Fighting the urge to run away, should I go or should I stay….. (Part 2)

I decided to go ahead and jump off the wire last Friday (the 14th) and run away. I didn’t go far and I wasn’t gone long, but I left none the less. I drove up the mountain to see Daddy for his birthday. I took him some daffodils from my yard. He loved flowers as long as you didn’t waste money paying a florist for them.

I was still undecided when I got up that morning whether or not to even go. I hadn’t left Randy alone since his shoulder surgery and was still doing pretty much everything for him, but the girls didn’t have any plans and promised to check on him regularly and fix him lunch and get his meds when needed and just hang out in general in case he needed anything. He’s not an invalid by any means, but three shoulder surgeries in 15 months has really taken its toll. It would have broken a lesser man, but he’s hanging in there. Hopefully this last one has done the job.

I grabbed the camera and my daffodils and headed out late morning for the 90 minute drive up into the blue ridge mountains to hang out with Daddy and just BREATH for the afternoon. I didn’t need to balance on the high wire today, I could make this trip in my sleep. And Daddy’s car, that I’d been driving since August when I followed the ambulance to the hospital that last time, could probably make that trip by itself. I’m so grateful my sisters let me keep that car. Daddy and I spent a LOT of time together in it. I can still smell his cigar smoke embedded in the grey upholstery. It’s getting fainter now after 7 months. It makes me sad to think of the day it won’t smell like his cigars any more.

Christmas trees as far as the eye can see. Santa would be proud.

Christmas trees as far as the eye can see. Santa would be proud.

It’s a beautiful, peaceful, (almost) healing drive. It’s a trip I’ve made since I was a little girl. Done to the point I had become blind to the beauty of it, taken it for granted. Today I breathed in the air like it was my last breath on earth. Breathed in the crisp, cool, piney air till I thought my lungs would burst.

imageI got out of the car and was immediately struck by the absolute quiet and wondered if coming alone was such a good idea. But it’s what I wanted, no, NEEDED, to do. Everything is definitely greener since I was here in December. Or at least starting to be. One of the disadvantages of the older “family” cemeteries is there is no perpetual care. Someone keeps the grass cut in the summer, but that’s about it. I took away the dead poinsettia pots and the little Christmas tree I had taken up in December and brushed all the dead leaves off his stone. At least the snow was gone.

"Greatly loved, sadly missed" truer words were never spoken. Thank you Carol, for having the presence of mind to design such a beautiful stone. XO

“Greatly loved, sadly missed” truer words were never spoken. Thank you Carol, for having the presence of mind to design such a beautiful stone. XO

He’s in good company, it really is a beautiful place. The neighborhood is quiet. He has a gorgeous 360 view of the blue ridge mountains. His neighbors mind their own business and stay to themselves. The silence is deafening. You can see the road below but it’s far enough away so there is no noise from from the what little traffic there is. Cell service doesn’t exist up here so there is zero danger of mine going off. So ya, the silence is quite erie, but fitting I guess.

After sitting on the ground for a while next to his stone I decided to explore the neighborhood. So many families with so many stories and so much grief. I hope it wasn’t disrespectful to check out Daddy’s new neighborhood. I was very careful to watch where I walked. I cried less this time, we caught up on everything that’s been going on. I miss talking to him soooo much.

I wonder if Led Zeppelin saw this……

Love!

Something about this visit was different. Instead of being distraught and anxious, I was so at peace and calm. Gone was the high wire and balance pole (for the moment anyway) and I stood with my feet planted firmly on the ground. Was it because of my surroundings or in spite of them?

Before I lost all my light I headed down the mountain. I had already stayed longer than I’d planned and I hate driving after dark. But I love being alone in the car to think, so one more monster coffee and I was on my way.

So I drove….and I thought….and I stopped occasionally to snap a picture. I remembered how many times Daddy told me to take my nose out of the book I was reading in the back seat and pay attention. It used to drive me crazy. Now I wish for just ONE MORE trip up that mountain with him. JUST ONE MORE.

It has taken me almost two weeks to get this written and posted and there has been a shift in my high wire act since I’ve been to see Daddy. I still climb that ridiculously high ladder every morning when I wake up, and tip toe out onto the wire and wait for the wind to blow. Bad news from a doctor….gust, gust, blow, blow….balance and smile. No money for the power bill……gust, swirl, gust….balance and smile. Crying littles combined with a blinding migraine and no sleep………gust, gust, gust, GUST….BALANCE DAMNIT and DON’T FORGET TO FREAKIN’ SMILE! And I do. But either I am getting used to this high wire gig or Daddy is helping me find my peace. Maybe the wire is inching closer to the ground. Maybe I see the ever so thin spider web of net forming below me. Maybe I’m just not afraid to fall. Who knows. But whatever it is, I’m not quite as afraid to wake up in the morning, and for now, that’s all that matters. Miss you Daddy xo

Peace

Fighting the urge to run away, should I go or should I stay….. (part 1)

There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies, “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”, where the heroine/villain (depending on the scene) has a very quiet inner breakdown. She gets up one morning, gets in her car and drives away from her home and four small children (thank god she had a nanny), goes to the beach and gets a hotel room and smokes, drinks and sleeps for days. When she comes to, she calls room service and inquires what day it is, asks for coffee and goes home.

Can I get a ticket for that ride please? Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but close. All week my high wire act has been more precarious than usual. The air up here is so thin. It’s like all the oxygen is slowly being sucked from the room as I got closer to Daddy’s birthday and I can’t breath. On the outside I give all the right answers, perform all required tasks, held that balance pole at just the right angle to keep my feet not-so-firmly planted on the wire, but boy did that wind blow. This high wire act is exhausting.

I’ve had seven months worth of holidays, why is this birthday thing so freakin hard? Maybe because it was HIS day. A day to celebrate just him. Last year when I made his cake it had a little wind up toy train on it circling the second layer. He thought that was the funniest thing and of course he loved all things Train. And he made me feel like I could do anything.

I put his watch on every morning and miss him when I check the time. I shuffle through the house in his over-sized Daddy slippers and I miss him. I drive his car to town and wish I was still riding shotgun instead of being behind the wheel and I miss him. I wonder what kind of cake I would have dreamed up this year and I miss him.

I’m not sure what good running away would do. Where would I run? Maybe just for an hour or two….jump off the high wire. Is that allowed? Who has the rule book…I need to consult.

Happy Birthday Daddy….. I miss you.

To be continued…..

 

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Where’s a Flying Wallenda when you need one?

20140307-112837.jpg Years ago my daughter and I were in Charleston for a long weekend as a getaway after she graduated high school. Without realizing it, we had gone during the Spoleto festival. Every spring Spoleto transforms Charleston into an amazing performing arts arena with every square inch covered with artists of every genre. It’s an amazing sight.
We left the hotel early that morning and had been walking for hours when we both started to tire in the afternoon heat of a Charleston June day. I spotted a large tent set up in a vacant lot off one of the side streets and we decided to duck inside.
It was cool and dim and smelled like damp hay. The show had already started so we slipped quietly into the bleacher seats and waited for our eyes to adjust from the bright June afternoon.
When my vision adjusted I realized the audience was looking up. Following their gaze I found myself staring straight at a man on a high wire….a VERY high wire. No net, no safety harness. Just a tiny wire that he so gracefully maneuvered. I held my breath until the show ended and he was safely on the platform. As the applause died the ring master invited everyone back to the evening performance and while listening to him talk I realized I had just witnessed the end of a stunning performance by one of the flying Wallendas! I felt pretty privileged to have picked that tent to sneak into to get out of the heat that day.
Well Daddy’s been gone six month’s now and that’s exactly how I feel….. like I’m on a high wire….all the time. Always holding my breath. Always waiting to fall. Always wondering if I am balancing everything good enough to take the next step.
But I don’t have the luxury of being inside a tent just 30 feet up, the air still and calm around me. It feels like my wire is stretched across the Grand Canyon with no platform or net in site.
On a good day……a low stress, “normal” day…. my wire is steady and the air is calm. When I have a few of these days in a row, I’m lulled into a false sense of security that things are returning to normal and the grief monster has made his retreat. But as soon as any stress comes along the wire starts to quiver and the wind starts to blow around me.
I try to concentrate on whatever is at hand but my mind goes blank and all I can think about is that next step and the wind howling around me then just like that I’m back at the hospital facing the reality that I won’t be taking Daddy home this time.
So now all the worlds a stage and I have become a tight rope walker, constantly balancing, waiting to fall. Some days are better than others of course. On a good day, there isn’t even a breeze and I have one of those really long poles to help balance every step. On a bad day, there are gale force winds whipping around me as my wire sways from side to side. There’s definitely no balance pole.
So now as my grief mechanism of choice, my life has become an analogy for a high wire act. I lay in bed at night…all night lately since my insomnia has returned…wondering what I can do the next day to keep my winds perfectly still and calm. I need to not screw anything up. I need to not make anyone mad or hurt anyone’s feelings. I need to do whatever I can for the people around me to make whatever I can better in their world. I need to be “on” constantly, doing everything in my power to keep the wind calm. You see, if any of these things aren’t so, the wind around me starts to blow and each step on the wire becomes more and more perilous. I’m not sure what happens if I fall off. I don’t think I want to know. I could use a few lessons from a Flying Wallenda right about now. Maybe just cover the basics so life isn’t so damn hard without Daddy.