Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

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

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas Eve Eve

Last Monday, the Monday that started smacking me around at 6:58am, only offered a reprieve during the workday. Then it got mean again.

I spent most of the day trying to reach Brooke via cell phone to let her know where I parked the car and to find out when she planned to be done with work. She had indicated to me earlier in the day that she would work late if they were willing to take her. Enjoying money as I do, I had no problem with this. I just wanted to know what to expect. I called her once when I got into work, once around lunch, and once around 4pm. She was due to be done at 4, and I was surprised I hadn’t heard from her. I stuck around at work, thinking how silly it would be for both of us to try to get the car, not show up simultaneously, and then not be able to reach the other person. So very silly.

I called again around 6. It was dark, and the temperature was dropping a few degrees every hour. One of us was going to have to bus to the car, and it might as well be me. At 6:20, I called one last time to say I was leaving, and I headed out to catch the 6:27 bus. As I approached the bus stop, I watched the end of a bus go around the corner. I couldn’t read the sign on it, so I just crossed my fingers that it was a different bus. There are many, many buses at that corner. Later on, I hear the bell tower chime 45 minutes past the hour. Yes, I had missed it.

That made three buses missed that day. I’m brilliant, I tell you.

I climbed on the bus that came by at 6:57. Thanks to Brooke’s bonking into me earlier in the day, my hatlessness, and the need to stand in the wind for half an hour, I was migrainey. The bus route has changed in the last three years since I rode on it with any regularity. Now, it pulls into a different commuter lot first. The commuter lot where I had parked is so big that there are three (3!) bus stops inside it. At the time, I had no idea how many stops there were within the lot, and the windows of the bus were so dirty that I couldn’t see much of anything out of them, so I gambled and got off at one unfamiliar stop that gave off good Corolla vibes. I was right.

That was actually the first thing that had gone right that day.

I was icy cold from standing outside for half an hour, and I had to brush off the car. I headed home, stepped over the horizontal, bailed Christmas tree, and piled myself and my belongings into the house. It was warm. I turned on the heat. It was warmer.

It was now 7:30, and Brooke had not called home or my voicemail at work. I called the cell again. I told the voicemail that I was going to lie down. I lied. I read the paper and called her again at 8:30, at this point totally convinced that she was frozen and bloody in a gutter somewhere near the mall. The main story in the paper was about an unsolved murder—unsolved because they hadn’t found the body.

I called at 8:45. It rang and went to voicemail. I called at 8:46. Same thing. At 8:47, someone picked up, and I heard men laughing and talking in the background. One mentioned Brooke’s favorite thing ever: ice cream. I yelled, “HELLO?!” into the phone. It disconnected.

At this point, I couldn’t decide whether to burst into tears or shit my pants. I tried back immediately, and the voicemail picked up right away. The same thing happened a second time. On my third call, Brooke answered. She was sheepish. “I’m done. Can you pick me up?” In my PJs, I picked her up.

The only other point of note of the evening is that when we had snuggled into bed with Muggle lying at Brooke’s feet, we heard a hacking, coughing sound coming from the kitchen. Quid had barfed. Muggle saw this as a fantastic opportunity to have a snack and dove off the bed. I got up, kicked (gently, of course) Muggle away from the pile, and cleaned it up. Minutes later, Quid came into the bedroom and started digging at the window. The condensation made his paws squeak against the glass, and he enjoyed this. He would not stop, even despite threats of having his optically impaired mommies chuck things across the room at him.

The cats have new nicknames, now:
Quid = Neurotic Hamster Cat, thanks to his relentless and frantic pawing at the glass
Muggle = Vomit-Eating Weasle Kitty, which doesn’t need an explanation


At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you love it when spouses disappear into the ether for no good reason and leave you worried and frantic while they don't understand what the problem is? Tom did that ONCE. Never again. You're probably nicer than I am, so Brooke is a lucky woman.

Oz loves to paw glass or any kind of slick paper. A catalog you are in the act of perusing is a top choice.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Emilin said...

I don't know that I'm nicer than you. More tired at that moment, probably. It was easier to inundate her with guilt ("Oh, baby, I can't tell you how horribly scared I was.") than to rip her a new one. I considered the latter, but the former worked very, very well.

At 12:33 AM, Blogger jon said...

After we paid for our kids northeast summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!


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