The weird weather here is suiting me just fine. It seems fitting that everything should be weird , out-of-the-ordinary, atypical. The sun is shining while all the clouds on the horizon are as dark as pitch. There are frogs chirping in the little pond out front. The pond was frozen in December. June in January.
I found pictures I took of you in June, that I didn’t realize were taken then. One is of you in your dad’s chair with Sadie beside you. You are looking at me out of the corner of your eye. The other is when we went down to look at the storm damage that the straight line winds had inflicted on the trees. I caught you with your back to me. The tree that was by the little stream lay on its side, uprooted. I don’t know why the pictures startle me when I find them. They were taken 17 days before you died. That is probably what startles me.
The videos of you with the dogs at Panther Town were taken the next day or so. It reminded me that I had been a bit flustered when you said you wanted to come down for the 4th of July. You had just been in town a couple of weekends before. Your Uncle and Aunt were coming and your sister and her then fiance too. I was annoyed to have to figure out where everyone was going to sleep. I was annoyed at having to cook and take care of everyone. I have felt guilty about that after what happened.
You always said I do too much. No one expects it of me. I impose it on myself, and then I resent it. I have a hard time saying no to you, or your sister or dad. I realize it is deeper. I try not to think about it, but the thought has occurred, that had I said no,
“No sweetheart, you can’t come, there are too many people coming to the house already.” But I couldn’t, and I didn’t. Speculation is useless. The mind rattles on anyway. You might have chosen to climb in the Red River Gorge had you not come here. You might have survived that climb. I know, it didn’t happen that way.
I didn’t say “no”, though I thought about it. I said yes when I wasn’t fully committed and I felt a bit resentful of my inability to say no.
You probably picked up on it. You certainly were complimentary and appreciative.
See ultimately, I want to blame myself. Somehow, I want to say this is my fault. How can there be this much pain without me somehow being at fault?
You can’t speak to this. I can imagine you shaking your head and smiling. I can imagine you saying “really?” in that pseudo sarcastic tone. I am so glad I had so much time with you. I learned your voice tone and facial expressions. I knew what to expect.
I’m not sure why I have cycled back in to thinking about you all the time. When I wake up at night you are the first thing in my mind. I don’t know why the flood gate seems to be stuck open.
Random thoughts that begin “If only” keep occurring. If only I had said no to you. That is the only thing I had control over. Then I think, if only it had rained that day. I have been thinking that a lot lately, every time it has rained here. Those are the main two “if only’s I have on my broken record. I have one other that makes me quake inside. When you went to the car to pack up that day for your climb, I started to go out and give you one last hug. Oh my – if only I had!
See I spend an awful lot of time wishing I could have squeezed out a few drops more from that precious time with you. I know it would not help me now. I really do understand that at times.
I have chosen to go learn to throw on the potters wheel again. I have chosen to take Sky to “The Courteous Canine” class. I have chosen many things to try to fill up my days. I am having to learn to live without you. I didn’t want to have to do this.
I have a mask I wear out in public. I can keep it in place fairly well. I realize the smile doesn’t always reach my eyes, and that my laughter has changed pitch and tone. I can mask my voice on the phone sometimes. The tone has flattened. You would notice, but most people don’t.
Most disconcerting is that I have returned to something I did as a child. I , when in a group find that I am standing by myself, just off to one side, observing while going through the motions. I know you did that too. I could see it in your eyes. There is one picture taken with your grandmother, sister and father years ago. You have that expression on your face of disconnect. I think everyone has done that at some point. It is becoming a default action for me. I assume I will reconnect eventually. I’m not sure if it matters or not.
I panic easily. In the most benign situations, things like not being able to find my keys or phone create a feeling of panic. I forget where I have parked my car and the panic rises. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it is there.
I can see how easy it would be to become trapped at home. I am fighting that. I refuse to let myself become homebound. I think that would totally dishonor us as a family and you and your sister most of all.
I can’t live your life for you. I can’t make up for the things you will miss doing. I cannot make every day a monument to you. I was so happy when I first held you in my arms 30 years ago on February 4th. Even in the incredible joy of the moment, I remember the sobering thought that I had born you into a world where you would be destined to die. I told God that I was handing you over to Him then. I remember these things as if they were yesterday. I haven’t figured out what to do with all these thoughts. I am reluctant to hand them over just yet.
I am confident that you know that I love you. I don’t think you ever doubted that. I know you love me too. I still carry you next to my heart.