I thought it was the cold weighing me down, the incessant, doesn’ t matter how many sweaters you wear or how high you crank the heat cold that’s clinging to my bones lately. I thought maybe it was sunlight, a lack thereof, a lack of sleep perhaps, sick children, sad children, not sleeping children. I thought perhaps the spectre of my job disappearing very soon was eating at me.
It’s all of those things. Maybe it’s none of those things. But I’ve got this low level depression building in my chest, and I can’t remove it, clingy like plastic wrap, stubborn in it’s whispers. I’m grateful it’s not the “jump in front of a bus” kind, that it’s more of the type of depression average people get, sadness, an inability to get excited or do anything. I feel like a little hamster stuck in the corner of the cage-I can see the wheel-it’s over there and pretty and WEEEE! it would be fun but damn, I just can’t work up the energy or will to care.
It’s emotional atrophy almost. Spend a few days not caring, a few days unable to work up the will to finish that bloody green blanket, unable to do more than the least amount possible, answering the phone becoming difficult. Then everything contracts. You’re fine on the outside, but smiling almost hurts, like your hair when you’re down with the flu. Finding a kind word takes a deep breath and thought. It’s just…a second more effort for everything.
I’m not complaining. I just realized on the bus this morning, I’m not just tired. I’m sad. Sure, I’m handling this whole losing my job thing with more grace and calmness than even I expected, but I’m numb almost. I worry that this sadness will morph into more, and I sing when I can to banish the darkness. I’m waiting for the shoe-I shouldn’t be this calm to a stressor so large as losing a job after 8 years. I should be something more, right?
At least though, I’m still mostly ok. The 10% sad can be buried under everything else, made better by sweet touch and words, ignored while life is lived, and smiled at in mirrors. After so long, it’s so simple and pure, to just be sad, to just be touched by life and really feel it without the overlap of voices muttering.
Strange that sadness might be showing me the path where I get better.
Vivian has been having nightmares the last few nights, where she comes flying from her bedroom sobbing, reaching for me. She wouldn’t tell me what they were about. Last night I asked her to please tell me today, if she could, that I’d like to help her chase the bad things away.
This morning she tells me she’s afraid that her Daddy and I will die.
I’m not big on lying. But, I’m also not big on making a 5 year old cry. So I chose the middle ground, much as my parents did, long ago.
“No one is going to die until you’re all grown up, with kids maybe, and we’ve pooped on your carpet. No one is going to leave you.”
Do I believe this? No. I know full well that this can be a brutal lie, that parents can and do leave, or die. But, I think it matters when a parent says “I will never leave you.” Because none of us ever want to, even if circumstances change and force the hand.
I reminded her that what happened to my mother is rare, an odd freak occurance, and that it wouldn’t happen to us. But that also, my mother never really left, and lives in my heart, and in the air around us, forever. That she loves me, and even her. That parents don’t leave.
We ventured further down the path of what happens at death, what I believe, what others believe. I explained that some people, including her grandmother, believed in heaven, and hell, but that I didn’t believe it. Then from her mouth comes:
“Mommy, baby Jesus isn’t real is he?”
I tell her he’s a story some people believe in, that I was raised to believe in. But that I just don’t.
I talk a little more about life being a circle, that life, like seasons, follows a path of change. That death is change, and even though I miss my Mommy dearly somedays, she’s here, somewhere, with us, inside us.
“Does this make sense Vivian?”
“Sorta.” she mumbles, “Can I go to J’s after school today?”
She skips off ahead of me for awhile, processing I’d imagine, forming her world view, slowly, until it comes back to bite me in the ass in 2 months or 6 years.
So many people are horrified when I talk of speaking to my children of death, or sex-but these are two certainties in our lives, two changes, events, continums we cannot alter. We will all die, some sooner, some later. We will hurt-so why not begin the conversation young, when it’s relatively simple, and yet not so simple, because death, it’s never a quiet movement, it’s not as simple as the change I describe, it really is as a season, the color dropping from us, falling to only our bones in a silent concerto.
I believe we continue, and death is not so sad. And I never want my children to fear this one last act.