Tuesday, March 30, 2010

August 29th, 2007 - Finally, Sadness Without Panic (and the Onset of Semi-Permanent Anger)

I started the day off scrambling, running late. I told Mason to change his clothes and eat his breakfast while I showered, brushed my teeth and gathered the day’s necessities:
1) A check to pay Mason’s Pre-School tuition for the 2 week period.
3) My lunch: a bag of half-rotten lettuce and cucumbers (anything, as long as I didn't need to repackage it.)
4) My lunchtime basketball gear.
5) My MP3 player.
6) Movies to return to the library: P.S., The Matador and DragonballZ- the first season.
The phone rang and it was my mother:
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“Just trying to get out of here,” I sighed impatiently.
“Oh, well, Ni got the number for the person to contact who can tell you whether that OB specialist will be covered under your insurance…”
I sighed impatiently again.
“Hello?” she said.
“Yeah. I’m trying to find a pen. Okay, go ahead…”
She recited the info, wounded and I hung up. “Mason, come on, we really have to go…”
“I’m coming,” he sang, smiling.
We ran out the door to another day, with guilt having set up it's shop the crow's feet of my squinting eyes.

One of the things that our therapist had repeated to us was that, really, only time could help ease our suffering and I was banking on it. I tried to hurry through days as fast as I could, just to get them over with. Most of the “fight or flight” panic had begun to subside now (aside from the near-daily panic attack which refused to keep a predictable schedule) but the emotions- the sad, sad, angry, furious, guilty, sad- that had been waiting beneath were no better. My stomach felt less tight, but songs were starting to creep in.

“Girl From the North Country” by Bob Dylan was playing as I drove and that song was no longer about a lover. It was no longer romantic. For me, it was (and is now) about a daughter and about death:

Well, if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see if she's wearing a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin' winds.

Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That's the way I remember her best.

I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all.
Many times I've often prayed
In the darkness of my night,
In the brightness of my day.

So if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Before I knew it, I was crying again, but for the first time since Roxy died, the tears didn't feel completely wasted. There was something GOOD in them. Something furious. Something sad, sad, sad. Something LOST but not afraid, at least for the moment, and it felt like I was kind of alive.

I was off to work with my spine feeling like a spear and my eyes like two 45's. I WANTED someone to say the wrong thing to me. I CRAVED conflict.

After a day spent in simmering hostility and nearly losing it with people all day, I decided to come home early. Terra was in the process of making dinner and Mason was watching cartoons.
“Dinner is almost ready,” she said.
It was Fettuccini Alfredo with Shrimp, Mushrooms and Broccoli. “Come on Mason,” I huffed, “Mama made dinner.”
No response.
“Mason!” I repeated.
No response.
No response.
I lost it. “MASON!!!!!!!” I screamed from the kitchen.
He entered the doorway, bottom lip trembling, 4 years old. I was angry. Angry at him and sick of myself.
“Mason,” I gathered myself, “you’ve GOT to start listening to us when we’re talking to you.” Bottom lip still trembling, he didn't say a word.
“Okay, you look like you might be tired,” I said. “Are you tired?” (Where was this going?)
“No, I’m not tired,” he sighed. He climbed reluctantly into his chair. Terra sat across from him. I sat to his left. Terra said nothing. She had no plate in front of her.
"You need to eat," I said.
“I’m not that hungry and I didn’t make that much. You should eat it.” I stood gruffly, walked to the cabinet and jerked out a plate and piled half of my serving onto it, and said “you should eat something, really.”
Mason looked down at his plate. “Oh, why do I always have to eat this stuff?”
“You know what? That’s really rude. Why don’t you just go to bed,” I I snarled quietly and coldly. My voice sounded unrecognizable. I hated it. I wanted to run but instead Mason did, crying.
We listened as he wailed in his bedroom. I looked into Terra's eyes. “I don’t know what to do,” I said, voice cracking. I felt tiny, hateful, mean. Her eyes welled with tears.
Deep, deep breath. “Okay, Mason, do you want another chance?”
“What?” he coughed.
“Do you want to try this again? Come here please.” He walked slowly and deliberately back into the kitchen.
“Look" I said, calmly (and oh so very together), "it’s rude, after Mama makes you dinner, to sit there and complain about it. The first thing we should do is thank her for making us dinner.” This was when I realized that I hadn't thanked her myself.
“Thank you Terra,” I said, lost. Where had I gone? Who was I now? Her eyes brimmed with tears.
“Thank you for dinner,” Mason said, still breathing hard.
“Okay, okay,” she said, “calm down. Take a deep breath.”
“I wish I could ask Dad a question,” Mason said to Terra.
My heart restarted and I began to feel a deep, deep remorse. I tried to smile. “Mason, you can ask me anything, any time. I just don’t want you to be rude. Sometimes, when you are tired, it makes you act, um, not very nice, and sometimes when I’m tired it makes me act, um, not very nice either.” I hugged him tightly. “What’s your question?”
His eyes lit up and he expelled an extended monologue regarding Superman and his superhero cohorts. I felt even worse. I nodded, hugged him again. He continued, excitedly.

Mason finished his meal and re-entered the living room to continue watching “Kenny the Shark.” How appropriate.
Terra was at the sink. I approached her and put my hands on her shoulders. “I’m really sorry,” I said.
“For what?” She didn’t turn around.
“For being a grouchy dick,” I said. “I shouldn’t act like that. I’m as bad as Mr. Bee.”
“No you’re not! It’s really hard. He’s been driving me crazy today too.”
“He’s just tired,” I sighed. “Please, let me do those.” I took a plate, and wished it were enough.

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