Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You think you're ok and then you pour yourself a cup of tea and burst into tears.

This weekend I had my first time alone in the house in, well... forever, really. At least years. Between needing help with stuff and the fact that there's so many of us, alone time hasn't exactly been all that available. (And other people are even more screwed, because I hardly ever leave the house for more than a couple of hours.)

Anyways, I was really, really alone for a substantial amount of time: 2 days, all to myself. I was so looking forward to it... sometimes being 29 and living at home is NOT the adventure it might be advertised as.

Mum & Dad were away overnight, SisterCh went to her boyfriend's for the weekend, there was a PUS or two upstairs, but I refuse to acknowledge their existence, so they don't count. It was just me.

But halfway through the first day on my own, around 3 o'clock or so, I started to get this itchy scratchy feeling, and I just ... couldn't figure it out. I felt ... restless and uncomfortable, and emotional for no reason.

And I didn't really understand why it was I was feeling so weird, at first: I often have time when the house is mostly empty... when Mum & Dad go north for their cigarettes, when everybody is gone to the North End for a feast, or to open houses. So blocks of a couple of hours where it's just me are not unheard of.

I stopped what I was doing, checked for the mail, went out to the kitchen, and made myself a late lunch. I was listening to my radio program, nice and quietly, nothing blasting (because that's the way I like it), fussing with the stupid kettle, because it's hard for me to pick up and pour (at least to pour accurately), and I really wanted a cup of tea.

As I finished making my sandwich and cutting up my sour pickle, I poured the hot water onto the tea bag, the smell of the tea hit me, and :wham: my breath just caught in my throat.

And then I realized what the feeling was, what was so 'off' about my day: No Nana.

A little part of me had been waiting for her to come down looking for her mail, wrapped up tight in her bathrobe, cup of tea in one hand, portable phone in the other, complaining about the cold, or the PUS, or coming over to steal a slice of my pickle.

And I sat there drinking my cup of tea, thinking of Nana (who was all about the tea) tears streaming down my face, as I realized this was the first time I'd been alone in the house, really, truly alone, in a very long time.

And I realized that while I mostly think I'm doing ok, sometimes it just comes out of nowhere - that feeling of "how is this real?", how is she gone? 9 months later, and I still don't believe it all the way... there are still times when I pick up the phone to call and invite her to go shopping with us; times when I hear the fighting start upstairs and my stomach reflexively tightens with fear - will I have to call the cops this time - before I remember she's not there anymore and I don't have to protect her (and they can rip each other to pieces for all I care); times when I automatically turn on her shows before I remember that she's not coming in to watch them and I can pick what I want to watch (and even more times that I watch her shows anyways, because who wants to have to catch up on a new show?); times when I can almost believe that she's at school, or out with her friends, or even still in the hospital.

And I know it's not true, but I'm surprised, still, by how much it can hurt.

Especially because on the day to day, I think I'm doing fine. I think I'm coping with all the crap that's going on, and doing a damn good job of it. But then I'm alone for a little while, and the smell of tea does me in. And I know it takes time, it was just... unexpected.

I don't know that I felt better afterwards, exactly, but I did feel like at least I knew what the problem was, why I was on edge. (I hate feeling wrong and not being able to figure out why.)

In an odd coincidence, I finished writing this post last night, and turned on the Tivo. Then I watched watched this week's episode of True Blood (which, if you don't watch it, is very good, if a bit graphic), and the following scene got me started all over again.

It was a deja vu-ish moment for me, I'll tell you.

Spoiler Alert... plot points discussed below, not vital ones, especially, but if you haven't watched this week's episode, stop reading here.

In this scene, the main character, Sookie (who's name is pronounced suck-y; although I still think it should be sue-key, rhymes with cookie)'s grandmother has just been murdered. This is after the wake and the disastrous funeral, and she's alone in the house, with a pie her grandmother had baked. Her last pie. I'm sure you'll see what I'm talking about.

Sometimes, it's just too real.
(Although I can assure you, I do not cry as gracefully as that.)


YoYo said...

I can't even tell you how right there I am with you. I was broken after watching that episode. I had a Nana visit in my dream last night, pretty weird that I just read this, this morning. <3 Nana

Jen said...

NTE, I'm so very sorry for your ongoing loss. That scene with Sookie hit me hard as well, I could not watch the whole of it.

Most of my books are still packed away from a move last year so I can't get this quite correct, but there is a passage in John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany about how we do not lose our loved ones all at once, we lose them bit by bit over time, when the mail for them stops coming, when the last pie has been eaten, when we find that there is too much tea in the cabinet. The loss comes again and again. It was a very powerful sentiment for me when my mother passed away in '02, and it helped me cope, so I figured I'd share it with you. If you have not read A Prayer for Owen Meany, I think you would like the story.