I was skimming the offerings on Zulily the other day, looking to see if there was anything I needed when I came across a black rooster statue. My first thought was Aunt Net would like that. It’s not terribly expensive. Maybe I should pick it up for her.
Except, she’s gone and has been gone for a year now.
I really didn’t have time to process that she had actually passed when it happened. I was in the middle of what was arguably the worst week I’ve ever had, and there just wasn’t room in that week to fit in processing everything that was happening.
So this is the way I’ve lost Aunt Net. Not at the viewing or during the planning of her funeral, but bit by bit like clawing chunks out of my flesh. A bouquet of brightly colored flowers here. A skinny stray cat we helped find a home there. A salt and pepper set another time. A black rooster statue or Guernsey cow print that remained unbought because it was for Aunt Net.
There’s no more reason to buy anything for her. I wonder when I’ll stop discovering she’s gone all over again. I wonder how many times I’ll stab myself on that realization before I finally learn that fact and can live with it as part of my life.
I know the blog has been really morose lately and for that, I apologize.
I’ve been actively treating my depression for 12 days now and I can see some improvements in that I actually have the urge to write again, but I also can see just how depressed I’ve really been and how many things I just haven’t been mentally dealing with because I just didn’t have the emotional strength or capacity to do much more than get up and go to work. Some of that urge to write is just deep cleaning my mental space so that I can move on to better, more positive things.
Writing this blog is one of my treatment actions. Yes, it can be sad to learn that your friend has been struggling for a very long time and has put on the as happy as I can make it face and made a good front. From my standpoint, some of this has been tough to write. I’ve been very used to not talking about it with anyone because I didn’t want to burden them.
Fat lot of good that’s done for me, obviously.
The thing is, as hard as this is, it has a positive benefit in that I can acknowledge it and put it away instead of brooding about it and letting myself sink deeper. As I do this bit of mental housekeeping, it makes room for thinking about other things.
It seems like with every post I find something more positive to think about and write about like “Will I try to do RAGBRAI this year?” (maybe? – Lots of variables here.) “When will it be warm enough to go on the first Kayak trip?” (not soon enough. I want to Kayak NAO!!) or my current mental obsession “Will the kitchen remodel be as awesome when it’s finished as I think it will?” (spoiler alert on the last one: oh, yes. It’s gonna be amazing.)
And that’s really the point of all of this: I’m handing all the things that have been dragging me down over to the universe to mind. I just don’t have the strength to carry them all anymore.
I don’t remember what I did a year ago today. I might have been painting and moving boxes into the new house. I might have been looking through the want ads for job postings. I might have been doing any number of things.
When I was doing them, I was too numb to feel the weight of it all.
I went through the motions of the work that needed done and somehow I managed to do it, despite the numb or perhaps because of it. You get used to the numbness, to not feeling anything as you go about your day and while it isn’t pleasant to feel numb, either, you tell yourself it’s got to be better than falling into the black abyss that you’re teetering beside. You just do what you have to and the rest falls away. It just takes so much energy to do what you have to do when you’re battling depression, too, that there’s no time for anything else.
I’ve hit the point now, a year later, where the medication it took me far to long to finally get is starting to work and I feel again. It’s not always good – the feeling, but it’s better than the not feeling and there’s starting to be enough time between the wound and the present for things to have some semblance of normality.
We got possession of the new house, the house on Teakwood, on Friday March 21, but it didn’t really feel like it was really ours until we walked in the door on Saturday, March 22nd, to start the painting and to some degree, I didn’t really want the new house.
House hunting had been a perennial part of our lives since at least the spring of 2008 (and perhaps even starting as early as 2006.) The old place, as much as it was the right choice when we moved in, wasn’t fitting the bill anymore and hadn’t for some time and when we looked at bringing in contractors to try to remodel the interior, we found that the effort was far beyond our means. If we wanted a different configuration, we needed a different house – which, on the Love It or List It scale was a firm “list it.”
But I didn’t really want to move.
We’d lived there for so long by the time we found the new place. Almost 15 years, which is to say the vast majority of my adult life and nearly as long as I lived in the house I grew up in – which was 17 years. It was painful and far from perfect, but it represented the longest period of stability of any kind in my life and I was afraid that leaving the old house would also mean abandoning the rock my life was anchored to and drifting away.
But ithe new place really was a good house. There was room for all of us, including the roommate’s cousin, who was staying with us at the time. The backyard looked back into a greenspace – flood abatement for the little creek that ran through the area. It needed some paint and a kitchen remodel (which starts this weekend – finally) but I really couldn’t find much to complain about except the color of the brand new carpet and the walls, and so the roommate made the offer and after a month of back and forth, we got the house.
When we finally got posession, we bought paint and set to work. It was early on Saturday morning. The day was cool, but sunny and bright. We’d barely gotten the paint cans opened when I got the call from my contact at the temp agency telling me my job wouldn’t need me on Monday March 24. I wasn’t terribly surprised. Things had been slow since before Christmas and the contractors are the first to go, so I’d been looking since the first of the year and even had some interviews lined up for the next week.
I still sat down in the middle of the kitchen cried. No matter how prepared I might have been, it still felt like yet another blow in what had been years of relentless pounding and I just kind of broke then. New house. Painting to do. No job. Uncertain prospects and the knowledge my Aunt was coming home from the hospital for what was certain to be the final time – and the week was just getting started.
This marks the one year anniversary of the worst week of the worst year ever in my life. Overall, it wasn’t all bad news, or all horrible. It was just so much change all at once and there was just too much to take in at the time.
At a glance the week went like this:
Fri March 21 – possession of the new house
Sat March 22 – start painting new house. Get call from my contact at the temp agency telling me my job won’t need me on Monday March 24
Tues March 25 – Aunt Net passes away AM
Weds March 26 – 3:00 PM – Interview for what becomes my current job
Thurs March 27 – job offer for the job I interviewed for on Wednesday (which is a good thing, but still.)
Monday March 31 – Aunt net’s funeral.
It was a hell of a week and after that point I pretty much was running on empty and dealing with each day by processing only what needed to be done to continue treading water emotionally that day. I’m trying to give each event a bit of processing room here, so please bear with me because it might be a bumpy ride.
Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.
– Apocryphal Old Indian
I’ve seen this saying told three ways. In one it’s “the government” which believes you can make a longer blanket by taking a foot from the top and sewing it to the bottom. In another it’s “a white man.” The least common way is “a fool.” I think I like it as “a fool” best. There world has lots of fools in it and while some of them are in the government and some of them are Caucasians, limiting the statement to either isn’t nearly strong enough to cover the veritable fool army outside the gates (as it were).
Besides, I’m kind of a cynic in the same way that Groucho Marx was kind of a comedian. I don’t think the government is the fool which believes you can make a longer blanket by taking a foot from the top and sewing it to the bottom. I think the government believes there are a lot of fools in the nation looking to buy longer blankets and they’re happy to be in the business of selling them.
My father passed away on March 1, 2012 – 36 days from his 68th birthday. We had a complex and often troubled relationship, but ultimately, as with most family, I think we cared for one another even if talking wasn’t really our thing. Over all, talking really wasn’t my dad’s thing in the first place.
It’s been three years now and I can finally think about it without weeping. Talking? Not so much yet, but I can at least put words to paper, so to speak.
The thing is that he was so much larger than life and yet so much frailer and human than he liked to admit on either count. He pushed someone out of the path of a LARC that didn’t stop at a checkpoint and the LARC ran my father over instead. He died several times on the operating table when they were trying to put him back together.
They said he’d never walk again or have children and he did both. He got up every day and worked in a foundry with a debilitating disability that would have left most people bedridden because he had a family to support. He picked himself up and went to work every day despite the pain he was in because he had a family to support and didn’t want us to starve. Subsequently, he was rated as being more able-bodied than he actually was, because he didn’t miss enough work to qualify for a higher rating, which would have given him a larger disability benefit to try to support us with. Catch 22.
I’ve seen X-rays of his hips and back. The damage was catastrophic. I have no idea how he actually stood, let alone walked.
I know was in constant, burning pain, and yet he refused to give up. But at what cost? It made him short-tempered and irritable. He could be jovial and gregarious entertaining friends at a barbecue or he could be so full of rage at a speck of potato left on a fork that had been washed that he’d drag me out of bed at 11:00 at night and dump all the cupboards on the floor and demand everything was re-washed before I could go back to bed. He was this legendary thing that ruled the house I grew up in and he was far from perfect.
And that’s the rub of it. It would be easier if he were the hero or the devil, but he was both. And neither. He wanted to be better. In later years, I know he succeeded – at least to some extent. I remember watching him with my sisters’ children and wishing he’d been like that when we were growing up, but it’s just not fair to compare the man he was as a grandfather to the man he was as my father. The grandfather had to be the father first to find his way, I think.
I’ve been told one of the last coherent things he said was “It’s not fair.”
“What’s not fair?” my sister asked.
“My life,” he spat with venom.
That better man, the one who loved his grandchildren and doted on them, one who was angry that his life hadn’t been fair, that the promise of his years had been slowly frittered away until they were spent? That’s not the man I knew growing up. I grew up in the shadow of the legend of my father and, to some degree, I suppose I will always live there.
What I learned from him is that life never is fair. Life just is. Things happen that no one deserves to have happen to them, for good or for ill. That’s just life. All we can do is pick ourselves up one day at a time and go to work.
I adulted today. Federal and state taxes are completed and filed.
I mostly tracked my food for the day for the whole benefit of the weight loss diary.
I even managed to enjoy the scarf WIP I finished without feeling too guilty about the bazillion other projects I should be working on next.
The pattern is Lobster Trap Scarf with Fishnet Trim by Lyn Robinson, which can be found on Ravelry for free. The yarn was a skein of Sanguine Gryphon Bugga in Tomato Frog (see Verdant Gryphon for comparable yarn), which I’ve been struggling to find just the right pattern for since at least 2011 (and maybe earlier – that’s when I added my skein to my stash, but that may not be when I originally bought it.)
All in all, not huge, world changing accomplishments, but they make me happy, and that’s not nothing.