Lightning Strikes the Eiffel Tower (thesun.co.uk)
“I would up heart, were it not like lead. But my whole clock’s run down; my heart the all-controlling weight, I have no key to lift again.” ~ Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Friday early evening. Sunny, not too hot, humid.
I have not yet adjusted my sleeping patterns to coincide with Brett and Em’s morning classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which means that I take them to school and then come home and go back to sleep. Ideally, I would be falling asleep earlier than 3 a.m. so that waking at 9 wouldn’t be a problem.
We all know how ideally works for me—it doesn’t. Hence, the interrupted sleep patterns and headaches upon waking. Sometimes I wonder how I ever arose at 5 a.m. and did a full workout before going to work. Talk about ambitious. My workout today consisted of cleaning the bathroom and doing a bit of laundry. Whee, feel the burn.
Speaking of which, the wrist is still aching, but my mom is better today. She called her doctor’s office to tell them what’s going on, and they can’t see her until September 6; they told her to go to the ER if the stumbling happens again, which is what I had said to her. She does sound better today, and she ate something healthy, so there’s that.
Last night I had strange dreams about talking penguins and a pike fish that was trying to bite off my arm. The oldest penguin’s name was Bart. Very strange but interesting at the same time. The penguins were quite delightful; the pike was not. It had long needle-like teeth like Prisoner Zero on Doctor Who. I don’t even try to interpret such dreams any more as what could they possibly mean . . .
“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen
Wednesday evening. Hot, humid, and pending storms.
Well, you might say that I took a few days off since writing the last section. Understatement . . .
The wrist was way painful; my mom was way needy, and access to the computer was way limited. Okay. So I just wasn’t up to writing. Whatever.
Yesterday I had two much-postponed doctor’s appointments with the pain management doctor and my therapist: eighteen trigger shots later, from my ears to my butt, and one cortisone shot in the wrist. In between appointments, I worked on the also postponed paper work, then, on to Dr. K. to discuss my life for 45 minutes.
Unlike what I expected, I was very restrained. I think that I’m still in postponement mode. In fact, I know that I am. When I told Dr. K. that I was holding off on my grieving, she looked me dead in the eye and said that if anyone could do that, I could. I spent several hours today cleaning floors throughout the house, something that my back and my wrist are thanking me for at this moment. Actually, I’m supposed to be looking through the family photos for pictures of Grandma with the kids.
Why don’t I just rip my heart out now and throw it on the floor and stomp on it because that’s how it’s going to feel once I get in the midst of going through old photographs.
“September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret.” ~ Alexander Theroux
I told Dr. K that I don’t have any regrets with my m-in-law. Of course, that’s not true. I live filled to the brim with regrets, every moment of every day. I am a walking regret. Je regrette should be tattooed across my body somewhere. Jean Valjean (Les Miserables) has nothing on me when it comes to guilt and regret.
I wish that I had gone to the hospital while she was still conscious so that she could hear me say I love you one more time instead of my whispered words when she was slipping away. Of course, I wish that I had said I love you one more time to my father.
I wish that I had visited more in the past two years when she was still somewhat with us mentally, that I had sat down and had coffee, that I had asked her for recipes.
I wish that I had taken her to the symphony in the same way that she used to take me whenever there was a performance that she knew that I would appreciate. I saw Itzhak Perlman because of her. I saw one of Nureyev’s last performances because of her. What did I do for her?
How do we measure how much we have contributed to another person’s life? How do we know if we have done enough? How do we live with ourselves when we know that we have not done enough?
How do we know if we have really touched another person, that we have made an impact on them? Is it selfish to wish that you’ve made an impact?
So many questions and no real answers. It’s the Gordian knot all over again—it doesn’t matter from which direction you approach the problem, it’s seemingly unsolvable.
“… and between us every elegy, all the fallen
language that couldn’t hold its own
and wouldn’t give it back, had no flesh
except how long dust keeps our alphabets.” ~ Brian Teare, from “Eden Tiresias”
When I look in the mirror, I want to like the person that I see staring back at me. I have never been able to do that. I couldn’t really tell you why. Or actually, I probably have a thousand reasons why, but none seem to make sense to anyone but me.
At the end of my days, I don’t want to have lived like Bartleby the Scrivener, the man who preferred not to, so he never did. Literary criticism has all sorts of reasons as to why Bartleby did not, the most common being that it was his way of being a conscientious objector, his protest against the life that was being imposed upon him.
That’s not even close to what I’m talking about in this case. More precisely, I want to have participated, to have savored, to have tasted, to have dabbled, to have shared, to have given, to have touched, to have been touched, to have explored, to have dared, to have ventured, to have tried. Dammit, I want to have at least have tried.
Losing someone you love always leads to self-reflection, and that’s probably the only good part of losing someone you love. But as I sit here and bang on these keys, so many thoughts are churning through my brain, so many what-ifs, so many why-nots.
At the end of her days, my mother-in-law was not the person she had been. But the person she had been was strong and intelligent and generous with her time and talents. And to be perfectly honest, she would have hated the navel-gazing that I am currently embroiled in performing. She was not one to harbor deep regrets, at least, I don’t think that she was, but what in the hell do I even know about anything.
“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” ~ Stanley Kubrick
So, here is where I am at the moment: absolutely nowhere. My head is spinning; my back is aching, and my heart is breaking. I must tell you that this is not a good combination. I could chalk all of this up to not sleeping, but I know, and so do you too, probably, that it’s so much more.
If you are able to derive any sort of linear thought from this post, congratulations. That’s more than I could, and I apologize for that. Perhaps I should have chosen the path of restraint and not have written at all, but I feel as if I am on the brink of something, but I am not quite sure as to what that might be.
Perhaps it’s a poem. Perhaps, it’s just an idea for a post. I can only tell you that I sense something right beneath the surface of my consciousness, so close that I can almost glean a glimpse, but then it slips away. Is it the Silence (Dr. Who reference), lurking there in the corner of the mirror, just out of sight but close enough to control my actions?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps I just have a build up of words that have had no outlet for days, and they are reaching critical mass. Perhaps it’s indigestion, but that would require eating an actual meal; wouldn’t it?
I have eaten, but I only taste dust, to be truthful. Perhaps tomorrow I shall dare to eat a peach and wear my trousers rolled, and then, and only then, I will be able to tap into whatever this is.
Until then, silence, and not the Dr. Who kind.
More later. Peace.
“I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables (original cast soundtrack)
The Three Oddest Words
When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to
When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.
~ Wisława Szymborska
2 thoughts on ““I find pieces of myself everywhere, and I cut myself handling them.” ~ Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping”
You and me against the world, Lita. I bet your m-i-l never felt that you didn’t love her and measure up. One of my big regrets was not going to visit my (ex) m-i-l when she was dying and asked for me. I was pregnant, it was far, I was embarrassed… Another one of my regrets was not meeting my ex when he asked to meet me – after 30 years had passed – I had my reasons… and then, poof, he’s GONE.
What if our regrets make us sick, Lita? Maybe we need to write each one of them on a helium balloon and let them go… Probably all our loved ones are more forgiving of us than we are of ourselves…
Lita – I’m holding you to eating that peach.
Thank you for a beautiful comment. Yes, regrets do eat away at our souls, making us emotionally sick, if not physically sick. Your support during this terrible time means a lot.