I remember when you wouldn’t realize you had off on a day like Columbus Day and then you’d find out and we’d both be so excited. A whole extra day to spend together. It was like a treasure. On Friday afternoon I’d be on a high waiting for that long weekend to begin.
Now. Now the long weekend is just that. Long.
Now it is the quietest time. No emails. No phone calls. No plans. This one was particularly difficult because I find myself sick again with a bad cold/sinus thing. I know my body is just worn out from all of this. So I fall asleep at 10 instead of my usual late hours because I am too tired and because there is no real reason to stay awake. It was also worse than usual because of the unseasonably warm weather. If I have to go forwards and it’s taking every ounce of my energy to do so, I hate to feel the weather is rewinding things. Eighty degrees in October, whereas my previous seasonal affect disordered self would’ve relished it, is now quite irksome to me. Let’s just keep things moving or I may not be able to keep it up.
I think about what we might have done if you were alive. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not about what we would have “done.” Just having us all together we could’ve sat around our apartment and it would have been great. I wouldn’t have thought about checking my email or chatting with a friend. I would have instead been guarding our time. Asking you not to play at church or do an extra session so we could all spend time together. Even though Audrey and I are together, that whole dynamic is just so different now. We are together every day. There is not that third person to break things up or remind her that I’m a real, true, certified grown- up and not just her playmate.
So it’s just a weekend of small things- which isn’t always bad, but with my cold I feel much more emotional and cry more which doesn’t help my already runny nose. It’s a weekend filled with something I try to lock away on a daily basis because it’s clearly not productive: self-pity. I am bitter and angry at the world. But really that’s just a veneer for the deep sadness and loneliness for you. And I can’t help feeling I’m being punished because no one else I know seems to be going through this.
So, we skip church and go to the Korean restaurant instead so I can get the smoking hot tofu stew, soondooboo chigae, that usually clears me up with its spiciness. I tell Audrey it’s our “ladies lunch.” Then I buy her Tinkerbell sunglasses in the drugstore where I go to buy more medicine. Then today we go to eat bagels for lunch. The patrons in a bagel shop on a holiday are a motley bunch. A group of three old people commenting on the freshness of the salad. An odd woman who reeks of loneliness. It’s OK though since I love fresh bagels and our whole day (and weekend) feels a little like we’re an old couple who have settled into a routine of splitting entrees at restaurants. Still, I stop and take this photo of the yellow leaves on the island in the parking lot because it’s pretty.
Then we go pick up more tissues for me at Target. At Target I’m amazed at how I can let Audrey see and play with every princess toy there but she doesn’t have a tantrum or ask me to get her anything because I tell her we aren’t buying anything today. She is mesmerized by a little Tinkerbell jewelry box and pushes the button that makes Tinkerbell go around and around on top, kneeling down saying quietly, “Isn’t she bootiful?” but when I tell her it’s time to go, she says, “I’m going to put this back.” I see another child grasping for dear life onto a large toy while her mother tries to offer her a measly carton of goldfish as an alternative. “You can have this!” I wonder why this is and I think it’s because I do get Audrey a lot of things and she trusts me- that I get her good stuff. That she doesn’t lack anything. It’s the same as her experience at the doctor’s office. Since she was eighteen months she will sit calmly while having two or three shots because I’ve explained everything to her prior to the visit and because I’ve told her it’s good for her and just a pinch. So even in her pain, I see she trusts me. The psychoanalyst at her school asks me about this the other day and tells me about all of the studies he’s been a part of having to do with Dr.’s offices and assures me we have a very significant bond and trust that will help Audrey as she grieves. I can’t help correlating both of these instances- this patience for what is good for her- for the receiving of gifts, and this tolerance for pain-this bearing with what I say is a good thing- to the spiritual sense in which we’re supposed to trust our creator in this same way. I suppose Audrey has more evidence than I do. I do give her good gifts. The immunization really is a pinch that’s over in a moment. And most of the trials of my life up until now were pretty much like that. But this is not. It is so much more than a pinch and it is permanent. I suppose if there’s any hope of trust in pain of this magnitude it will require something in addition: forbearance.