“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
At the beginning of the month, I lost one of my best friends. We were both in bad spaces at the time but I, unlike him, had a hard time sheltering him from the cloud of negativity that I had wrapped around me like a shroud. Instead of fighting with me, he chose to walk away.
I was distraught. I felt like shit.
Turned out it was just the preamble. The foreshock before the big quake.
In the middle of the month, on October 18th, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law were driving home after shopping for my brother-in-law’s stepdaughter’s baby shower. As they crossed an intersection in a quiet neighborhood around 10 o’clock at night, a car going entirely too fast crashed into the passenger side of that little beige Saturn, killing both of them.
My husband’s kid (and only) brother and the mother he adored, just gone.
Of course he had to go back to America to help his dad through this because now it is just them. And so there was yet another loss. He’s supposed to be gone for a month or two, leaving me to work and take care of the kids solo. I don’t mind that but it is hard for the kids. To hear about the loss of their grandmother and uncle then to essentially lose their father, albeit temporarily.
And then yesterday, an aftershock.
My husband wrote to say that his grandmother died. His father’s mother. Three family members within a week. It’s ridiculous. October is showing off its muscles.
I am at a loss for words at this point but I must push myself to write it all down, my way of taking a good look. Being the one who must keep the normalcy train on track, I feel petty when I tell my husband about our daily lives. Like making bento boxes and preparing for the kindergarten Halloween party. I’m sure he appreciates the distraction but it is starting to feel like we are on different realms, that he has descended a level or two in Dante’s Inferno while I am still skipping around with the kids up here, picking daisies.
Death and loss is part of life; decay can create fertile soil for growth. I know this. Yet I wish that October had not dealt these cards so rapidly, so brutally efficient. But my wish comes too late. All I can do is what is before me, trying to make a winning hand even though I have a straight of jokers. Because what would the dead want for us but for us to live and to live knowing that one day we won’t.
“We are not idealized wild things.
We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking