I would have predicted that yesterday would have been okay.
Most of the days have been okay, or okay-ish. I have been going to the gym, and I have been sort of talking to my friends and doing my work, and I have been… okay. I went to a bike rally thing, and I answered some of my email, and I have been knitting this pair of socks, and all they need is a heel. It’s an afterthought heel. All I have to do is snip a thread, pull out the stitches in half a row, pick them up and knit a heel. It’s easy.
Then yesterday morning, Joe left for a business trip. That’s cool. I mean, we have to have a real life – one where we go to work and earn money and pay bills and take care of the family, and Joe’s been so great at that. I’ve been sort of a mess, and Joe has given me the great gift of being steady. It’s such a good word for what he’s done over the last few weeks. He’s been steady. I’ve cried and cleaned things with a toothbrush and been as wild as a goat, and Joe has made sure that there has been food and orderly things and been so sweet to our kids – and they’ve been great too. I feel so bad calling them “the girls” or “the kids” because they’ve been so grown-up, and so beautiful, and so terrifically, fantastically sweet. Their amazing grandmother is gone, and I know they are all gutted, but there hasn’t been a word of that to me. I’ve tried to have room to feel for their loss, but I’m not sure I’ve been great at it. They have held me so lovingly, and turned to each other as friends and sisters, and not one of them has put their grief ahead of mine, and sometimes, as I cling to the life-raft that is everyone who loves me, I cannot believe how strong and beautiful they are.
Then yesterday morning, Joe got on a plane and left, and I was going to get up, and read email, and organize things and catch up with all of it and that’s not what happened. Instead, I got up and realized that usually when Joe’s out of town I hang with my mum, and I actually reached for the phone to call her and then some rogue grief train came out of the darkness with its goddamn lights blazing and I couldn’t get off the tracks fast enough and it hit me. Just like that.
I staggered through. I went to dinner with a friend and pretended everything was mostly fine. I spoke with my sister and somehow managed to hold her sadness in me and hear it and know it and not lose myself entirely while I said things that I hope helped. I called the tax people and found out how much our bill is, and when I have to pay it (turns out it’s last week) and I bought toilet paper and tried to figure out why the hose in the backyard that’s supposed to be on some auto-thingie that Joe set up isn’t working right and I texted a friend who didn’t text me back and called a friend who didn’t have any time, and the whole time I worked at being a grownup and punctuated it with wild private sobs, and inconvenient jags of crying during which I held that damn sock and tried to knit one stinking heel onto the thing.
I didn’t get it done. I didn’t manage a thing. The hose is still broken. The bill is unpaid. My bedroom closet is a disaster, and I realized that I am not sure that I am ready to be without my people, and still, here I am. It’s Tuesday. Joe’s gone for a few more days, and I’m getting on a plane before that, and I’m here by myself – and it’s so weird to be at loose ends, because usually I really like this – being alone and rattling around our house by myself, and I can’t tell you how embarrassed and surprised I am that this late into my forties I cannot cope without my mother, and dammit, I really just want to finish this sock.
It’s one stinking heel. I’m going to try again tonight.