It’s never the things that you think will make you cry that actually bring the tears. It’s always something stupid like broken plans, or a parking ticket. For the past month and a half, I have been carrying around a load of hurt so heavy that I feel like if I try to put it down, it will crush me. I don’t often cry these days; in fact I think I cry less than I did before. And when I do cry, it’s not about that heavy, heavy hurt. It’s about the disappointment of not being able to move into my new place early, or a stupid comment from a coworker. Once the tears start coming, though, it’s all about Dad, and it comes from somewhere so deep in my guts that it actually feels like it’s being yanked out of me.
This week, there’s been a little of mom, too. Tonight I was recounting to a friend one of my favorite memories of my mother. We were driving in her old black MG (red leather interior), and she had on a flowy head scarf and big sunglasses–the same ones she was wearing in the one picture I have of my parents happy together. We were on a dirt road in Edgartown, going to visit Jim Blaine, her boyfriend at the time, who lived out in the boonies and looked a lot like my dad. It was hot summer, and I was five or so and probably barefoot, and the radio was on loud playing Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” and my mom was singing along. I don’t know what we did after we got there, and I don’t think it much matters, because the drive itself was obviously more memorable.
I didn’t realize at first that Wednesday was my mother’s anniversary. I woke up that day in a funk, something more than what I’ve been feeling. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. My best friend was in a funk, too, and she couldn’t explain it either. We laid on the floor in her basement apartment and didn’t really talk to each other for an hour. Then we bought pets to cheer ourselves up, but it didn’t last long. I had hoped to hang out with another friend that evening, but they had other plans, and when I snapped my phone shut from reading the message, I burst into tears. The first four or five tears were probably about disappointment, but the rest were about, to quote an old poem, the empty spot that’s so big I should give it a name, and address, an area code. I should have my mail forwarded there.
The next morning I was having coffee with my sister, who it turned out had had an equally horrible Wednesday. At one point, she turned to me in the car and said, “You know what yesterday was, don’t you?” And then the heavy icky feeling and the sensitivity and the piles of tears made sense. On some subconscious level, I think I had known. And for the first time, I was feeling the loss of them both–at the same time.
I cried today, too. This time it started with a mild case of the cold shoulder, and ended with a crying jag in my best friend’s shop that lasted half an hour and somehow ended with me designing a T-shirt in memory of my father and laughing about how funny he would have found it. After I let the big guns out, I didn’t care so much about the brushoff anymore. It was like I’d somehow been recalibrated. I almost wanted to thank the offender for helping me to cry. I’m tempted to contract people to hurt my feelings in some small way once a day, so I can get this heavy hurt off my back faster.
I haven’t felt like myself the past few days. I’ve felt completely uncomfortable in my body, and in my life. Not unhappy with either, just uncomfortable, like shoes that haven’t been broken in yet. I need to break in my new life. I need to take pictures with my new camera and cook dinner in my new apartment, and bring home the first paycheck from one of my two new jobs. I need to remind myself that if something won’t matter a week from now, it’s probably not worth getting upset about now. I need to speak at my father’s memorial service if I can hold it together long enough, and I need to go through his closet and find an old sweatshirt that I can wear when I’m down and keep until it falls apart from wear. I need to start believing that he’s gone. And I need to cry about it.