Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Fun with household chores

I dragged Brooke with me this time. At the last minute, I asked her to reschedule her allergy shot and come with me. My train ticket was refunded, and we packed the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix audiobook that a friend sent. My parents had planned to pick me up on the way home from my grandmother’s, but they ended up stopping by, helping with the task of installing a coat rack by the back door, and driving back ahead of us. Fortunately, she had very little packing to do, as I’m keeping a supply of clothes and cosmetics—including a toothbrush for her and a contact lens case—at their house. This time, we both grabbed bathing suits for stewing in the whirlpool at the Y.

I brought her with me for a few reasons, the most obvious of which being that I barely saw her over the last four days that I had been home. Another reason is that it’s just easier when there are two of us there. She’s able to read and relax and be Mom’s companion while I fuss about the house neurotically. She helps with cooking and shopping, and I feel less of an obligation to be with Mom in her waking hours.

A huge part of it, though, is the fight we had Sunday morning. We bickered about going to church versus cleaning, whether we had time for both, and whose job was it to clean. That last part was actually an undertone rather than an explicit part of the conversation. We both scrapped church for cleaning, and we both went around the house like worker ants tidying, scrubbing, sorting, and cleaning: three loads of laundry, two loads of dishes, every room organized in to some semblance of order (including the guest room!), vacuuming, and dusting. I also finally discovered what the strange panel in the mantel was, but you don’t need to know that. While we cleaned, we argued. I’m not sure how the situation arose—although thinking on it now, it may have had something to do with fuses—but we had quite a row, and while stomping up the basement stairs, I may have told her to go fuck herself.

Here’s the thing: I’m being pulled in three distinct directions, and Saturday, I was finally released from a fourth. It’s enough to be pulled in the typical work and home directions, but work and home and Mom are overwhelming. Not everyone will get the attention they want, but I’m doing everything I can to keep everything above water. I’ve failed Brooke pretty miserably in the last couple of weeks, so she came with me to be with me but also to help. Her help at my folks’ means more time for my own work while I’m there.

By the way, none of those directions include time for myself. I did curl up in the bedroom by myself yesterday morning, but that was only for twenty minutes, and I did it so I wouldn’t tell Brooke to fuck off more than once in a day. I’m trying to take snippets of time out of each day to enjoy myself, but it’s not always possible. When I’m alone here, I spend at least an hour every night decompressing by myself. That hour means one lost hour of sleep. Other times, it’s a matter of taking an extra minute when I go to the bathroom just to be by myself, but that doesn’t work with someone waiting for my help or something going on the stove.


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