My sister is officially retired. She has worked all of her adult life. She is one of those focused people who methodically go about a task and gets it done, checking it off her list. I am married to one of those people too. For a person like me who flies by the seat of her pants, it can make you feel, for lack of a better word, inefficient.
I can write with both hands, ambidextrous I think is the term. My mother encouraged me to use my right hand because it frustrated her to have to teach me how to do things with my left. There are some things that naturally seem to work better with my left. I have always worn a watch (when I wear one) on the “wrong” arm. I can write with both hands at the same time, the left hand writing however is backwards and a mirror image of the right. I am a person of quick decisions. I do not like to let arguments fester I want all unpleasant things to come to an equitable end, quickly. I have always had a sense of urgency about disagreements between humans. I hate the idea of carrying a grudge. In other matters however, in imaginative things, I like to ruminate. It is like building a lego building in my head. I am telling you this so you will understand the mad woman you are dealing with.
I have another sister who is a master of the little details. She observes and records in her memory every detail of everything. I am not saying she literally remembers everything because that is impossible, but she remembers more than the average person.
Both of my sisters are creative, imaginative and very talented. They both have lovely families that are grown to adulthood and are making lives of their own.
In a family we often try to figure out where we fit in the scheme of things. I fall into the category of thinking that I may be the odd man out. But I think my sisters may think that of themselves too. None of us have the Father Knows Best or Ozzie and Harriet family. There is messiness. There are things we wish were different, and unfortunate things we have had to accept, mostly about ourselves. Raised by a very passive aggressive mother whose overriding need to control was a powerful force, we probably wittingly or unwittingly embody some of that behavior. I think from what I have been told by others, however, that the need to control is a big part of being human.
Personally I was always astounded that my children have turned out as well as they are, given the fact they had me for their mother.
Loss puts up an awfully big magnifying glass through which to observe your life. I have a magnifying mirror in my bathroom and it is terrifying sometimes. Some things you just don’t want to see so up close. Loss shows you how not in control you are. You scramble trying to find those things you “really” do control. Slippery at best, those things are ephemeral too. Circumstances change within you and outside of you.
You can make a list, but the day may show up with other plans. You may remember everything, every detail but before you know it the next “thing” is happening and there is no time to page through the memories. You may quickly decide, and have plenty of time to regret your hasty decision, or chew your cud for hours only to find that the opportunity in which to act has passed. This is the “stuff” that life is made of. The messy stuff. Locked up in your own little head you wonder if you might just be the only person who has had to deal with such.
The good news and the bad news is – no. You are just one of many who are caught up in this life today.
Loss however is like a migraine that won’t go away. Everything is amplified. Any bad feelings you have had about yourself are probably going to look bigger. The things you want to hold on to sometimes seem smaller – farther away – just out of reach. The knowledge of the loss is like a ringing in the ears, or a buzzing in the background, a floater in your vision that won’t let you see around it. And if you were not the odd man out before in your family, you may be now.
My sisters have been wonderful, as have my in-laws. I cannot complain. They check in with us without hovering. I know without a doubt if I needed them, they would be here for us.
I do get really lonely. It is partly my own fault, because I don’t know where to go. There is no getting away from my thoughts for long. I have worried that by writing as often as I do, that I am dredging through this too often. Some days it helps, some days it doesn’t. I never know until I am through. But writing or not writing does not make the buzzing go away.
As an adult, I have been on my own, with my husband and children for almost 35 years. My son overlapped with 29 of those. Maybe I was wrong to have built my life so much around my children. Too late to change that now. This is one of those places where the ruminating takes over if I am not careful. Step back, take a deep breath.
Things have not gone the way I assumed they would, and it is difficult to regroup. I hate being forced too. There is nothing I can do for my son, the man, now. I can do things in his memory, but really, I think I am pretty much living my life in his memory right now anyway. Memorials and monuments seem to annoy me right now. They seem so flimsy in comparison to the person they are meant to honor. But then, I am flimsy too.
I am one of the few people who knew him as well as you can know another peron. I knew him as the son, watched him as the brother, saw him and heard about him as the friend. I am a repository for that collection. Maybe these writings are my list, my space to sort through all the little details. A place to quickly jot down stream of consciousness writing or ruminate. Maybe I am more like my sisters than I thought. Maybe we are all more like each other than we thought. Maybe that’s why in this season we are supposed to remember to have good will towards our fellow man. There is a magnifying glass out there for everyone it seems, like it or not.