I got up extra early this morning to drive Bob’s son, Bobby, to work. When I say extra, I mean 4:30 so we could hit the road at 5:15. Dairy farmers might be eating lunch then, but I put that down as early.
The first thing I do is turn on the coffee pot and clean the counters in the kitchen. The counters are usually cleaned before I go to bed, but Bob and Bobby are midnight munchers so there’s always evidence of snacking. I’m used to it, and if I didn’t find it, I would be holding feathers under their noses to check for normal respiration.
Bobby isn’t much for conversation at that time of the day so I might get a mumbled ‘good morning’ when he gets in the car and a quick ‘see you later’ when he gets out of the car. There are days when I compare him to my son, Jack, and Bobby always comes up short. The truth is somewhere in between; it’s much easier to memorialize Jack as flawless. A live 23-year-old man (or 50+ year old woman) is flawed. And there’s the rub.
Driving back to Bob’s, I was already in a sad frame of mind. Tired, martyred (which is how I feel sometimes when I offer to do something and the offer is accepted), grieving: I was teetering on the edge of weeping or yelling.
The first thing I saw when I opened the door to Bob’s house was the USB cord that had been on the computer desk waiting for me to wed it to the MP3 player and the computer. It was in 4-5 pieces. Halo! Damn dog. I felt bad for her spending the night in the kennel and let her out before I left to drive Bobby. And this is the thanks I get?
I burst into tears and started hitting the dog with the cord pieces. Halo’s tail was wagging as she tried to leap and snag a 5″ long piece of cord. I ended yelling at the dog and Bob as I fought unsuccessfully against crying.
That’s the way I sent Bob to work this morning.
And 2 hours later, I’m still unsuccessfully fighting back the tears. Not because of Bob or the USB cord or Bobby or the counter or anything else. All roads lead back to Jack. He’s at the end of every trail of emotion that I have had since January 15, 2009.
I read Nina’s FB share about childhood experiences with him and his defense of her against anything that might make her sad. I couldn’t help but smile and tear up about the damn chapstick.
I think about Jack’s and Nina’s driving lesson on the back roads of Portland with Savanna shrieking in the backseat, “We are all going to die! You’re a terrible driver!” And Jack telling Savanna that he and Nina would be sitting in the backseat while she learned to drive and that they would both be yelling at her.
I hate every super hero movie that’s come out since he died. I know how much he loved those things.
“Who do you think would win in a contest between Wolverine and Spiderman?” (“I thought they were both good guys. Why would they be in a contest?”) “You know. Just to see who was the best. I think Spiderman would win, but Wolverine’s super healing powers might give him an advantage. The Incredible Hulk can’t even compete.”
Would he ride to work in complete silence, playing video poker on his cell phone? Probably. But maybe not. He had a hard time keeping still and silent. When I was giving him the silent treatment, he couldn’t resist poking and prodding until I reacted and then would make silly faces until I laughed. Hard to imagine him still and silent. How many times did I go to wake him in the morning and have a near heart attack when he’d leap up yelling “OOGABOOGA!”? Often enough but not so often that I’d be expecting it.
I can’t seem to straighten out these emotions, stop crying, and get ready for work this morning. You would think that after 928 days, I wouldn’t have a day like this. But I do. Does the grief go into remission and come back with a vengeance like cancer? It sure seems to do that today.
My tendency is to do the same thing with grief as I did with my alcoholism. Just shut the door, draw the curtains, refuse to talk to anyone who calls or comes by. Isolation might prevent the spread of communicable disease but it doesn’t do much for grief or drinking. I think it just gets worse.
So this is one of those one moment at a time days. I have no idea when it will get better, but I know from experience, it will ease and be more bearable. Will it go away? Nope. And thank God that it doesn’t.
To have it go away would be to not feel and to not feel would be to not remember and to not remember would be like Jack wasn’t here at all. And the thought of that is unbearable. The joy of his life always trumps the loss of his life. All ways, always.