Sad. With a side of busy.

Dear friends,

sadapple

In every year of my work life, there are two weeks so busy that all others pale in comparison. One is in April and one is this week. It’s one of those weeks where my assistant prepares a two-inch binder with 20 tabs and dozens of sheets filled with details about the meetings, appointments, dinners, and other special events I will either attend or preside over.

Had I not fallen prey to a bug of some sort and stayed home several hours on Monday and Tuesday, this week would have easily topped 70 hours. As it is, I probably won’t surpass 60, which I suppose is a blessing all things considered.

So that — in part — is why you haven’t heard from me for a few days.

I’ve also been sad . . . which combined with busy tends to result in “lights out” on this page.

Saturday is my mother’s birthday. It also happens to be my 22nd anniversary, and when it finally occurred to me a week ago that the date was rapidly approaching, instead of thinking about ways to express my continuing affection to Mr. Mom, I thought about how much I miss my mother. I was trying to prepare for a dinner party, but instead I sat on my bed and cried.

I can’t believe she’s been gone three years. I can’t believe I still cry when the magnitude of her absence hits me at weird moments. I’ve always thought it is important to honor the grief, though, so I took a break from cooking and spent a half hour in solitude thinking, in part, how much Mom would have liked my menu and thought my dinner party kicked butt.

By the way, in case I never told you the story . . . on our wedding day Mr. Mom and I pretended we forgot my mother’s 62nd birthday. We had breakfast with her and she spent most of the day helping me decorate our reception hall, but I never said a word. At the reception — after we cut the cake — I stepped forward to speak, intending to tell everyone it was my mother’s birthday and to deliver a loving tribute. Instead, I dissolved into tears and Mr. Mom had to speak for me. After we sang Happy Birthday to her, I gave her a surprise gift: a mother’s ring made by the same childhood friend who made my wedding band. A few years later Mom told me it was the best birthday of her life.

I remember that on the days I miss her. On the days I think I didn’t bring enough light and love into her life, I remember that day and it helps.

Then on top of my run-of-the-mill sadness, I learned on Monday that one of Kate’s friends from back home died after an extended illness. Ashley was a beautiful and radiant 20-year-old woman and her loss has left my hometown — and my daughter — reeling. The funeral is today and Kate will be there but I won’t (what with all the events in the two-inch binder with 20 tabs).

I know a little something about Ashley’s parents’ pain after watching my mother lose an adult son. Still, in spite of everything I think I know about grief and heartache, I find myself with few words of understanding or comfort because losing a child at the cusp of adulthood seems to me a grievous and unbearable loss.

I know. Losing a child anytime is a grievous and unbearable loss. Maybe this feels especially acute because I have two children who are on the cusp of adulthood. Two children who were friends with the girl who departed her promising and sparkling life so very early and who remind me how precious and fragile every loved one is, whether 18 or 80.

So I’m sad. With a side of busy.

All things considered, I’d rather be sad, because it reminds me to snap out of busy, which is just another way to describe an auto-pilot life where insufficient attention is paid to what are often inconvenient but urgent matters of the heart.

With gratitude {for emotions that remind me I’m human and I’m living a magnificent and messy and beautiful and brutal and ephemeral life},

Joan, who really wishes she could hold Kate’s hand today and will be so very glad to give her a big hug when she arrives home late tonight for Fall Break

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Comments

  1. IrishJenn says:

    Sending you thoughts of love and light and peace.

  2. Every death of a beloved one leaves a hole in the heart and those holes have a way of opening up and aching unexpectedly, even when we are pretty sure we’ve filled them in with work or time or things or socializing or busy-ness. I try to recall, when one of my holes has opened up for a little pain to flow (out? in? never sure…) that the loss is only there because of the love that preceded it. Love that doesn’t end even when the physical housing has departed.

    Wish I could give you a hug and a shoulder but know you and your CupKate will take care of that tonight. Here’s looking forward to a restorative break in your action.

  3. Joan, I find myself so wanting to protect you from grief and yet I know there is no way. So, I will focus on sharing with you some of the same feelings for our mothers and the sadness I have for Ashley’s family and friends. You expressed it so well.

  4. That was a lovely post, Joan-Marie. Good luck with your 20-tab, two-inch binder rest of the week.

  5. That was beautiful, Joan. I know exactly what you mean about grief overwhelming us at random and unexpected times. Mom has been gone a little over a year and I was sad at every one of those “firsts” without her…Thanksgiving, Christmas, my 50th birthday and wedding day, her and Dad’s anniversary, her birthday, the day she passed away and the day of her funeral. After all of those, last week, I thought, “ok, back to busy,” and then Saturday morning woke up inexplicably in tears. I missed her so terribly and felt so guilty for not making more time to make her life as wonderful as she made mine.

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