Photo: New England is so beautiful if you know where you are going and where to look. When we first moved here, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why the people here so fiercely defend this place. But time to time, my adventures take me to truly breathtaking places. This cranberry bog is one of them. This little photo does not do it justice.
I walked with a friend through this beautiful scenery today, the sun shining, the children running and laughing ahead, and she asked me a question that was really poignant: “How much of the smiles and happy demeanor that you show to the people around here is actually true? Do you feel like you have to put on a show for other people just to seem friendly and pleasant? Is it all an act sometimes?”
I didn’t directly answer her question. I was honest about my vulnerability out by myself, finding it easier and safer to be out with the boys than be in places like where we were walking alone and exposed. She saw right through me. “Yeah, but… I mean, how much of your time with the people you encounter throughout your day spent smiling just to make other people feel comfortable? You know, so people don’t think you’re a bitch or you’re unpleasant or whatever?”
I smirked. “100%. People don’t really give a damn if I’m having a bad day.”
“Well, I do,” she said.
“I know you do.”
This was a week for really putting on a show. Playdates almost every day. Appointments. Stuff to do. And plenty of interactions with strangers, acquaintances and friends alike to make everything I needed to happen. I did a lot of listening, a lot of validating, all while trying to keep my brain from wandering too far down into the dark places. I’m not sure if this is just me or if this is how it goes now that I’m in my 30s, but my stress and grief now seem to manifest physically rather than mentally, so my days have been marked with a lot of low, dull and ever-present aches and sharp pains for no reason. And a lot of fog, too. Everything takes longer to do, I keep losing things. I’m having a hard time writing… I’ll freely admit that I almost made this another [Fail] post today. The only reason why it’s not is because I know how hard it is to get back on schedule after breaking it for a prolonged period.
I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to talk to anyone about how I’ve been feeling. Summer here means that everyone is away. Also, summer has a light spirit around these parts. Worries and cares are for the Fall and the Winter. Summer is for effervescence. The season is too short for depression. Drink fruity wine! Keep your schedule open for the impromptu gathering! Wear color and laugh loudly! There hasn’t been any room for this. I have had to make peace with the stowing away of feelings. These are the moments when existence in a place like this is at its loneliest. My job is to show up and be present for my two boys, this life the requires a lot to keep functioning, and keep smiling for all the people I encounter. Grace. Poise. Patience. My having a bad day doesn’t matter. My ability to function and perform does.
It’s hard to mourn in motion. It might not actually be possible. It could very well be that I’ve split myself in half, with parts of me stopping to mourn, to be… and the other half carrying it all. Slowly breaking down under the weight of it all. No matter what, nothing healthy is happening here. A memorial for Christopher has not yet been set, so there is shock, grief and anger, but not yet an opportunity to say goodbye. I’m waiting for the moment when I can buy my ticket to get to Baltimore or North Carolina, to hug my old friend, to shed tears with his mother, to sing hymns, pray and say goodbye.
So I don’t really have Quiet Thoughts tonight because my brain is so very tired. I’ve asked it to do a lot and it delivered, but the cost has been high. I have wondered if perhaps the week has felt so heavy because it’s only recently that I’ve felt like the weight of mourning Grandy has lifted off of me a bit. The grief, while there, has not been as deep. Now here I am again. My grief is different in many ways, but it has similarities to how I was feeling before. I’m so sorry to not have much wisdom for you this evening, Dear Reader. I suppose what I’ve learned this week is: there are events in this life that are unexpected. Unthinkable, even. And you will not react to them in the way you think you will. Some things you simply cannot drill for. Forgive yourself, Dear Reader, for all the things that you will do and what you will not be capable of doing. Remember to be kind to yourself. If you have the capacity to be kind to others, be sure you use that to also be kind to yourself.
It is a mild night in Massachusetts. Too warm for open windows. Too cool for the air conditioning. In the twilight, the bats have feasted on bugs of every shape and size, darting through the air in all directions. The sounds and smells of a summer not interested in yielding to the color season to come are at their apex, each exhalting in their moment of maximum strength and giving. The summer song is still being sung and it is still quite beautiful, even to exhausted ears on a Friday night after a week like this.
Dear Reader, it is Friday, so there must be wishes. I wish you, quite simply, the opportunity for you to be with someone you love this weekend. Be in the loving presence of someone who you hold dear. Relish the time with them. Be who you are, no games, no show… be your full and best self with your favorite person this weekend. Fill up your jar with rest and sharing and wonder, so you can wake up on Monday and make it through another week. That will be enough.
Until Monday, be kind and take care.