Thursday, November 12, 2015

To You

Graduate & Mentor

I've started and stopped this post in my head a number of times.

It's always fragmented.  Distracted.  Disjointed.

I have a thought and follow it thru for a few seconds until I'm yanked in a different direction, to a different memory, a different experience.

For the first couple weeks, Maybe just followed me around the house.  A four-legged shadow moping behind her aimless leftover master.  It felt as if she was silently asking me, begging me, "Where is she?  It's time to bring her back."

If Maybe wasn't asking w/ her mopey face, Rory was asking every night w/ her mouth.

In a lot of ways, my aimlessness persists today.

I'm getting by.  That's what I do.  I get by.  I pose as a functioning semi-adult during the daytime; then often hide in the darkness in the evenings.

But I think you'd (continue to) be proud of me.  As I consistently aimed to be your rock, I am attempting to serve the same purpose for Rory.  Without her, babe, I don't know what kind of position or state I'd be in.

On the whole, Rory's doing okay.  For the first few months, it appeared we were dodging a dramatic grieving bullet...until it struck her in the heart a few weeks before fourth grade started.  And I know, it's to be expected.  I mean, not to further inflate your value, but you were - you are - an incredible force of good in our lives.

For your absence not to have a significant impact on anyone who knew you well, they must be a robot.

I miss that slight jolt of joy or excitement that would permeate me as we climbed into bed together at night.  (Did I ever mention that to you?  I don't think so...)  It was my brief, quiet acknowledgement to myself that I had the privilege of spending my nights w/ you, knowing we would awake the next morning together.  A gift.

I miss being in that bed, settling in for a good night's sleep (few & far between these days), intentionally touching my feet against your bare leg, always emitting an iteration of the same response from you.  "Get those corpse feet off me!"  Yes, my feet were (are) skin-wrapped ice boxes.  Yes, they interrupted your approach to slumber.  But, yes, they also yielded a smile from you I could take w/ me into my dreams.

What do you know right now?  Do you know everything that runs thru my head and heart?  If so, then this note is redundant and nothing more than another therapeutic exercise for me.

Do you hear me when I speak to you at night, asking - sometimes pleading - that you come to me in my dreams?  And if you do hear me, do you come?  And if you do, why don't I remember when I wake?

Is this the best way to communicate w/ you?

I don't have a ouija board.

I want you to know that the presence and support of our family, our friends, your friends, the community has not dramatically diminished.  Despite my internal fears, people are sticking around.  They're asking us out (or in).  They're texting, e-mailing, calling, FaceTiming, doing, bringing, offering, building (a fire pit), delivering, thinking, praying.

And while I know you are not likely surprised by this level of support, I am.  We've talked about this.  It's not that I don't underestimate the generosity and sympathy of others.  It's that I don't feel worthy of it.  That being said, I imagine connecting w/ us serves different purposes for different people.  I acknowledge that Rory and I serve as a remaining connection point w/ you.  I also know that we may be perceived as a charity case of sorts.  Look at that unfortunate family.  We must do something.  But, I do believe the vast majority of those that remain in our corner are just there to be there for us.  And that gives me great comfort.

On the flip side, there are a few that have stepped away.  And for that I say, fuck 'em.  Seriously.  Maybe a little more harsh than you'd respond.  But, as I expressed to Mom and Dad the other day, how you respond in tragic situations often defines your character.  And if you've retreated from my family over the last year (especially in the early moments), well, fuck you.

It's not so much hate as it's a dismissal.  Trim the fat.

We're finishing the basement.  And while I'm attempting to keep your original vision intact (thanks for creating that Houzz account, by the way), I've noticed that decisions still need to be made on the fly.  I'm making them.  I just hope I'm doing right by you.

I compare these basement decisions to shopping for clothing w/ you.  You'd hold up a shirt on a hanger and ask, "Whatcha think?"  Invariably my response was what?  "I can't tell you what I think until you put it on."

That's what making definitive decisions w/ this basement is like.  On more than one occasion, I've said to the guys, "Can you just do it and I'll let you know if I'm good w/ it?"  They give me the "if we do it, it's done" look.

I can't help but think you would make these decisions w/ greater confidence and grace.

People still ask, although w/ less frequency, if I 'feel' you.  I still don't know what that means.  (I wish I did.)  But, for me, I can say w/ confidence to my core, I do believe you are w/ me every day.  I rarely make a decision regarding our daughter, our house, or even my own well-being that I don't contemplate it w/ you.  I feel like we know one another so well that I can have that conversation w/ you in my head, allowing me to come to a more sound decision.  Thank you.

I had this seemingly random analogy that flashed thru my head in the kitchen the other day.  You know, in a baseball game, when there's a pop fly and two fielders call for the ball and it just drops there on the grass between them, untouched?  I feel like that's an example of what two-person parenting can be like.  You both have the best intentions, but mistakes are made.  And it's okay.  You pick up the ball and get back in the game.  We weren't perfect parents, but I don't think we dropped the ball a lot either.

Well, now I'm the parent.  And while I do admit that I carry you w/ me, I'm the only one scrambling for that pop fly when it's in the air.  And sometimes it drops.  How often do you see a baseball player drop the pop fly w/o a teammate's involvement?  It doesn't happen.  They know what they're doing.  They're prepared.  They catch the ball.

Well, I can already tell - one year in - that I've dropped the ball on more than one occasion.  I'm sure you know it.  I also imagine - maybe for my own peace of mind - you remain forgiving.

One fucking year.

I'm not really sure how to recognize this day, babe.  In all honesty, it's not a day I want to underline for any of us.  But, we'll do something special, something subtle.  It will likely involve your favorite pizza, possibly coupled w/ the pilot for the Gilmore Girls.  While I don't think she'll get it all, Ro's been asking me to watch it since...

I got the clasp on your watch fixed earlier this week.  I'm going to give it to Rory.  Wear it or not, I want her to look at it and remember the time that she had w/ you...not the time that she doesn't.  I hope to carefully frame this for her when I give it to her.  I'll let you know.  Or you'll already know.  Or you won't.  Who knows?  Who fucking knows?  

Your engagement ring, wedding ring, and glasses still sit silently atop the bathroom window sill.  Except for a couple times where Ro has asked to put on your glasses, they all remain untouched.  I consciously look at them every day.  They're getting dusty.  The dust particles reinforce my sadness.  But I can't bring myself to clear the dust from the rings...or even move them.  It doesn't feel right.  None of it feels right.

And to that end, most everything of yours remains as you left it.  Your bras hang on the inside of the closet door; your jewelry on the opposite door.  Drawers and shelves packed w/ tops, bottoms, and everything in between.  Your purse remains hanging and untouched on the inside of the hall closet.

I still cram my socks and underwear into two mini bedroom closet drawers, allowing you to have the vast majority of the drawer space.  Why?  I don't fucking know.  Again, it doesn't feel right removing your things.  For what?  So, I can have more space for my patterned socks?

Your robes still hang on the back of the bedroom door.  They're an incredible source of physical and emotional comfort to Ro.  When she has heightened moments of missing you, I'll often find Ro either in one of your robes or snuggling w/ one of them in her (or our) bed.  It's both pleasing and painful to witness.

We went to Columbia a few Saturdays ago.  We hit Shakespeare's, Lakota, your old Middlebush office, the library, and - for the first time - your old duplex off campus.  It was a fantastic day trip.  Just Ro and I zigzagging campus and downtown - hitting our preferred hot spots.  Just Ro and I...

As we put Columbia in the rear view, Ro acknowledged from the backseat that she had a great time, but would have preferred to have you w/ us.


That's when I introduced the term 'bittersweet.'  And it made/makes me wonder, will any sweet experience now always have a bitter aftertaste?  Is this our new life experience pallet?  If it tastes sweet, don't be fooled.  The bitter's coming in right behind it.


Clearly I'm just punching out random thoughts into words on the keyboard.  I really have no set direction or agenda w/ this message to you.  It's really just what comes to mind right now.  There's no story here.  No arc.  Nothing wrapped in a bow.

And I think this is such a choppy message b/c the reality is my head gets flooded w/ thoughts and my heart w/ feelings all at once when I intentionally put my focus on you.  What results is this - a fragmented, jumbled amalgamation of words.

But, I know I can leave it like this b/c you can connect the dots.  You can see the meaning, the feeling between and behind the words.  You can make it all fit together.  You get it.  You get me.  Just as I get you.

And I take such comfort in knowing this.  Really, I think I lean on that comfort every day.  The fact that we knew/know one another inside and out gives me a micro moment of peace.  And some days that makes all the difference for me.

I love you

I love you I love you I love you