Thursday, August 7, 2014
Just Let Me Get The Date Behind Me
My daughter's work schedule means this is my week with the 3Es -- getting up far too early and still unable to go to bed before 11. Those 18-hour days pile up and much of the time I'm alone, or at least the only person awake within the four walls where I'm surrounded by people I love.
Mornings the girls arrive shortly after 5, take over my bed and the crib in the playroom, and go back to sleep sometimes for as much as two more hours. I spend a portion of that time working out and caring for dogs in the kennel, and I'm fairly good at keeping my mind occupied the rest of the time.
By the time I'm left alone again for an hour or so at 3 p.m. between the time they leave and the time my husband gets home, my defenses have slipped a bit. I can only work out so much. It's too hot for the dogs to want to be out, or for me to start some outdoors project after being sidelined all day with little people. I'm at loose ends and find myself debating the social acceptability of alcohol after noon versus the calories I would need to burn to justify it.
Once my husband gets home I've got company another three or four hours before he goes to bed to be ready to get up for his early shift. By 7 or 8 I'm alone again with the evening stretching ahead of me. Some evenings I take a Zumba class, but if I work out too much or too late, I cannot sleep, so I'm left to grapple with the long hours and whatever form of entertainment I can use to distract myself.
This week there's no question that I'll cry during those alone times. It's just a matter of how often, how desperately, and when.
I hate this. I know it's just a date hanging over me. August 17. Yet it's a battering ram of emotions, a realization that it will be year and that each year I will tack another year onto how long it has been since I saw my baby and talked to him, since I was crushed in one of his terrific hugs, since I saw his smile or his blue eyes or the lost expression that so often crept across his face.
For the rest of my life, when I should have been watching him get his life together and find a young woman and have those blue-eyed, blond-haired children he wanted, I'll be marking off another year since I've touched him.
I hate that it had to be on E1's birthday. That I have such a firm date in my mind for when I saw him last. That it has to taint what should be her day.
At the same time, if I have to remember the last time we were together so plainly, I'm glad it's a good memory of one of his favorite family times. I'm glad I can think of him as he was that night and smile at the memory of one more hotdog, or a corner piece of cake, at him slipping up to me as I played hostess to ask a question, grab a hug, be my little boy even as he towered over me.
I'm also glad that it's a day when I won't be tempted to sit around and wrestle with my memories all day. The day itself will belong to the birthday girl, it's just the time before that is haunted with a much loved ghost.
This week, odds are that something on television, on the radio, in an MP3 I thought was safe and downloaded, or even in a mystery novel will bring tears to my eyes. I cry over the fictional characters, the broken hearts, the happy endings that aren't my own, when what I'm really crying over is the life cut short last December by an overdose.
I think of Ethan alone slipping away from us. My mom has wondered if he needed us and why he didn't call. I think he found peace, a high -- what he thought was another NDE (near death experience) the users call it and they seek it as the ultimate high, even though they are sometimes smart enough to be frightened at the same time. I don't think he was frightened. I doubt he ever realized it was not a NDE, but the real thing, until he shook himself free of his pain wracked body and mind.
I wonder if that was what he had been chasing all the time, and I'm sorry that I'm angry and sad that he's free. But that's where I am this week and where I may stay until I mark the date from my calendar. The waves of grief are lapping at my ankles again and I hope it just means I've wandered too near the shore, not that the tide is coming in.
I'm running at a frantic pace, desperately seeking distraction, and a little ragged around the edges. I hope in 11 days I'll be breathing easier again and that the waves don't pull the ground from under my feet in the meantime.