The trip home yesterday was all kinds of interesting, but it's over. And I'm sitting here in the shambles of my house, trying to get my feet under me. I won't bore you. Started off with the usual "TSA is uh... interesting". Then segued to "being cramped on a plane with 300 of my closest strangers sucks". Followed by "baggage claim woes". It all ended in sushi with friends and home to my kids and my dog and my mess to straighten out, so I feel like I'm the clear winner here.
But under all that busy-ness is an ache that I don't know how to deal with yet. I know how this whole process works so you don't have to tell me the stages of grief thing. I started shaking my fist at Heaven when she was diagnosed, and I got to the real Anger part of that whole thing before she even died. I know people mean well and are trying to help in the only ways you really can, and I do my best to remind myself of that repeatedly.
So I'll spend the next quite-a-while trying not to respond sharply to people when they try to comfort me with our societally-approved irrelevancies like "she's in a better place". Sure, she could be in Heaven or Nirvana or Gehenna or One with the ALL. What the heck do I care? It doesn't matter. That place isn't here with me, and I can't go there yet myself to see her or talk to her. That's what I'm mourning. Someone says "she's not suffering anymore" and I want to scream either a) How the heck do you know!? You've never been dead! or b) If she'd gotten well she wouldn't be suffering anymore either!
But that's not right. She'd be on my case if I did that, and she'd be right to do so. Me hurting others because I'm hurting doesn't help a stinking thing.
I'm still here in the town I grew up in, and we drove past the only theater in a several town radius hereabouts on my way to ship a bunch of stuff Outside. It brought back a flood of memories.
It's got the name of a big theater chain on the front now, but the building is still the same late 70's commercial building metal siding, scored down to a powder-coat-like finish with years and years of wind-driven ice. You can still see the ghost of the old logo in under the new one. And that old sign stood out front of some of my fondest youthful memories.
It's where me and my best friends honed our popcorn throwing and straw-wrapper blowing techniques at the back of various courting couples' heads when dragged out to "St. Elmo's Fire" by one friend's mom. It's the dark corner of the balcony where I spent the last 20 minutes or so of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" weeping unashamedly into one of my little sister's stuffed animals. It's where I was first greeted as a Starfighter, and given my mission against Xur and the Kodan Armada.
I won't have time to see a film there this trip, but that's okay. I doubt it's still the same inside as it was 30 years ago (at least I frelling hope not!) so I'll keep my dingy red velveteen memories unsullied by the march of progress for a while longer.
Every year since they were in the third grade my kids (more accurately, my daughters with some help from my sons) write a parody song making fun of me and how old/gray/geeky I am. It is referred to as my "birthday song".
Here are a couple old examples:
They sang it to me at our family celebration and, as is traditional, I am returning the favor by posting the lyrics for all to see. It was the 10th anniversary of the tradition, so not only do I have the lyrics for you below, I also have an audio file of the proceedings.
Because My Mommy Loves Me
[i](sung to the tune of "When Somebody Loved Me" from the film Toy Story 2)[/i]
Because my mommy loves me
She taught me all I need to know
From mowing down the Zergling armies
to riding chocobo
And when she was mad
We would grind a field of skag
And when she was laggy, so was I
'Cause she loves me
Having all-out Halo Wars
Mutilating zombie hordes
Just killing things together
Like it was meant to be
And when I was out of ammo
She'd lay down suppressive fire
And I was glad that she loves me
As the years went by I called to say
Thanks for all the rainy days
I've never felt alone
Making it through every day
We'd still say, "Die you Nether pig-man!"
I've never once forgotten
The truths that I have learned this way
That every battle's worth the struggle
and love is worth the pain
Because my mommy loves me
Every shot hits critical
Every hour spent together
Lives within my heart
'Cause she loves me
This had some added weight due to me losing my own mother a couple hours before it was performed, but I know she would have been laughing her butt off at it, once some of the odder bits had been explained to her.
There was a second song with was all four of my kids together using my Rockband instruments (and a custom drumskin they had me make to keep me constructively blind to other preparations) to do a parody of a song from the film "That Thing You Do", complete with my younger son doing a creditable imitation of the character Shades, but the recording on that one isn't as good because I was laughing too hard.
So, with tears and laughter commingled, I'm older in the only way I'm interested in measuring it. Thank you, gang.
It's been more than a week since she's been gone. I still don't know how or what to feel.
I've been trying to help her boyfriend go through all the stuff she's gathered in 23 years of them living together in this house. I've been trying to keep going, but it's slowly breaking me down.
Part of the problem is I've got three different sets of old pain/problems getting dug up on top of mourning my mother. I've got my family of origin stuff, my problems in the wider community growing up here, and my own divorce all wailing my ears in an ugly cacophony of pain and fear and anger.
I was going through a box of craft stuff, and found a carefully preserved plaster hand-print of my younger brother when he was in kindergarten. A box mostly full of pictures of her dog and friends also had a wide vein of my wedding pictures. And old suitcase was full of old pictures of the mine, and several youthful diaries of mine I thought I'd burned. My crazy aunt just got off the phone after haranguing me about the progress on the slideshow for mom's memorial service.
I've mostly got the stuff she insisted I have packed up, but it's going to be a challenge getting it all back to my place. I don't think either one of us realized the scope. An innocent statement of "take my unfinished crochet projects" translates into the reality of multiple large packing boxes of yarn and half-done afghans. Then add in the sewing projects, embroidery projects, the half-finished memory books she'd started for my kids, various recipe/instruction books, canning stuff, sewing equipment, two full sets of china...
And something else neither one of us had really counted on was the amount of stuff that she'd kept from my siblings. Pictures and keepsakes and all those little kid craft projects have been carefully saved in the off-chance that any of them wanted to come back and be part of her life. I'm taking it all, because I think I'm the only one left around here who doesn't want to salt the ground they walk on. I know why they made the choices they made and while they hurt, I don't blame them. Unlike many others around here.
I don't know. I'll know this out somehow. And I'll do my best to do her proud and help her boyfriend through the service and it's aftermath on Saturday. But at some point here I'm going to have to face myself, and I honestly don't know how to do it.