I don’t know why. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe I’m more vulnerable today because the constant sinus pressure since the onset of spring is taking its toll on my emotional stability, but when I woke up yesterday I knew something was wrong. I recognized the hollow achiness in my chest. I knew I’d only be able to cry it out.
Instead, I told myself I didn’t have time. I told myself that if I stayed busy it might go away on its own. I have plenty to do. Look for a job, write some cover letters, edit something that I’d placed on back burner, finish a couple of blog posts, read some material for a position I really want, walk the dog, eat breakfast, bring up the laundry in the basement from three weeks ago. There’s no wiggle room in my day for an emotional monsoon. I needed to get my life done first. I needed to ignore my feelings.
But I couldn’t.
Every deliberate attempt to focus on the collection of tasks I’d outlined was futile. My mind refused to settle. I sat in sadness and shiftlessness. Then I sat in anger that I couldn’t force myself to just snap out of it and get at least one thing done. Half the day had been lost to a feeling of being overwhelmed with sadness and I didn’t know why. Maybe I need to honor the sadness with acknowledgement. Maybe I needed to ask myself what’s wrong and patiently wait until I have the answer. There has to be a reason why my heart and mind feel so heavy today.
Maybe it’s because I learned one of my friends lost her mother to cancer on Tuesday.
The summer after my sixth grade year, my parents decided to change my middle school. Ask any eleven year old to name their greatest fear and it’s somewhere along the lines of changing schools or not having any friends. Nervous wasn’t the word for it. I’d gone to the same elementary school for five years and practically knew everyone. And my old middle school was so overcrowded that my entire team received lessons in the outside trailers. We only inside the main school for electives. It still felt like elementary school.
Two things happened. As I climbed on the bus, I recognized a girl from my old school named Mo. We probably hadn’t shared more than twenty words but we suddenly had one thing in common: an hour-long bus ride to a new school across the city. And that’s all the commonalities anyone needs. During the after school program I recognized another girl named El. Her older brother dated my older sister. And that’s all we needed, too. My friendships with these girls grew for the next six years. We joined the theater department and spent a ridiculous amount of time in the performing arts wing of our school making fun of our beloved director, pulling childish pranks on upperclassmen, and incessantly chatting about the senior boys of our dreams until the year we were the seniors. We were forced to look outside the small confines of our high school shelter for something more.
We went our separate ways. I haven’t seen El since 2008. So when Mo called to inform me that El’s mother passed away, I had to search the recesses of my mind for my last memory of her mother. I couldn’t remember when, just that I’d gone to their family home for a visit over the Thanksgiving of Christmas holiday. I went not just to see El, but to see her mother who I just absolutely adored. She was the kind of mother who went to every single theatrical production; and we had five shows over the course of a weekend. Timely and costly but her mother showed up not just for her own daughter but for all of us.
Naturally, I thought of my mother’s younger sister who had a double mastectomy last month and starts chemotherapy on Friday. I prayed cancer didn’t claim her, too, hopeful it wouldn’t but not too cocky to think that cancer-free today has any bearings on tomorrow.
And then I thought of my immediate family. How I’m moving in less than three months to be near them but the same dynamics that forced me to leave three years ago are still at play today. Am I making yet another mistake?
Like the mistake of talking to a boy who’s utterly committed to being stupid. I know I shouldn’t care because I’m moving and we’re just friends (or not even friends) but sometimes I just want someone to share a laugh with or look at me and smile or pull me in his arms and hold me long enough to feel like everything really will be okay. I want him to care enough to say, “The death and the cancer and the moving and the mistakes will all be okay. It’s just life.” I think it’d make feel better even if it’s a lie. I think it’d make me feel better if he cared.
I threw a pity party but please don’t feel sorry for me. Every once in a while I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and can only see life through my shit-stained eyeglasses. It’s life. Everyone goes through the experience of having a friend lose their parent. It forces you to face your own mother’s mortality and that brings stuff right up to the surface. It brings everything right up to the surface. It answers the question of why I’m going back even though I know it could be a mistake.
Tumblr Family is everything. I miss them too much to stay away. If I’m right and not just feeling sorry for myself and I never fall in love or get married or have children, then I have to make sure one of my nephews look for me when I’m old and senile. Otherwise, it’ll be up to my sister and leaving my care to her is more frightening than the disease itself. She’d probably feed me canned dog food and I’m not going out like that.