Monday, August 12, 2013

Three funerals and a wedding

Last night I was at a friend's daughter's wedding, this morning at a friend's father's funeral. Three dear friends of mine lost parents this past week. You hit a certain age, and this is what the landscape starts to look like, the odds tipped towards death. I understand. (But I don't have to like it.)

Everyone who died was quite old, in their eighties and nineties.  They had rich, full lives, a long run, loving children and grandchildren by their side. These things are all good. These deaths are sad, not tragic. I know.

And yet, as a daughter who has lost a mother, I feel it all so keenly, the tears streaming down my cheeks for men and women I barely knew but whose daughters' hearts are currently breaking, as they now face the world motherless or fatherless for the rest of their lives.

Even the wedding was not free of minefields for me. It was a lovely affair, the bride in her 20s, our friends - her parents, so proud and happy. There was food and wine and dancing. After the hora, the DJ hit a nostalgia pocket, and when he dropped the needle on "In the mood" I suddenly fell to pieces, quietly sobbing on Danny's shoulder.

I had suddenly been transported back to my childhood,my mother teaching me to lindy-hop in the kitchen -- table pushed back against the egg-yolk yellow walls, kicking up our heels on the gray linoleum tiles, the cats looking on in bemusement from their warm perch atop the water-heater cabinet.

I loved and missed her so much right then.

It comes in waves like that, unexpected, never unprovoked, sometimes unwelcome, sometimes a gift. They are entwined, like that -- the loving and the missing.

And for now, I'll take it, since its all I've got.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Birthdays come and birthdays go

This morning it was just me and Jacob, his brother away still, at camp; his father off at a comic convention in Chicago.  When he woke up at the ungodly hour of 6:30, I plopped down next him on the sofa. "So is there anything you want to say to me this morning, Jake?" Expecting.... I didn't know what.

"Happy birthday, Mom!" he piped up, the first of many birthday wishes from him today. Most delivered with a big hug and a kiss too.

It was odd not having Ethan around, as well. Though we had celebrated our birthdays last Sunday on camp visiting day -- his a week late, mine a week early -- it was still not quite the same as spending the actual days together.

But the biggest, oddest absence is, of course, my Mother.

This was the first birthday of my life that I didn't see or speak to her, she who has been there since the beginning, she who birthed me. It felt so odd, that sense of "something missing" hanging about me all day. That phantom limb whose faint ghost-pain keeps the bite of absence keen.

"Who else called to wish you Happy Birthday? Dan asked from Chicago when we finally connected to catch up.  "Not my mother" was my immediate reply.  "It just feels so strange to have a birthday without at least a happy birthday call from her."

"Well, it would be stranger if she DID call, wouldn't it?" He shot back, parrying with the gallows humor that those of us with dead parents use to lighten grief's load.

And yes, I laughed. And that was good.

And thus this was neither the best nor worst birthday of my life.  Fun was had. And the melancholy came and went, as it is now wont to do.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law sent a luscious, glorious floral arrangement that took my breath away (and I then spent the day fending off the cat from devouring it).

Friday night I was taken out to dinner by a small bunch of good girlfriends.  We had a completely lovely evening, full of laughter and talk and wine and good middle-eastern food.  Conversations swirling on, we bounced from movies to kids to husbands to jobs and back around again... getting older, middle school transitions, summer reading lists... travels or lack thereof (one of us confessed to sitting on a park bench and crying whilst reading the Facebook status updates of another of us from Paris, and I could so relate).

Presents came: handmade, floral, yummy, bejeweled, and from Paris.  Many many hugs were given and taken;  my heart light as a breeze, the whole walk home.

And no, my parents never called. Not my Uncle Walter, either.

Never again.

And yes I know it's just the price of growing older, of becoming the eldest generation, as countless families before me have so evolved.

I don't like it.  I don't have to like it.

But it surely beats the alternative.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On brevity being the soul of wit, and all that rot.

Flying home from BlogHer13 in Chicago

If you know me, you know I tend to be "long form."

What I usually call a post, most sane bloggers without perfectionism / obsessiveness and time management issues would call three posts.

But it has also been true that the same forces that lead me to such excessive verbosity are, at the moment, shutting me down. I have barely posted in the last six months. And while I am not happy about that, I also know I don't have the wherewithal to devote the same energy to my blog at this moment as I have in the past.

And, truth be told, I'm still struggling with the emotional aftermath of my Mother's death. Ironic that this blog began as my father was dying, of my need to speak from all the jumbled pain therein. That opened the floodgates that fed my writing.

And now the fallout from my mother's death has dammed up my words again. But not completely. A trickle is still flowing through.

So I am considering this: trying to let myself write really short posts for this month.

At our LTYM BlogHer breakfast in Chicago last Sunday, I was sitting across from Lisa Rosenberg (of the blog Smacksy) and when it became clear that another woman at our table didn't know her work, Alexandra and I fell over ourselves gushing about how much we love Lisa's blog -- how adorable her son is, how lovely the writing. Alexandra mentioned how refreshing it was that the posts were so short, just a perfect little slice of life.

And it got the wheels turning... maybe I can do this... write short posts with just one thought, one story, while waiting for the longer ones to come.

I have so, so many bits of writing sitting in my "unpublished" queue that I have been thinking of as "half-written posts." What if I just call them posts (with a little polishing of course) - hit the "publish" button and move on?

Would the world stop spinning on its axis? Unlikely. (But don't blame me if it coincidentally does.)

There is so much that has gone on this spring and summer that I haven't talked about yet here... graduations... rites of passage... summer camp... visiting cousins... Bat Mitzvahs... new babies... Jake's evolving development... even a recipe I wanted to share.

Also there is one very important, very PARTICULAR half-finished post that I have pushed myself to complete, even if it is less complete than I think it should be.  I have actually put it up on my blog just before this post - backdated, of course, to July 29th, the only proper day for my boys 11th birthday post, since it was, of course, their 11th birthday.

So you can read that here: They go to 11!

See, you get two for the price of one today. (A bargain!)

And so now, of course, I have written an un-short post about how I am going to be writing short posts.

(But then again, isn't that so me?)

More to come soon, I (sort of) promise.