Mother’s Day

Bittersweet day.  A very difficult day for the family.  For my sister-in-law, it is loving the children that are here, but mourning the one that she lost.  For me, it was acknowledging how big of a part my husband played in making Mother’s Day an ‘event’.  This year it seemed as though the two of us hit the crazy zone at the same time and were absolute nut cases going into Mother’s Day.

I know I was a little crazed.  I didn’t really even want to celebrate the day.  I went to bed the night before thinking about how hard it must be for many people, not just for me.  For those women who had lost children, women who never had children, women and men who never knew their mothers, or who had and had never liked them, for those who suffer or suffered abuse at the hands of their mothers.  This ‘one size’ day of celebration could be a nightmare for many.  Fortunately I woke up to the smell of eggs benedict and sausage cooking, an effective way to banish such thoughts!

Through the years Mother’s Day has typically been an awesome day for me.  Because I had my children and their father to make it special.  With Kevin gone it has lost a lot of its lustre, it carries a tinge of sadness that it shouldn’t. Now, what I hope is that my children, each with their own spouses, will make each and every day special for them, for their partners and their children.  Look to their future, love what they have.  I loved what I had and I am thankful that I had it.  But now for me, as to Mother’s Day as an event, meh, I can do without it.

A Question or Two

It’s odd how few people feel comfortable asking the things they really want to ask.  It takes a brave person to do so.  I mean, how often have you been in conversation with someone and in the back of your mind you have a question you would so love to ask, but you know it would likely be overstepping the bounds of good taste, privacy, or appropriateness, and so the question goes unspoken.

Interestingly, last week I had a conversation with a woman who dropped the pretence and asked me some of those questions.  It caught me off guard, but nevertheless, I answered her as best I could.  By way of background, she is married, does have children, and whether her marriage is ideal or not, I don’t know – I don’t  know her well enough.  Maybe that’s why she could ask me those questions.

She asked, “What do you miss the most?”  I answered, “A number of things, intimacy will always be high on the list, but there are so many other things.  Having a warm body to snuggle into when I am cold, exchanging a knowing glance about someone or something absurd, the warmth and banter of debate and discussion, silent companionship, having a reason to rush home … so many things.”

She asked, “What do you find the hardest.”  I answered, “Simply adjusting.  Sounds like a cop out but it’s not.  The adjusting never seems to stop.  I had to adjust to living alone, to living on less, to looking after everything – and I still am.  It all takes effort, and it gets tiring having to work at things especially when you don’t have the energy or inclination to do it.  The hardest thing for me has been adjusting: physically, mentally, emotionally.”

She asked, “Don’t you find it less stressful only having to worry about yourself?”  I answered, “It’s not that simple. I still worry about my family and friends.  I especially worry about my family; because I have had such an intense loss, it feels like at any time someone else could be wrenched from my life.  That sense of grief is indescribable, and as close to unbearable as anything I’ve ever faced.  So I do still worry.  Is it less stressful being on my own?  Sure, in some ways.  I don’t have to factor in another person’s views, needs, feelings, calendar.  It’s just about me, so that’s easier for sure, but I don’t consider this a glamorous or desirable state, because I didn’t ever want to be here.”

She asked, “Would you ever join a dating site?”  I answered, “If you are asking –  have I joined one, then the answer is no.  And, for the future, I can’t see me joining one.  Right now I’m not looking for a relationship, and I have plenty to keep me busy.  I’ve heard so many stories, and from people I know, about the predators on those sites, chatting you up and then asking for cash.  It just isn’t worth it for me.  I know that there are some good, strong relationships that can come out of them and so they serve a purpose for some, but just not for me.”

She asked a few more questions but the conversation ended pretty soon after with me gently admonishing her.  “The grass isn’t always greener – just like the saying goes.  I bet your life is a little chaotic right now and by comparison mine looks pretty good.  But trust me, I’d give so very, very much to have that chaos back.  Don’t wish your time and love away.”

And I didn’t cry once through the whole conversation.

Again

So it has come and gone again.  The anniversary of Kevin’s death.  Year two in the books.  Not easier at all.  I don’t know if it was harder, but I do know it wasn’t easier.  This year Easter fell similar to the year he died.  Kevin died on the Sunday before Easter.  I pushed to have the funeral on the Thursday before Good Friday.  Deliberately so it wouldn’t wreck anyone’s long weekend plans.  It likely/probably did, but at least they didn’t have to go to a funeral on one of their days off.

This year, just the way it fell, I found it hard going into the weekend.  And it wasn’t just me, his sister, my kids, we all felt it.  The memories sit in your heart and hurt with each beat.  But more than ever I realize that this is it, what I have now is on me, and I need to appreciate what I have.  This is what Kevin fought for, why he went through chemo, what he was so desperately trying to hold on to.  Life: to watch his grandkids grow up, to enjoy his family and friends, to explore, create, attempt new things.  To see and to be; to wring every bit of enjoyment out of every single day.  It’s all right there for anyone who wants it.

So, I just have to figure out how to want it.  So far I am not applying myself very well.

 

One foot in the present, one foot in the past

I think about the challenge it is to have a long term relationship end.  In my case it was my husband’s death, for others it may be divorce.  But loss is loss, and who’s to say how it should be, what one should feel, how one will cope. The thing is managing the memories.  Memories that weave through families: in children, in places, in events.  They are invisible, those ties, strands of emotion that can tangle you up before you know it.

I was worried after Kevin died that I would forget.  Forget the times we shared, the life we led, his voice, his laugh, his presence.  I realize now that I will never forget.  The ties are just too strong.  I’ve mentioned before that I hear him in my head, and I do.  Sometimes not loud enough, sometimes too loud.  Just like in life.  Last night I had a dream and I woke up knowing he had told me to do something.  But I couldn’t remember what it was he told me to do. If it was important then I suspect that he’ll be back to remind me tonight. I’d  better put paper and pen beside the bed because I don’t want to piss him off by forgetting again!  (It’s humour folks, I’m not losing it.)

These next couple of weeks will be tough ones.  Our anniversary on the 24th, his death on the 29th.  I find myself flashing back and forth between the present and the past.  Unavoidably.  I never would have ever thought he would have been my past, that wasn’t the deal, and yet now he is.  But he is still my future, because life with him made me who I am, because I will always know how he thought and what he felt.  Because the lives he and I created together continue to grow, more grandbabies – twins.  Because he would have loved that.  So I send you my love Kevin, and I say: ‘How I wish, how I wish you were here….’

My Conundrum

So I find myself in a bit of a pickle.  It’s work-related and difficult for me to sort out.  There was an episode at my workplace that went sideways on me this week.  It wasn’t the work itself, it was the interactions between people.  It involved an unexpected nastiness and a peek at some rather unattractive behaviours.

Things like this have become a challenge for me because I don’t have Kevin to chat them through with.  He had an amazing way of cutting through the garbage and hitting on the truth.  Without him I have to do it myself and, needless to say, I get myself all twisted out of sorts because it’s my perspective and only my perspective that I bring to the situation.

I work for a large organization and change is a constant.  Managers come and go; we have a lot of retirements as the baby-boomers move into retirement.  So there is opportunity and that can be a good thing – but only when it is equal opportunity.  In my home section it really isn’t.

It has been apparent for some time that the section manager had a favourite and that favourite was untouchable.  Training opportunities were directed towards the favourite, and when questioned (which I did on one occasion only) the manager aggressively defended the choice, stating it was management’s choice.  The discussion became so heated as I reacted to being yelled at that I actually thought I was going to be written up.  And it hasn’t only been me in situations like this, my coworkers have experienced this too.

Its more than that though, it’s the blind devotion that is given to the favourite.  Our manager constantly tells all of us, peers of the favourite, what a natural leader, what an incredibly articulate and intelligent individual the favourite is.  They meet every morning for coffee in the manager’s office, of course anyone can join, but not really.  I remember sitting at a table in the cafeteria with them quite innocently one day – I recall the the furtive looks as I sat down, the stalled conversation, the sheer uncomfortableness I brought to the table.  They made it abundantly clear that I was not part of the A-team.  I stayed a few minutes to spite them, and when I got up to leave no one insisted I stay.  If Kevin were alive he would have told me I was on the C-team, “see you later”.

Recently, I applied to a temporary job opportunity elsewhere in the organization and was allowed to go, so off I went – as of last week.  I was pleased to have the permission and support of my manager and the entire management team, as well as the chance to enhance my work skills.  My new job intersects with my old job in some respects, so there is great continuity.  Around the same time as I was informed I got the new job and before I left my old one, we (my work department) was informed that the section manager in my home department was also leaving for a temporary assignment.  We were informed that the favourite would be taking over the section manager’s role.

So here’s the problem – not even the first week into the job and the favourite, acting as the manager, messes up.  Unfortunately it involves the new department I have moved to (remember our work intersects – what luck).  Things escalated way past my pay grade, because of a bonehead email the favourite sent and which I had no part of.  Rather than say, ‘sorry, I messed up’, the favourite engages the former manager to ‘sort’ things out with me – implying I caused the trouble.  They both seek me out and blindside me in a hallway.   Not only does the former manager have a little talk with me, all under the guise of smoothing things over, but as we move out of the ‘sorting out’ conversation, the former manager also tells me that we need to finalize my annual performance appraisal.  This is done in front of the favourite who stands silently by.

I processed things politely but I did recognize the veiled threat.  How disappointing.  How stupid.  Mentioning the performance appraisal as part of that discussion, especially considering we were dealing with a ‘situation’, was completely inappropriate.  It had to be a deliberate statement designed to intimidate me.  The delivery was beautiful too, leaning in towards me, fixing me with an unwavering piercing gaze, hoping that I break the connection, blink or maybe even break out in hives (I don’t know!!!) but sheesh, I get tired of that stuff.  Anyway, how does one go from ‘I’m pissed with you, my favourite looks bad because of you, let’s make this go away,’ to ‘Oh yes, we have this admin piece to finish’, all in one conversation?  It’s not a natural segue, therefore, it was deliberate and with intention.

If Kevin were around he’d likely have a different spin on this: he’d either tell me to take the high road or that you can’t make stupid smart.  He’d have had me laughing at some ridiculous aspect of the whole scenario.  Instead here I am twisting on this.  God I miss him.