TW: illness, death, death of a child, grief, swearing.
This is a difficult week.
I mentioned in my last post that things have been decidedly unsilly around here of late. In fact they’ve been full of tears and anxiety. This is due to a confluence of things. Any of them would be pretty bad on their own. All of them happening around the same time is… well it sucks, I’ll just say that.
The first thing is that last week my husband went to the doctor, which is not an easy thing for him in the first place. The news there isn’t too dire, really. But it’s unbalancing. That reminder that “hey, you can’t just eat a bunch of garbage and think your body is going to be fine. You’re not a raccoon.” And all tied up with the sexist cultural conditioning that makes me believe, ridiculously, that it is my responsibility, as the woman, as his wife, to be his caretaker, and so if anything is wrong, it is my fault, because I should have taken better care of him.
That’s a load, and I know it’s a load. But it’s what I learned, what’s been modeled for me, and the paths are worn so deep in my psyche that I don’t think I can get off them if I tried.
That was the first thing, and it was the primer.
The second thing is much worse.
We found out on Sunday (oh bad news travels so fast these days… but so does good news, I suppose), an old friend of mine, M, was gone. It was cancer.
M was married to B, whom I have known since the second grade, if not before. They got married six days after Husband and I did. A month ago. I cannot wrap my mind around these facts. Married a month. Just like us.
It wasn’t exactly unexpected. As I said, he had cancer. And a particularly bad type, as I understand it. But he had already done so much better than expected, that, at least from the far off vantage point of someone who wasn’t really involved, it seemed reasonable to hope.
I suppose it always seems reasonable to hope.
I wish I could remember him better. That’s breaking my heart.
We were friends in the same circle, in high school. We hung out in groups, but we didn’t really talk to each other all that much. Other than the three, or maybe four weeks that we dated. I was a sophomore. I’d never had a boyfriend before. It was very short lived, as those sorts of things generally are. But after that it was weird. You know how it is. It was high school. And after it stopped being weird, because so much time had gone by, I guess we were just so used to that semi-avoidance that there was no reason not to continue with it.
So now I find myself with most of my memories of M being from that very brief period where we did spend a lot of time together, and they just don’t seem like the kind of thing it’s appropriate to share, you know? Not when I’ve been friends with his wife since the second grade. And even those are far away and hazy. Well it was almost fourteen years ago, wasn’t it?
What I remember is, when he laughed it was with his whole body. And that he had boundless energy, in a way that sometimes reminded me of a labrador puppy (I had a lab… this is a compliment! I also remember how he used to tease that dog because once when he was at my house, my mom found the dog eating soap, and M thought that was hilarious). And he was loyal to his friends and weirdly chivalrous in a way that would probably irritate the shit out of me nowadays, but at sixteen I found it charming.
The memories I have are all of a boy. I don’t really know what kind of man he grew up to be. In the pictures I’ve seen of him as an adult, he seems serious. But I remember him always smiling.
The last time I saw him was around two years ago. Some of the old friends got the gang together for beers and memories, as an alternative to going to their ten year reunion (I say “their” because most of the people there were a year ahead of me in school, so if they’d just gone to the actual reunion I wouldn’t have been able to see them. This is why the whole high school reunion thing makes no sense; so many of my friends were a year ahead or a year behind. Who only hangs out with people in their grade?). It was a really fun night. I don’t think I talked much to M. Just like before.
But I am so sad. I wish he were still in the world.
So that was the second thing.
The third thing really deserves its own post. I have one I’ve been trying to write for months, and maybe, hopefully, I will get it up in time for his birthday. E’s birthday.
I’ve mentioned E before, obliquely. I never actually met E. He came and went so quickly I never had the chance. It was… what? Six days from his birth to his death, and I was in another state. So I never had the chance to meet him.
And even if he’d lived, I wouldn’t have been a big part of his life. He would probably not know who I was. Our relationship would have mostly consisted of me “liking” pictures of him on facebook. But even so, I’d made a little space for E in my heart. And that space, that was meant for cuteness, instead is occupied by sad.
E’s first birthday is coming up. On Friday. He should be taking or starting to think about taking little steps. He should be babbling away and occasionally getting some actual words in the mix. He should be smashing cake in his face. He’s not doing any of those things. And it’s the worst.
So that’s the third thing.
And all of this just fucking sucks.
It’s going to be a rough October. Take care of each other out there.