Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    My Grandmother's birthday is this month.  This week now.  Sometimes, when someone dies, the anniversary of their birth or death just sneaks up on you, or (if you're lucky) right by you. As someone who's lost (I was going to say a 'fair' number, but 'fair' doesn't enter into the conversation when you're talking about death, so I'll stick with) more than one person I loved, I've lived through loss long enough to know that it (mostly) does fade enough so that some years a birthday or death day will come and all I'll feel is that tug of longing, that twinge of regret that I no longer have that person in my daily life.
    But firsts?  Firsts of anything are ripe old bitches - and I know that I have been not been doing particularly well with my grieving process in the first place, this time around.
    Mostly I feel like everybody else moved on, and I'm still stuck in last summer, holding the hands of a woman whose face I'm trying to carve into my memory as I watch my face fade from hers. 
   I can't explain how powerfully & profoundly that experience has changed me, and yet - nothing else has changed! She's still not here, and I still am: stuck in my bed, in this house, in this life that I don't want or recognize, but lacking the ideas, strength (physically & mentally), and just plain energy to do anything about it. 
    And now her birthday is coming up, and I'm hyper-aware of it.  As in, I usually have no idea what the actual date is, unless I have a doctor's appointment in the near future, but ever since July 1, the calendar has been mocking me.  It's been a constant, in my face, reminder that JULY IS HER BIRTHDAY and HER BIRTHDAY IS COMING, PREPARE TO CRY. The date has been getting closer and closer, and my mood has been getting darker and darker. 
    I think about how, for most people, Friday will have no meaning at all... even in our family, Grandmother's actual birth date was always one of those "Is it the 17th form 1919 or the 19th from 1917 or maybe it's the 21st?" kind of deals. (My family is bad at dates. Also time. Also lots of other things that matter to me a lot, which you can see would be kind of frustrating.) And for me, Friday is a huge, looming, taunting thing that I'm trying desperately to avoid, knowing it's going to come and suffocate me anyways. 
    Because, as I said, I'm no amateur at this whole grieving thing (even if it feels like I am, every. single. time.), I've done my best to keep occupied, knowing that distraction is one of my best coping skills.  I've tried making plans for the actual date - my best friend is in New York, all my siblings are working, Mom says she is up for anything, but lately it's all she can do to not melt into a puddle every time she ventures out into the hot - and I think I've wrangled myself into a kiddo sleepover, finally, but - like everything else this summer - it's complicated too.  No Longer Youngest Nephew (soon to be by the power of two, come to think of it) is 13 now, and .... while he's up for games and stuff, it's as if when his voice cracked, his preferences for spending time with me did also. It's not that he doesn't love me, or that we can't still have a good time together every now and then, but he'd rather be with aunts who drive cars to New Hampshire where he can hang out with his older cousins, or aunts and uncles who let him watch R rated movies and take him to hockey games.  The largely sedentary Auntie NTE is no longer first (or even, honestly, second or third- which would be sitting at home playing video games) choice and, wow does that sting.
    Still, I'll be glad to have them here on Friday, to give me something other than my own gloom to focus on. And - even though I know it is, in part, because of the overwhelming upcoming birthday - Holy Jupiter has this month (/season/past 9 months) been full of gloom for me. Let me just mention this one other thing, real quick, that kind of explains why I've been avoiding this space and writing in general for the last little (ok long) while:
     Along with the gloom, which I recognize as both a normal part of grieving and a truly hideous part of grief, I've also been experiencing something a little bit more troubling, because it dabbles its feet in the "how close are we to the edge of depression here, really" pond, and that's terrifying to me.  It's something that has been growing since before she died, when I felt like it was just me and UJ in the trenches and everybody else was sending care packages every now and then, but had no idea what it was truly like to be waging war against a disease that made you a stranger to the person you loved so much.  And it blossomed once we lost her, and then my sister & her husband were forced to move out, and my mom's depression spiralled downwards, and everybody I knew was fighting their own ridiculously hard battle, and asking for my help, sure, but you can't tell people how alone you feel when they're crying on your shoulder.  And somehow, even though I've tried reaching out, I am left, once again, feeling forgotten and outlived.
     Which is not the kind of thing you can say to your pregnant baby sister, or your other baby sister who moved to the middle of nowhere again, or your other baby sister who you're so fucking proud of you could burst, but miss more than air sometimes - but it's how I feel.  And even though I know that my family is not, in fact, "leaving me behind" (and also that it's not their responsibility to make me feel better about feeling left out, really), but it's kind of hard not to feel that way when you've experienced it so often, just by virtue of being the sick one. First with my high school friends, then when all my college friends started getting jobs and getting married, then when they all had their first round of kids, then their second (and some are now on their third), and this may sound weird, and horrible and selfish, but it recently just occurred to me that this is the first time that I have been the only one living at home, and it makes me feel (ancient and weak and useless and pathetic) a whole boatload of things that I know I am not, but still am feeling. 

And, oh my god, so fucking lonely.
   Which is why tumblr has been great, because: So many spoonies! and some of them are old like me! (Because holy jebus, the teenagers.  Talk about feeling ancient.) So, less lonely: here I come.  And a lot of them feel left behind too.  So I don't feel so ridiculous about both loving the sight of my sister's gorgeous baby bump (Seriously? She's one of those adorable pregnant people who glow so much they nearly sparkle.) and still being so sad that it isn't me.  One of my other sisters recently lost a ton of weight by eating healthy and doing an exercise program, and I was so glad for her, and at the same time, I kind of wanted to punch her in the face. Because I've eaten nothing but cardboard for a year, and I've eaten 3/4 fruits and vegetables for the last 2 years, and I still can't stand up without wanting to die.  I miss moving my body and feeling good about it and not resenting everything it took away from me.  I miss trusting it.  (That's one of her big things, this hippie-crunchy sister of mine, "trust your body, it knows what it needs" which is almost so naive as to be cute, except for how my body apparently knows that it needs to lay on the floor a lot and never move, and make me feel like I'm constantly being crushed by the air? my clothes? gravity? So yeah: hilarious.  And rage inducing.) 
    So, yeah: it's been a rough couple of months - not without its rays of sunshine, of course.   In the forms of a family wedding and house guests who like to chat; a baby shower in the making; a couple of kids who grow like weeds having birthdays; a trip to the movies; a birthday trip out for me that included chocolate fondue and a book signing (which - heaven, right?); and even little things like a couple of really good books (a new JK Rowling under a pseudonym? Must acquire immediately!); coming up on finishing a really large (3+years) project; starting some new crafty things; making sisters laugh when they feel like they never will again; a pining Robb Stark (I'll post a picture this week); and learning how to apply makeup correctly for the first time in my life, via Youtube videos.
  But this is going to be a hard week, and I'm going to need as much sunshine as possible to make it through, so if you have any, please feel free to share in the comments.  Hope your weeks/months are going a little bit cheery-er, and even if they're not, at least you know you're not alone.  {God everything I'm writing today is like a therapy session: I'm sorry internet.  (I'm not really sorry - it felt kind of good to acknowledge that shit.)}

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