Friday, January 26, 2007

Where O Where Is My Sense Of Humor?

I was just rereading my posts from last fall. They were funny.

The recent ones, not so much.

Hope my sense of humor didn't die eight months ago too.

The Tour is Coming to an End

A shift is taking place.

For the first time in 8 months...oh God, it's eight months today...I feel like settling down. NOOOO, I don't mean "get married", maybe more like settling in. I want to set an alarm clock, go grocery shopping, have a bedtime routine with Iain, know which days I am working and which days I am playing. I want to know where I live and what is vacation and what is home. I want just one teensy weensy ounce of routine in my life.

I realized yesterday that life hasn't been steady for over 26 months. That's ridiculous. In Ocotber 2004, I was 12 weeks pregnant, mom went on hospice, and I shifted my focus from work to caring for her. Shortly after she died, I was put on bedrest. Iain was born. My church imploded. I lost my job. Dalton was diagnosed with cancer. He was treated. He had surgery. He came home. He died. Since then, I have done everything I could think of to avoid settling in. I've travelled, lived in two places at once, refused a set work schedule, and overbooked my socail calendar. Anything to avoid steady.

Steady was with Dalton before October 2004.

It's time to find steady with Iain in 2007.

It physically hurts to begin that process. The pit that I first wrote about shortly after Dalton died is bigger than ever. Nothing makes his absense more palpable than planning a week of meals and cooking them up on a Monday night without him. That makes us sound dull, I know, but it was actually how we managed to stay spontaneous in the midst of a really really busy life. Having lunches prepped in advance meant that a last minute invitation a show at the El Rey could be accepted instead of declined. I like having a plan to stray from. Living in constant whimsy has felt a bit like being on a whirlwind tour of Europe. I just want to pick someplace and stay put for awhile.

Of course, I still intend to sleep in on my days off, find a last minute sitter so I can join the girls for happy hour, travel often, stay up late, get up early, earn my pilot's license, buy wine's that's too expensive, and generally feel obligated (not just free) to really get the most out of this life. It's so easy to forget how quickly time passes, and I don't want to miss out on opportunities to enjoy life in favor of just getting through it.

Still, I think it's time for steady. And steady is looking really painful.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Not Mechanically Inclined

I had grand plans for tonight. Dan had me scheduled for "legs", meaning that my knee had finally recovered enough from a nasty fall down the stairs at Sam Wo's (note the comment about the narrow stairs) to handle a good workout. Jenny and Joseph and I were going to grab some dinner at a cafe in Glendale. Leah, Jill, Martel, and I were going to have Girls Night Out. And Iain was going to hang out with his buddy Levi and Godfather Matt.

Apparently, I was not supposed to have grand plans. First off, Joseph was coughing up a lung, sweating out a fever, and in no shape to do anything other than stay in bed. To be honest, that worked out better for Jenny as well who was feeling a bit overwhelmed and quite happy to reschedule. It also meant that I would actually have time to shower and primp before going out with the girls, so I wasn't heartbroken either.

Unfortunately, when I arrived home at 3:30 to grab my gym clothes, things went terribly awry. Just like every other night for the past two years, I put my key in the lock, unlocked the deadbolt, pushed down on the lever, and pushed on the door. Unlike every other night for the past two years, nothing happened. The door wouldn't budge. The deadbolt was still engaged.

What the heck? Trying again. Put key in lock. Turn key. Push lever. Open door.


Not being easily discouraged, I skipped around back and came in through the kitchen. "I'll just open the front door from the inside and see what the problem is."

Nope. Couldn't open it from the inside either. Here is where I made the crucial mistake...

"I'll just take the lock off the door and fix it."

Dalton is laughing right now. Really, really hard.

Oh, I got the lock off the door alright. The problem was getting it back on. So there I was cross-legged in my work clothes with a pile of deadbolt parts in front of me realizing that there was no way I was going to make it to the gym for my appointment and that I had no way to lock my front door while I picked Iain up from daycare. Most people would have at least one of several solutions to this predicament. Most people have two locks on their door, know their neighbors, have family nearby, or have a spouse/other parent to pick the kiddos up in case of "emergency". I, on the other hand, was stumped. Seriously. I was so perplexed by the circumstances that I got up from the floor, poured myself a glass of wine, sat down on the couch and did nothing.

Five minutes later, Leah called. After explaining the situation to her, she suggested that I at least try to get ahold of a locksmith. After all, I still had almost 2 hours before I had to leave to get Iain and they might be able to get the door fixed in time. Following her suggestion, I called the second (never the first) locksmith that popped up on a google search for "locksmith west covina". Lucky me! They would be out within the hour. And, they would fix the lock by 6:10 so that I could pick Iain up by 6:30. Yipee.

It didn't work out that way. An hour later they hadn't arrived. When I called the dispatcher, he nonchalantly explained that they were running about an hour late and would see me around 6:30. I politely (I think) explained that I needed to pick up my son from daycare. In turn he said, "Go ahead."

Yeah, and leave my front door wide open!

The closest friends I have in proximity to my home are Joseph and Katie. Joseph, who was coughing up a lung. Katie, who was coughing up both lungs. They are about 12 miles away. After them there's a handful of folks in Pasadena, but that is about 20 miles from my house. And it was 5:15. In Southern California. No one can go 20 miles in an hour at 5:15 in Southern California.

I called Joanna, my easternmost Pasadena friend, and told her my predicament. Without hesitation, she answered, "I'm on my way."

Like I said, no one can go 20 miles in an hour at 5:15, but she was close. I was a little late getting Iain. The door was open for about 10 minutes. And, I felt a little better when the locksmith told me that the lock was indeed broken. Joanna stayed for dinner and drinks. Iain watched the Wiggles. I was reminded once again of why I need to move in closer to my friends.

I think most young widows, especially those with children, move "home". By that I mean that they return to the place where their parents live. Since my parents are both dead, that isn't the best option for me. And since Dalton's parents live in Apple Valley and I would be dead if I had to live there (um, the annual happy trails roundup...), that isn't the best option for me either. Luckily, I have amazing friends. Friends who will drive an hour to wait for a locksmith while I run to pick up Iain. Friends who will gladly babysit so that I can get some much needed adult time. Friends who will just hang out while I sort through the reminders of my life with Dalton. Friends who will wrap up dishes and help me pack. Even on my most misearble days, I know how lucky I am to have friends like these.

The same cannot be said for the second locksmith on my google search of "locksmith west covina". Next time, I think I'll try the first.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Most Depressing Day of The Year

Right off the bat, let me just say that I'm stealing from PussyGalore. But I thought this was funny and a little bit appropo. The most depressing day of the year happens to be my Mom's birthday which just happens to be the Monday following Dalton's birthday. Oh well, at least I can get 'em over with at the same time. Tonight I would have given anything to drop Iain off at a friend's house and get the heck out of town. Yosemite sounded nice. Vegas, fun. I even considered a cross country trip. What it really boiled down to is that I wanted to disappear; be a missing person for a week or so. Turn off the phone. Live on cash. Take on various identities. Unfortunately, I'm still sane enough to know that there are too many issues that would arise if I did that. Like, um, my job, the house I am buying, my dog. Plus, all that emotional crap that my friends and family would have to go through. For what? A bit of craziness that would end soon enough anyway?

Nope. Couldn't do it.

Why is it that some of us (ok, most of us) still feel the overwhelming pull toward responsibility even when we could justify otherwise? And, perhaps the more interesting question is "Why is it that some people snap easier than others?" I could snap. Really, I could. But what would happen to Iain? Who would pay my bills, take care of my dog, clean out the refrigerator? I really did think about that - moldy food. And, eventually, I'd probably get over myself and then I'd have created more work and hassle for myself in the long run.

Anyway, I doubt if today was the most depressing day of the year for me, but if it was for you, cheer up. At least you got it over with nice and early.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

January 19, 1968

Dalton's birthday.

Last year, steak dinner and stuff I can't write about. This year, a picnic in the cemetary.

That just sucks.

Who knows whether it is the purchasing of a new house or the subconcious awareness of the date, but I have been a bit...weepy?

This is a really big deal for me. I mean, each succesive death (Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Dalton) has resulted in more and more impassivity. I can remember as a child that I cried a lot. If someone stepped on a bug, I cried. If I thought someone didn't like me, I cried. Sad movies required a box of Kleenex and an escape route.

Nowadays, I can sit through "Trade", a disturbing, haunting movie about human trafficking without even tearing up while the guys I am sitting next to are sobbing. This scares me a lot of the time. Am I no longer able to form close emotional attachments? Have I constructed emotional roadblocks to shield myself from pain? What does that mean for the future?

I think that's one of the big reasons I am seeing a therapist. I want to be healthy - physically and emotionally - and I suspect that the emotional stuff may take a while to diagnose.

Of course, I'm not sure this therapist is going to the be the one to diagnose it. I was sharing with her that while cleaning out the garage, I had come across several letters, notes, journals, photos, files, etc. All of them made me cry. Some caused longing, others joy. Some, especially the journals, were very painful. They revealed Dalton's complexity as a person, his struggles, demons, etc. I'm really not certain how much of that type of "keepsake" I should be keeping. It's fine for me to have, but what if somehting happened to me. I would only want Iain to see these things in the proper context, with a counterbalance of Dalton's joy and faith. Do you know what my therapist's suggestion was? After meeting with me evey week for five months, she actually suggested, "Why don't you have your Mom hold onto them for you?"

Like I said, i don't think she's the one for me to be talking with about my reluctance to form deep emotional ties. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I should be talking with her at all. Guess its time to look for a new therapist and just be happy that for now, it's good to be weepy.

If you've got any fight left...

Seriously. I just need to stop watching Grey's Anatomy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nearly Last Wishes

April 1, 2006 (our sixth anniversary)

We talked tonight about fear and death. Hopefully, we won't continue to live in that place. We cried about Iain and little Dalton and our own potential loss. Faith was hard to muster today. Heaven is a place for old people to go after they've Seen their kids grow up. Not really, I know. But it seems like that's how it should be.

I wrote that post the day after the doctors told us that the cancer was in Dalton's lungs, liver, and abdomen. We had sat in the living room after Iain had gone to sleep. I was on the couch. Dalton was on the chair.

In between sobs, I managed to ask "If something happens and you die, do you want me to stay here? In this house?"

"No." He answered. "I'm not going to die from this cancer, but if I got hit by a bus on the way to get my chemo, I'd want you to move closer to LA, to be near our friends. Maybe someplace like Pasadena. Take Iain to the places we liked. Teach him to eat sushi at A'float. Get him a hot chocolate at our Coffee Bean." Mostly, I'd want you to stay connected to the church and our church friends. They've been good to us."

...On Tuesday, the realtor called to tell me that the offer had been accepted. I am in escrow on a house in Pasadena. Actually, it's a duplex, and I'm buying it with some dear friends from church. It's in an amazing area. We can walk to the Rose Bowl and Old Town. It's literally across the street from the Gamble House and a few blocks from the Norton Simon Museum. The friends I am buying the house with have become surrogate grandparents to Iain and spiritual lifesavers for me. It's a good move. Probably short term. Maybe for two years. Then I'll revisit NoCal. Or New York. Who knows?

As much as I am in love with Northern California, I am not ready for that kind of a change yet. As a matter of fact, the fact of buying a house anywhere seems to have opened the floodgates so-to-speak, and I can't seem to stop crying. Something about starting to build a life without Dalton as opposed to just sampling different options is making it all too real.

Every time I say that, it sounds absurb, but it's true. By refusing to either live in our old routine or establish new ones, I have been able to maintain a sort of denial. Not so now. If only my shrink were more into the antidepressants...

As an aside, I am really glad that I have had this time to travel and socialize and live in two places at once. In fact, I never really decided on LA vs. SF. It just sort of happened. The house became available. It felt "right" like nothing else had. So I went for it.

I guess if all goes well at the inspection, I will indeed be living in "someplace like Pasadena. Taking Iain to the places we liked. Teaching him to eat sushi at A'float. Getting him a hot chocolate at our Coffee Bean." And, considering I'll be living next door to our church friends, staying connected shouldn't be a problem.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Who's in your address book?

Being friends with someone (ok, me) who is grieving is not for the weary, impatient, or judgmental.

Some things I’ve noticed about myself in these months following Dalton’s death:

1) My moods are absurdly unpredictable. At any given time, you might find me nostalgic, indifferent, optimistic, terrified, resolute, flighty, sociable, socially inept, charming, obnoxious, selfless, self-centered, gloomy, perky, angry, pacified, lonely, loved, intent, scattered, etc. In fact, it feels and must often appear that I am suffering from multiple personality disorder. Were it not for the fact that the therapist assures me this is all quite normal, one of the personalities (the rational, cautious one) might consider having me admitted.

2) My memory still isn’t functioning properly. I seem to be doing better remembering numbers and facts, but I regularly stumble when asked “What did you do yesterday?” Conversations don’t stick, especially my side of them. I can’t remember to feed the dog or put gas in the car or pick up the dry cleaning.

3) I go through much of life in a fog. I am functional. I can see what is right in front of me. But, get more than a few minutes behind or ahead of where I am and it’s all a blur.

4) I need constant reassurance. Annoying, but true.

5) My sleep habits continue to be erratic. Some nights, you will wake me up if you call at 8pm. Other nights, I will wake you up when I need to talk to someone at 1am.

6) I want desperately to find some magic pill that will help me start over but ultimately know it doesn’t exist.

7) I often feel like I am getting worse instead of better.

I was on the bulletin boards again this morning. Sigh. So pitiful. One of the recurring themes is how friends seem to disappear or withdraw as time goes on. The saying goes “grief rewrites your address book.” And my favorite quote on the subject is “I completely understand. My thing is, who would even want to hang out with me. At this point, I am no fun to be around - I wish I didn't have to hang out with me!”

Anyways, I really appreciate how many of my friends seem to be hanging in there with me. I know that so far, I have been really lucky on that front. It does help to ease some of the lonliness.