (who don’t know jack about ectopic pregnancies or other aspects of women’s health and clearly don’t care) to unleash a new inquisition against women and medical professionals, a new COVID variant called BA.5 evading immunity from vaccines and prior infections, a single multi-millionaire coal baron from dinky West Virginia holding the entire country hostage as fires rage, lakes dry up, glaciers collapse, and heat records fall all over the southwest and Europe, I think it is fair to conclude we are trapped in a neverending shitshow that will last rest of our lives and beyond.
If there is no light at the end of this tunnel, and the fucking tunnel just keeps getting longer, what the hell do we do with that? I’m struggling mightily with my mission here, “learning from loss to live with love and laughter,” when all I can see and feel is the loss part.
I miss fun. Remember fun? When you could go out, and laugh, and enjoy yourself? Maybe you go ahead and do it anyway, as many of the painfully cheerful, empty-nester-retirement-travel pics on Facebook so heartlessly remind me every time I scroll my news feed, but c’mon, aren’t you surreptitiously looking over your shoulder? Assessing escape routes? Gauging how crowded it is, and deciding when you’ll put a mask back on? I am.
What kind of a life is that? Especially if, like me, you’re old enough to know you’re on the inevitable downslope toward oblivion? (OK, well, not oblivion–don’t get me wrong, I believe in the life everlasting–had too many messages from folks on that side not too.)
Why am I bothering losing weight (23 pounds and counting, not as fast as I’d like, but steady-only 57 pounds to go!)? Why am I not snarfing down gallons of ice cream and family-sized bags of chips?
I’d like to say it’s a gesture of hope in the future, but I’d be lying. It’s merely an effort to stick around long enough to ensure Angelic Daughter will be cared for by kind and loving people who know and appreciate her, and will protect her to the best of their abilities from all the crap that just keeps coming, when I do finally shuffle off this mortal coil. Right now, I’m doing a very bad job of making those preparations. Those who know me, and especially, who know and love Angelic Daughter, expect an email asking for help. Eventually.
Is there any hope? I found some when I read an opinion piece about a journalist who stopped reading the news: I learned there is something called “solutions journalism.” It’s an effort to counter the daily battering of bad news by reporting on what we can do about it.
OK, give me some of that. That could help a little.
In the meantime, I distract myself binge-watching escapist television featuring exceptionally beautiful young men, and deluding myself that I don’t look old enough to be their mother, even if I am.
Your someday-I’ll-be-funny-again, maybe-I’ll-live-long-enough-to-have-fun-again, wondering-what-I-can-watch-until-the-follow-up-movie-to-the-Last-Kingdom comes out,