Saturday, June 11, 2016

Surprise, surprise, surprise

There's this line in Infinite Jest that the longtime sober sponsors say to the AA newbies: Don't worry about getting in touch with your feelings; they'll get in touch with you. 

That shit is severely correct. Mine came at me Tuesday.

It's been nearly two decades since my mom died, and years since I cried seriously about it. (Two is years.) But I legit lost my shit that day. I was messaging with a friend about something entirely unrelated -- congratulations on an award we'd won, for god's sake -- 
and then this now-painful memory busted its way out of me and onto my phone. 

I started crying at my desk before I sent that msg. Then I booked upstairs and sobbed ugly in a bathroom stall for 20 minutes. Then off and on all day, ending with another big jag in front of the keyboard that night. I'd told no one, and then one person, and then everyone.

Grief is supposed to be private, right? Or maybe it just is, whether or not it's supposed to be. Anyway, as such, I don't really understand it. I don't understand how other people experience it. I don't understand why it's taking me so long to get through it -- when I honestly thought I largely was. But sometimes shit will just pop up and get in touch with me, as it were.

A lot of people have reached out to me since I posted that story, and I'm so grateful for all of them, and for anyone who read it. As I reason through it, I see that it was a necessary and painful healing step, and that the fact that I was finally ready for it is a really good thing. I do feel a lot better having let it out of myself, and I urge everyone else to do the same. I'm just bracing myself for the next hit.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The baby

When I was very young, evenings in my family were spent on the one couch we had, watching the one television we had. My mom would lay on it, always in the same spot, and because I was the baby, I got to be the one of us seven kids to lay on top of her. It was an incredible feeling of comfort and protection and warmth; when I want my mommy, that is the distinct feeling that I seek.

I remember laying there one evening when I was about the age my son is now. She called me her baby, as she always did, but this time I asked her how long she'd be calling me that. She said I'd always be her baby. I asked if she'd be saying that when I was an adult, even more so not a baby. In good humor, she negotiated with me a cut-off date: when I turned 81. (This had been her counter to my opening offer of 80.)

In the year that she was sick and in the years since she died, I've thought of this moment very often but have never been able to speak of it. When I allow myself to wade into the emotional depths, I wonder what she thought of that conversation. Did it make her sad to know, even on that day, not quite two decades before she got sick, that we weren't going to make it there? Or did she even think about it in those terms? Was it just some crazy thing I was saying, on top of all the other crazy things I must have been saying? I really hope it was that last one. I hope for her sake that she never, ever thought about it again. Because having lost her, thinking about that conversation -- just the conversation -- with Abbott is unbearable to me. I can't even write this without crying.

My mom would have turned 74 today. Happy birthday, mama. I miss you. And I am still your baby.