Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Emotionally shredded - Handle with care

I'd like that on a sign to hang around my neck for at least the next 3 months. You know those T-shirts that say "I'm out of my mind. Please leave a message..." Well, I need something similar, something like "If you expect a thoughtful and coherent response to your inquiry, please put it in writing." Because what I'm really feeling runs something like the only reason I'm out of bed and dressed is because the alternative is eviction and starvation, not necessarily in that order, so please be forewarned that I'm not at all in a good place at present and any attempts at civil or clear conversation may be met with resistance ... which is certainly more socially acceptable than the alternatives that flow through my head, like if someone has the audacity to say good morning without knowing my sitch ("Blow it out your ass...," "Go fuck yourself...," "Really Officer, I've no idea how that office chair got shoved up my colleague's orifice..."). I think some anger management counseling may be in order.

Knowing ain't half the battle where this grief thing is concerned. When I catch myself feeling ok, I don't feel guilt, just gratitude; because when I remember what's happened, the shock is like it happened yesterday. My eyes well up, I get that wind-knocked-out-of-me-tummy-hurts feeling, and the inconceivable nature of this new reality rearranges itself firmly in my emotional center. Dad can't be dead. It just doesn't make sense in my head. The man's been there for me for 37 years; how the fuck does he just evaporate like that? (Well, technically his spirit went bye-bye and then we torched him, but you get the idea...)

The trip north was happy, bittersweet, and deeply sad. I saw cousins that I hadn't seen in 22 years, and I met cousins that weren't even born yet when we left CT. We got in Thursday night a bit numb, crashed, got up Friday, and drove to Warren to sightsee. That was weird, but nice; I was really surprised by how much of the commute I didn't remember. Whether that's because it's changed or my memory has is still in question. What hasn't changed much at all physically is that tiny town of Warren, where we lived from 1981 to 1985; it's still God's country, an absolutely lush landscape of green and hills, so it was quite relaxing riding around that morning. We hit John's Best in Brookfield for lunch and it did not disappoint; still the best damn flavored pizza I've ever had! Holy crap, we stuffed ourselves! We drove back to Norwalk and received visitors that evening at my Uncle Dan and Aunt Karen's, where we were staying (Dan was Dad's oldest brother). That was truly a trip down memory lane, as both friends and family dropped by to eat, drink, and pay tribute. I ate like a horse and drank like the Irishwoman I am all weekend.

Saturday morning the memorial was at 10 a.m. at St. Jerome Catholic Church, where Mom and Dad were married. I was still feeling pretty detached about things, ever since seeing the beautiful rosewood urn/box that contained Dad's really didn't feel like Dad was in there, so I was handling things a little easier. But then after the priest did the holy water blessing of the urn at the back of the church, we walked down the aisle to the front and the opera singer/friend of Karen's starts singing "Morning Has Broken...," one of Dad's faves. I had forgotten we'd started the Jax funeral that way, and this guy's voice was just exquisite, so the waterworks hit and stuck around for most of the service. After the memorial, we went directly to the cemetery where the priest said a few words, we said a few prayers, and another daughter-of-a-friend of Karen's played "Danny Boy" on the violin. So damn beautiful. The rest of the day was a bit of an alcoholic blur, punctuated by a toast to Dad with a delicious Irish Mist liqueur that I really need to add to my paltry stash of spirits, because it really was yummy, and a delightfully wild ride in my uncle's 1927 Model T during which we drove back to Dad's cemetery to visit him and to St. Mary's Cemetery, where our Grace relatives are purported to have been buried even though the headstones have been lost or were never acquired due to cost.

Sunday we slept in a bit, thankfully, and went back to the cemetery for cries and pictures. That was really nice, because we encountered a huge flock of Canada geese just feasting on bugs amongst the headstones, and we're all suckers for those birds from our days on Above All. The day was overcast and cool with a pretty breeze. We went back to the house, then to Notre Dame (convalescent home) to visit Nanie. She had a TIA recently (transcient-ischemic attack, aka mini-stroke), which did a number on what's left of her memory, which combined with the sedation made for a pretty repetitious visit ("And you are...and where am I...and you are..."), but I was so delighted to finally see her again. Meara didn't take it well at all, so that day was her day for alcoholic oblivion, which made the next day of travel rather excruciating, bless her heart. Thankfully, Nanie was out of it enough to not even ask about Timmy (Dad, her son), and she probably doesn't even remember the visit really, but I'm going to start sending her cards like every 2 weeks or so, because she made a crack about feeling useless for living as long as she has (and we wouldn't even tell her her age, almost 96), and it'll make me feel better to remind her how much I love her. We had a serious food spread that night, on top of hamburgs and hot dogs, plus fantastic desserts, and got to visit with family again and make plans to try and keep in better touch from now on (which Meara's already made a start on, with a family website).

Monday was travel day, which left me tired, very physically sore (thanks in part to a misstep down the stairs carrying my luggage at Dan and Karen's), and ornery, so I was quite glad I had the foresight to take Tuesday off work as well. Slept in, puttered, napped, recovered. Now I'm back at work and rather cast adrift. I'll look into grief counseling in what's left of this week, but we can't afford anything probably until at least July, when my flexible spending account recharges, so it's a good thing I've got so many decent sources from the library for now. Christy should be in St. Augie, so she's offered to cook all of us dinner one night this weekend, so that'll be really nice, because we had short visit time at the memorial. I need to do laundry, and we're really screwed money-wise at present, but the rent cleared so I'm less worried...we just need to figure out a way to make it to next Friday.

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