Facebook literally made me laugh out loud yesterday. My “memories” included a public apology I had to make two years ago, after yelling at a houseful of guests at a surprise party we threw for friends. To tell the funny story I have to tell some sad stuff too, but that’s how life is, right? And if I’m going to have a blog I need to get this said anyway.
Almost three years ago we heard screaming as we woke up one morning, and ran downstairs to discover that our 27 year old son had had a seizure during the night, vomited in his sleep, and choked to death. There. I said it. I know, it’s brutal. My story since then has had much to do with surviving that morning and the loss of our precious son. I knew fairly soon after Zack’s death that I had to keep living but I had no idea what that would look like.
We’ve been fortunate in having an amazing community of love and support, and that makes a huge difference. I’ve always been a survivor at heart, so my M.O. was to just. keep. going. Simply said, you try to feel what you feel and go on as best you can. There were times when I cried all day but I also had many days when I laughed, and that felt like progress. The whole first year you just feel like you’re underwater, like your connection with the rest of the world is shaky, blurry and distant. You see them and interact with them but it’s all through a watery veil, and you’re the only one who is wet.
Maybe if I’d talked about it more I’d have been more in touch with what was going on inside, but what can you say besides, “I’m so sad”? It’s like an app running on your phone, draining your battery without you knowing; your worldview shifts beneath all those tears without your consent. The world had turned out to be far less secure than I thought, so inside I became very insecure without knowing it. I just wanted to fit back into the “normal” world as quickly and with as little attention as I could. I guess that was the thinking, but I can’t say for sure as I was completely uninformed of this new game plan.
Many of the new friends I’d made in Floridee were much younger than I, but that’s not unusual for me. I’ve always hung with who I enjoyed without categorizing, and never gave it a moment’s thought. I didn’t really think about it this time either, but on some level of desperate, unseen need, I took another tack this time around. I needed to be like them, not just with them. So apparently, despite reality and science and every truth known to mankind, I was now gonna be young again. Like 40. Which is crazy because I’m SO not 40. Like, I’m 40’s grandmother. But whatever. That’s the decree that came from my trickster subconscious and I pretty much insisted that my friends all go along with it. Like I said, I had some very supportive friends. Confused maybe, but kind. So they nodded their heads graciously when I talked about our generation, their eyes revealed nothing when I spoke of similarities that existed only in my imagination. And I went on blissfully unaware of my delusions. Ahhh, progress!
Almost a year after Zack’s passing, two things happened. The first was that we planned a surprise party for friends celebrating their 20th anniversary. I had to plan it a good month ahead as he traveled and it took a lot of coordination to make it work and keep it a secret. The second was another tragedy. Another couple in our circle of close friends lost their son in an accident, and we were all devastated. It seemed too cruel to be true, and it actually was. And while my focus initially was, of course, on helping to stand by this couple, it slowly began to knock me backwards as well. Within one month we had the loss of Brandon, then Mother’s Day, the anniversary of Zack’s death, and in the midst of all this, the party for Katina and Greg. Because it was a surprise for a lovely couple who had made it 20 years, we decided to go on, and I thought I could do it.
A BIG miscalculation on my part. Like, scary bad. As if the exorcist threw a party, complete with green slime. I was not into it. And looking back, I think I was just waiting for an excuse to lose my mind and release all of the black venom in my heart. My poor, innocent guests. Like lambs to the slaughter. At one point someone was taking a picture of me and and Katina’s daughter Savannah, a girl I adore. It should have been a nice moment. And then Katina said those fateful words: “Oh nice, Savannah, a picture of you with your OTHER GRANDMOTHER.”
Sure, they seem like innocuous words. Unless your shaky world is built on desperate irrational denial; then not so much. I imagine the black ink of a venomous octopus shooting into the room as I snarled,”Grandmother?! What did you say? GRANDMOTHER?!?!” There was a bit of nervous laughter… until I put a stop to that with another snarl, “Don’t be laughing.” And then proceeded to berate my poor friend for her cruelty AFTER I GAVE HER A FREAKIN’ PARTY. I know, it’s ridiculous, and I can’t help but shudder even now as I remember it. But the truly amazing part was that I didn’t know I did anything wrong. Everyone left soon after, what a surprise, and I went to bed and sank into a deep black octopus sleep. I was telling the story to another friend days later and when she also laughed nervously I said, “Yeh, that’s what they did.” Kay waited a moment and then said gently, “But then you apologized, right?”
I swear that is the first time I saw it. My watery seas parted and I saw for the first time in a year how deeply delusional I had become. How insistent I was with my friends that I was their age, dammit. ….that the whole prior year had not happened. That the world was not really as insecure as it turned out to be….and yes, that we had not lost Zack.
Even I know I’m not really 40. Now. But in the moments of our lives, we can be so out of touch with all the work our spirit is doing beneath the surface of our busy days…our will to survive. My poor spirit gets a workout. As do my friends. I posted that heartfelt apology and my friends were gracious to accept. In fact, we laugh about that night now and it’s easy, it’s SO ridiculous. I asked one of my closest friends later, “How could you go along with that? Why didn’t you tell me?” Another nervous laugh as she said,”Well, I did try to say something sometimes about your outfits.”
…..wait a minute. Nobody is saying ANYTHING about my fashion choices. Release the black ink!!!!