August 23, 2016

Good day, bad night

Bad night, good day

Lex and Rupert

How I long for a 24 hour period of good. I guess I should be grateful for what I have, which is so different than it was just a few short weeks ago when good didn’t even appear on the horizon. This afternoon was so hard, being out in the real world, shopping with my 14 year old daughter for her first year of boarding school. She thought she could go to upstate Connecticut with just some t-shirts and shorts. She now has a couple of sweaters and a waterproof backpack. It’s a good start.

We had a really bad experience about a month ago, when my two daughters spent 90 minutes at Target getting ready for camp. I had a full on anxiety attack with no medicine on me. I left them to finish their shopping while I sat in the food court, trying to breath. My only distraction was watching a young homeless crew deal with a strung out girl. By the time we paid and got into the car, I was crying and having a hard time breathing. I was able to calm myself enough to drive home, passing the brown field of dry grass with the pretty trees where Rupert crashed his motorcycle and died. I felt so badly for my children in that moment. Mom’s boyfriend had died, and she was losing her shit.

I had better skills this time. I was able to tell my daughter that I wasn’t going to last long at the mall. I told her to be prepared for me to drop the ax and pull her out of a store to head home at a moment’s notice. Which I ended up doing, but I managed to pay for what she’d selected before walking out. Back in the fresh air, I was able to relax. She suggested Starbucks, which I had already been thinking about because its the only way to get parking validated. Once back in the car driving home, with a half a protein bar and some coffee in me, I started to feel better. I thought about the addiction recovery mantra HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you are one of those, don’t make a decision. It applies to grief as well. Any one of those four things will cause me to spiral into a deep wave of grief. The calories and caffeine lifted me back up, and we were able to make one more back to school shopping stop on the way home.

“You certainly perked up,” my daughter said.

“Yes, I do feel better, thank you for noticing.”

“Do you do this every day? This up and down?”she asked.

“I do. His death is the first thing on my mind in the morning, and it is the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. Every day is different, but every day I am riding the roller coaster.”

“You are so strong, Mom, I don’t know how you do it.”

“I don’t feel that strong, honey. It is what I am going through right now. I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

She reached for my hand while silent tears slid down my cheeks.

It was a lovely  conversation between a grieving mother and her teenage daughter. I can’t believe it was us. I can’t believe this is the reality of our lives now. I don’t think she realized that she loved him, and I don’t realize she thought about his effect on us while he was here. The other day, she said, “The house just seemed warmer whenever he was here.”

My thoughts tonight, after she’s in bed, after having dinner with a few loving and caring friends, are foreign. They are new, and I don’t know what to do with them except write them down and examine them. I knew Rupert through Alexius, or Lex as we called him, who became suddenly terminally ill while I was pregnant with Alexa. “If you are gone when my daughter is born, I will name her after you.” He died two weeks later. That was eleven years ago, and though I think of him nearly every day, I have come to peace with his death. I had my time with Alexius, he was my brother from another mother, my role model, my friend. I cherish the time we had together, and I hold his lessons close. I will forever hold him in my heart, and I accept that he is gone.

Tonight, somehow, I am right there with Rupert. RIGHT THERE. I am so glad he was in my life, I am so glad I got to love him and have his love. It is amazing that he came back into my life two years ago, and we were able to create love magic together just before his death. We thought it was forever, but there is no such thing. He never expected to grow old. He and his brother had a pact to live to 63. His parents both died of cancer at the same age but several years apart, long since divorced and remarried. Right now, in this moment, I am able to cherish the time I had with Rupert and know that it is behind me. It is over, but I will forever hold him in my heart, and I accept that he is gone.

Is this where I will be in eleven years? Because right now it feels ever so fleeting.

Yet again, one more good night that follows a bad day, just like the bad nights that follow the good days, I find myself holding on to a feeling of peace, wishing it would stay, all the while knowing this roller coaster has more curves, steep inclines, and sharp drops ahead.

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