Another Sunday night I’ve made it to…it’s almost like my weekends are what weekdays are for most people- the working days- the ones I must “get through.” Because they are so quiet.
I play the role of the young widow as if in a film quite often, out of body really, because this is how I move now. But it’s a movie with no soundtrack I realize. A movie with no music. Remember I got you tickets to the John Williams concert at Lincoln Center for your birthday? They had a movie screen and played live along with many of the films he scored and then, to demonstrate the power of music, played a clip without any music, and then with the music. Without the soundtrack so much is lost in the films we loved. I always thought when you got older you’d be a film scorer. You were just so good at it. You had a passion for movies and it was so easy for you to sit down and create some beautiful piece of music.
It’s amazing how old I feel now. I’ll be 35 in a few months, but when I sit telling my daughter stories about back when her mother and father were young and things we did, I feel about eighty. Except that she’s two.
I also feel very flaky lately. I think this is also a result of widowhood. At least once a day I seem to be calling or leaving a message canceling some meeting or class at the last minute.
I can’t seem to kick this sinus thing I have, and it’s pretty incompatible- feeling sickly and having a toddler.
But actually, I realized today, grieving and having a toddler, are quite compatible. It doesn’t take much to impress Audrey at this age. If I say, “We’re going to go to the bagel store!” she’s excited. If I give her a bowl of dried rice and beans and a bunch of measuring spoons, she’s entertained for twenty minutes. It is good that I (or the world really) can easily impress her, because I have such limited energy right now. And also, because it is good for me to see this world through her eyes and find what pleasure I can, also, in the very small things.
On Friday we went out in the newly fallen snow (over the old snow) just to get out of the house. Audrey brought her trusty pail and shovel and did some shoveling. I did some real shoveling of the car and our parking spot. I have to admit shoveling is one of the few “male duties” that you did (that and maybe taking out the garbage and recycling), and it was nice to have that help. I put Audrey in the car while I did it and she played very nicely for about 20 minutes- climbing to the front at one point and pushing in her CD- “my moosic.” I was surprised to hear sound emanating from the car and found her in the backseat listening to the nursery rhyme CD that’s been driving me nuts lately but she requests every time over the public radio station you had the tuner set to.
I shoveled vigorously and thought of you.
Then we made snow angels. Actually, I made mine first while Audrey stared on. I stayed there a while because after I laid down I was literally shocked to see the sky. I guess I hadn’t looked up and it was such a contrast to the white on the ground- it was blue with large white clouds moving swiftly…it was a windy day. I didn’t feel the cold below me at all (maybe thanks to corduroy pants and a full-length down coat), so I just lay there for quite a while watching the clouds, feeling actually- quite euphoric. They were moving so quickly it actually felt like I was moving away from my building – the tip of which was visible to me. I let them take me…
Of course, after Audrey made her snow angel, and we both stood up and I said, “Look, there’s yours and mine!” Audrey said, “I wish appa could make a snow angel too.” The euphoria I’d just been feeling melted into tears. “Why are you crying?” our daughter asks me like such a grown-up. I tell her because I miss you and that maybe you’re able to look down and see our two angels there. Imagining that makes me cry even more…and I can’t hold back. We walk back into the building- I don’t hide my tears though there’s not really anyone to notice.
The rest of the weekend has been pretty dull- quiet, like I said. I set out deep cleaning the kitchen- which is already the cleanest room in the apartment- (I always tackle the easiest first-then run out of energy for the more challenging tasks- I know you’re supposed to do the opposite) dividing it into sections which I wrote down- clean refrigerator- inside and out- including dust on top, clean inside of cabinets, reorganize pantry, clean sink, clean microwave with steaming vinegar, clean table and booster seat, clean and disinfect garbage can, vacuum and steam floors. This is all really because I got a new steamer and then decided that must be the finishing touch of an already pristine room. Also because I clean to the extent which I feel a lack of control in my life.
So, I cleaned out one pantry cabinet today. It’s amazing how emotionally draining something this simple can be when someone who lived here has died. It used to be I’d get an emotional lift from cleaning/decluttering. Now throwing anything away is a challenge- because most likely you touched or used everything here.
But I did.
I came across a small box of Japanese candies “for tea or something,” you’d said, you brought back from Japan. The violinist’s wife’s mother gave them to each of the band members. They’re very pretty and I’d been saving them. I touched the box tenderly thinking about how you’d made it home alive from that tour- which was further away and longer- Japan, Australia, New Zealand- and you even stopped by Korea on your way home- missing Mother’s Day last year. You’ll miss it again this year.
I showed the box to Audrey- we opened it and each ate one…mostly they tasted like pure sugar- or a sweet tart- without the tart- but I can’t really taste anything right now because of my cold and I decided to throw the rest out- in the box.
Also of note in the pantry was a bottle of Apple cider vinegar that we “won” at the Korean grocery store. We were coming out of the large Super H-Mart when we were asked to come over and play a game they had set up there to possibly win a prize. Oh, Koreans. I can’t remember what we did, but we were always up for free stuff, so we played. We won some dishwashing gloves, and that apple cider vinegar. I noticed it had expired so I threw it out. I remember thinking we were very lucky- in a light-hearted sarcastic way, when we won that. But it was a good memory- of the three of us together- on a simple errand. Together.
I also found in the cabinet below, the leftover beers from the party I threw you before you left for Australia. I wanted to tell you how proud I was of you for getting this gig. That even though it was hard on me, I celebrated you and your achievement. I invited a bunch of our friends over and got pizza and Korean fried chicken. I had to leave the party once everyone had arrived to go pick up the chicken. I still can remember so vividly how excited I was in the car the whole way, how anxious to get back to the party we were having.
Anyway, there were about five Stellas left from that party. I put them in the fridge.
Earlier, I found myself thinking, “This is unacceptable,” about your death. So I guess I’m not really gliding into that “acceptance” stage, but I’ve also read in some grief book that a better word is acknowledgment. I agree-
acceptance is too welcoming a word with the open mouths of two “c’s.”
Far too welcoming.