This morning, I bounded in to our bedroom and told Daniel, “I just figured it out. It's not that I don't grieve, it's that I grieve in metaphors!”
Daniel, having been asleep when I bounded in, responded with “Slrph?”
I chose to take this as encouragement to continue.
“Like how this summer, with the calendar thing?...”
Quick backstory on the calendar thing. I am a freakishly punctual person. There are things I do badly, but being where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there is one of my weird gifts. Well, it was, until the past few months. As D-Day approached, at least once a week I’d forget to be someplace, or I’d put something in the calendar on the wrong day, or I’d hear we needed to be at the ferry to Catalina at 8:15am and carefully write down 8:45am, assuring we missed the boat.
For the sake of his blood pressure, Daniel and I have agreed to not utter the word “Catalina” for at least eight months.
“So,” I continue, sitting on the bed and prodding at Daniel’s foot. “It’s completely obvious that was my brain’s way of trying to forget the passing of time, that with each day we were getting closer to sending the kid off. Because, honestly, when she comes back, she’s back for, like, a few weeks and then she’s off to college. We’re done, right? Who wouldn’t want to forget a boat ride over that?”
“Sorry. You’re right. Still too soon. But this morning I’m putting on leggings to go walk and they’re hers and it occurs to me! It’s so obvious!”
I waited for him to ask for details. He appeared to be sliding back to sleep. I poked his shin in what I hoped was a convivial way. He pulled the covers over his head.
“Stop whining, you’re fine. Since you asked, why am I wearing her leggings! It’s like those nomadic people in that documentary!”
“You know! From…Russia! Or Peru. Somewhere nomadic. Anyway, anthropologists discovered toothmarks on the skeletons of children and they theorize the mothers would cannibalize their children who died because since they were nomadic, there was no grave to visit. Eating a bit of your child was a way of keeping them nearby! These aren’t leggings, they’re a symbol of loss and connection!”
I waited expectantly.
The silence deepened.
I poked Daniel’s shin.
“Stop that!” the quilt ordered.
“What do you think?”
Daniel lifted his head slightly and squinted at the clock.
“I think I don’t have to get up for an hour,” he said.
“That’s true,” I agreed, “But the idea felt important.”
“Guessing you found the matcha tea again.”
“I wish you’d stop hiding it.”
“I hide it because of mornings like this,” he sighed, gazing lovingly at his pillow.
“Oh, hush,” I snapped, “Now, my idea. What do you think?”
“Candidly, I think eating your daughter’s workout leggings is weird. Now, go away,” Daniel said, flopping back down again.
I learned two things today:
1. The matcha tea was in the glove compartment,
2. I need something to do, and quickly.
Yesterday’s exercise class bought me 24 hours. I have things to do in a week. Between now and then, I have writing assignments, my own projects, and this diary, but those are going to keep me in the house, drinking green tea and having great thoughts which apparently might include cannibalism. I hate the phrase “Keeping busy,” for all of its little meaningless projects to hold off the whiff of the grave intimations, but it must be said.
I have to keep busy.
And Daniel has got to find a better place to hide the tea.