Where does the time go?
I have read that it takes 21 days to create a habit. That is if you want to start doing something, do it consistently for 21 days, and you will create the habit to continue doing it. I have fallen into the habit of not writing for at least 21 days, and it is a habit I need to break.
Why I have shied away from my keyboard this past month is not quite clear. So much has happened and yet not much has really changed, in either my situation or my outlook. I am tired of writing those “I’m sad, I miss him, life sucks” posts even though I am sad, I do miss him and while life doesn’t suck completely, it isn’t what I expected nor planned for. Those best laid plans have definitely ganged agley. I have passed into a curious phase, not mentioned on the ‘grief timetable’. Each day slides into the next; weeks slip away like so many fugitives, disappearing into the mist. Perhaps it has to do with the six month mark of Jake’s passing, right afterward, I took my hiatus from this forum. Even though I am still able to function physically, went to mentor at Venice Arts each afternoon, took care of my daily duties, mostly, I have been in an emotional doldrums, becalmed by my sorrow. I am still going through the motions without any real relish or purpose.
The grief ambushes have abated somewhat, they come farther apart and the searing pain is lessened slightly. They still take my breath away at the most random and inopportune moments, even when I see them coming. This is something I am learning to live with; I don’t expect they will ever stop completely. I understand that it will be a long time, perhaps forever, until I can reply to the “how are you?” question with an “Excellent”, as I was able to do once. I settle for “okay”, or “hanging in there”, or “doing the best I can”, and I resist the temptation to reply, “how the fuck do you think I should be? How would you be?”
I did have an interesting flash of insight. When someone wants to tell you about some horrible thing that happened to him or her in response to your tragedy, it is not always callous insensitivity that prompts it. It might be an effort on the part of that person to get in touch emotionally with their own pain or sorrow in order to relate to yours, (or mine in this case.) Because, unless you have lost a child, you cannot begin to imagine what it is like, but many people want to empathize with you and perhaps this is their effort to find some emotional common ground so they can get a tiny glimpse of what you are feeling. I know that is giving some people a lot of credit. I think many people just want to tell you about their own disasters without a thought as to how it might affect you or whether you want to hear their sob story or not. Whatever the reason, I just can’t listen to the tale of your misfortune right now.
Perhaps it is that Jake’s birthday is approaching, the 19th of this month. He would have been 25. I was talking to the TA at the Arts program I mentor at and she asked me if I had children. I told her about Jake and when I said he was 24 she started, looked at me intently and quietly said “That’s how old I am.”
I am not sure what we will do to mark the date, but we will do something. Perhaps a quiet gathering with his closest friends and family, a strawberry shortcake, a time for us to laugh and cry, to tell a story, there are so many stories. Perhaps not. Whatever we do or don’t do, it will be a dreadful couple of days filled with longing for what was and what could have, should have been. Counterproductive perhaps, but inevitable. It is difficult to “celebrate his life”, I am not much in the celebratory mood these days. But he gave so much to so many; we should probably acknowledge that as best we can. I know Jake loved a party and “would have wanted it” We’ll see.
This month we had visits from some of Jake’s friends, wonderful young people who are doing well. People whom Jake was close to, people who knew him as well as anyone, people from different times in his life, people who remember him, will always remember him. We welcome these visits, it helps all of us keep him alive in our hearts, and because we genuinely want to see how their lives progress, but there is an unspoken sadness that hovers just out of arm’s reach. We laugh and talk and share stories, tea and cookies with them. It is so bittersweet to be with these lovely intelligent, talented kids. Sweet because they want to share a bit of their lives with us and are all doing so well. Bitter because … well you know
So the spell has been broken. I found my voice again. Maybe not my most sparkling effort, but my sparkle is dimmed and my voice is hushed these days. I’ll finish with another’s ‘voice’. The last few lines from Robert Burn’s poem “To a Mouse” On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785.
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,In proving foresight may be vain:The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ MenGang aft agley,An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!The present only toucheth thee:But Och! I backward cast my e’e,On prospects drear!An’ forward tho’ I canna see,I guess an’ fear!