Today was not a running day. Those days are always euphoric for me. Completing a run is the best drug ever - your body pulses with endorphins and that happy, achey achievement feeling. Yesterday I ran 11 miles with Bekah, so today I'm not running.
Today has been a reflective day. I've been thinking about all the ways I've disappointed myself in the last chunk of my life.
Most recently I am feeling a little inadequate at work. I wanted this job and now that I have it I just feel like I have little direction and little natural inclination toward it. Like maybe I'm a better editor than I am a writer.
And then I reach farther back and think about this time last year, when I talked with Tante Linda on the phone and she got online and looked for plane tickets for me and begged me to come visit. And I had taken that worthless holiday sales position with Williams Sonoma, the one that ate up my weekends and prevented me from traveling home, but netted me only $200 in the end. And I think she was crying on the phone, because Uncle Jeff was sick and I moved here and the family was far flung. And it's always bothered me that people don't visit their friends and family when they're sick. They wait until the person is dead and then attend their funeral. When it makes absolutely no difference to anyone except the ones left behind. But I did that. All my high and holy opinions, all my good intentions, like when I thought I'd fly home for Anika's graduation, which I also didn't do. Uncle Jeff died a few short weeks after that, and I could've gone.
And if I go back a little farther, to the last death that rocked my world, I think about all the things I said to Opa in the hospital the day he died. All the things I promised him I'd do. But it wasn't a conversation, it was a soliloquy, because he was in a coma and didn't hear a word I said. Why didn't I say those things to him five days earlier, when we sat on the couch together and he was well and wanting to talk and pour out the last of his grandfatherly wisdom?
I'm not feeling sorry for myself and I'm not on a compliments fishing expedition. I fully intend on going to bed in a little bit and just starting over tomorrow. I just am recording this to remind myself of what regret can feel like in retrospect, to hopefully prevent myself from feeling like this again in the future.
Also bumming me out right now:
1. my land lady might be selling the house that I live in and love, meaning that any way you look at it I'll have to move, again, and I may, in the meantime, have to deal with all that goes along with having a house on the market. Again.
2. the family that my friends and I are "hosting" Christmas for needs $32K for a kidney transplant that they probably won't be able to get. And they have infant triplets. And three other kids.
3. the Trailblazers suck this year.
4. the song The Sickness Unto Death by Typhoon
5. no matter how much I vacuum, there is still dog hair tumbleweeds rolling around my bedroom floor.
I wrote this after my uncle died. I have to edit this one a bit because I say things that are potentially very hurtful to people that I love, just not as much as I loved my uncle. And also because some parts are very gross. And also because it's pages long and I don't want to type it all out. And also because some grief ought to be kept to ones self. I won't edit out the expletives though, so pardon them.
Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
I haven't written. I don't really know what to say. I'm so . . . forlorn? I'm heartbroken, for sure, but in a new way that makes me feel so old. It's hard to explain. Mom and I walked down to the Loyola campus one evening when we were in Roger's Park, we tried to talk about it. I feel like there is a unique sadness people experience when someone they love dies. They feel pain in a way no one else does. Because we all experience the people we love differently. I love Daddy in a totally different way than Victoria does, for instance. I don't love him more or less, but differently, so if he were to die we'd experience it in completely different ways. I was trying to express this to mom and at the same time figure out what my sadness was. And I thought about when Opa died and how angry I became when some priest came in and tried to pray over his dead body. God, I was livid! And heart broken. And Uncle Jeff led me out to the hallway and just held me while I sobbed and slobbered all over his shirt. Ad it was a simple act of solidarity and human compassion and the recognition that people need to be touched when their hearts are falling apart inside them. He didn't ask any questions when I needed him to pull over to let me puke on the side of the road on the way to the hospital that day. He didn't try to force food down my throat in the coming weeks when I lost my appetite. And now . . .
I learned so much about Uncle Jeff while I was at home. I'd had no idea he was so well respected within his profession in Chicago. I only knew him to a very limited extent, apparently. I regret now turning down a ticket to go with him to a Decemberists show. I regret not ever taking him up on his offer to play racquetball with me. I regret not asking him more about his faith and life story and family story.
And now anything I learn about him will have to come from someone else. And I'll never again have the opportunity to go to a Decemberists show with him. But I'm thankful for the times I did say 'yes' to their invitations. All the times we went to Michigan together, all the ballets and symphonies, etc. And I miss him more now than I loved him while he was alive, which should tell me something about regret.
All that said, I think what really, really gets me is what T. Linda is going through. I keep remembering this conversation I had with her and Uncle Jeff when we were on our way somewhere together. Some ladies she works with wanted to get together once a month for various cultural events. Se said she went once and wanted so many times to turn to Jeff and comment on somthing and he wasn't there. She never went out with that group again. She said she would just rather spend her time with Jeff. And he chimed in and said, 'I feel the same way. She's my best friend. Why would I want to spend time with someone else doing the things she and I love?'
Because Alek and Anika will recover. Alek is in (by all accounts) a really happy, healthy relationship and he has Princeton in the fall. Ani has that amazing group of friends. And she's young and she'll be scarred for a while, but she'll fall in love and get distracted with figuring out what she wants in life and I just imagine that when all that happens, when Alek becomes the immense success he's destined to become and Ani grasps what makes her tick and runs with it . . . when that happens I imagine Linda wanting to crawl into bed and never get out again.
We shoveled dirt onto his coffin. Rabbi Bruce said at the grave site, 'This is a mitzvah, probably the hardest mitzvah we're called to do.' And in turns we shoveled dirt onto his coffin after they lowered it into the ground. And then everyone left and we stayed and watched as a dump truck full of dirt backed up to the grave and filled the hole the rest of the way. Then the gravediggers came with these jackhammer looking things that pounded the earth down.
Death is so disgusting. It terrifies me. What the fuck happens to us when we die? Our spirits vanish. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I do believe that our essences leave our bodies when we exhale for the last time. Where do they go? In my mind's drama I make it to Chicago to say goodbye to Uncle Jeff before he dies. I sit next to his hospital bed and whisper in his ear, 'If you go anywhere after this, can you find a way to let me know?' And he nods. I tell him I love him and say good bye.
And coming home from Chicago and the 4th of July weekend, a holiday I often spent with Linda and Jeff when I was a kid, I just feel guilty for every smile and laugh. I feel a strange obligation to be sad forever. And everything I say to T. Linda sounds so stupid! There really are no original words to use. And I'm trying to decide how to refer to it. Did he die? Did he pass? I hate when people refer to other people as 'passing' or having 'passed.' It's a euphemism really. Because they didn't go anywhere. It's not like they're on to the next thing. Call a fucking spade a spade. He's dead. He died.
I have this weird tug of war going on inside me. On the one hand I feel this renewed dedication to carpe-ing my diems, and really just going gang-busters. Living loud. Doing things. Pursuing my various and sundry interests and dedicating my life's efforts to someone who lived an exemplary, albeit abbreviated life. But on the other hand I want to crawl in bed and just sleep. For a very, very long time. Sleep and think this thing into oblivion. Or maybe just ignore it entirely. Erase it. Smoke a lot of pot.
Because god, this was shaping up to be a really great year. Work is good, friendships are solid, I feel on top of my game. Thriving in my youth. I am Icarus and the fucking sun just melted the glue that was holding my shit together.
It's a completely fucked up and horrible thing to say, but why couldn't that have been -? Or -? Fuck - I would trade -, -, -, -, all of them. To one tragic car accident. If I could just have Uncle Jeff back. I imagine lives to be like baseball cards. Some are just worth more than others. And what you want to keep in your collection are the valuable ones. I feel like a really valuable baseball card was just yanked from my collection."
I am putting an end to this depressive rant. I have said my piece. Or is it "said my peace?" Or is it an expression that is meant to have a double meaning? But never written? I don't know. I don't care all that much either.
Things that will improve my life this week:
1. the Blazer's game I'm going to tomorrow night. They're playing the Suns, who are my third favorite team in the NBA, so the outcome will be pleasing any way it happens.
2. everything I'm going to accomplish at work tomorrow. Namely, putting the finishing touches on the three grant drafts I am currently working on.
3. my next run. And the team trainings that start on Saturday morning.
Other random potentials that could improve my week:
1. seeing a really large man with lots of tattoos walking an absurdly small dog. This always makes me smile. If not laugh out loud.
2. scoring tickets to the Portland Cello Project collaboration show happening next weekend. (With Typhoon as guests!)
3. that Salomon cold weather running hoodie going on special at REI.
4. oh, and you donating to my cause. Go here. http://pages.teamintraining.org/oswim/eugene11/koldani