Nov 25, 2012

Handling the "no"

Yesterday, 10:35 am: Saturday.

There is a measure of relief in Saturday.  All is quiet - so quiet, in fact, that I can hear the clock ticking away on the mantle.  We don't use it because it runs slowly unless it's on its back, where only the ceiling gets to know what time it is.  And when I sit still enough, stop the trembling, I'm surprised by what I sense: a heart, beating, a pulse, steady.  I don't even have to feel for it.

That's how grief used to be - like a pulse.

And nearly a month later, there is a measure of relief in what it's become.  These days, it's more like my breath.  It ebbs and flows, draws back for a moment before it crashes on the rocks.  In every day, though, it's always in the background...a reliable sort of soundtrack.

On Wednesday, I donated my old boots and promptly bought a new pair.  They weren't very expensive, friends, and I do like my heels.

Obviously, the first thing I did when I got back was e-mail my sister to tell her all about them.  Upon hearing my oh-so-important news, she didn't exactly react with excitement, but maybe I should have expected as much.  As we grow up together, I'm learning that my sister - ever the practical one - can be counted upon to point out things like the black knee-highs that I already have at home.  Oops.  Well, I'm not sure that there's such a thing as too many boots - or too many shoes, for that matter.
This is my subtle way of letting you know that I actually did some ironing today. 
Early Wednesday evening, I was busy click-clacking around the house and strutting my stuff for no one in particular...when out of nowhere, I remembered the sky-high white heels.  I remembered the half-amused, half-worried look on her face when I used one mischievous finger to dangle the shoes in front of her and giggled, "Want to try them?"  Her eyes widened behind the bifocals.  "Me?  No, no...not me.  You all walk in them; I'm staying right here."  It was all harmless teasing and simple smiles...

And that was Wednesday.

The next day, Teresa and I received some mail from our Union buddies:
Letters...from everyone.  And these are just the ones addressed to me. Some of them made me cry (not that that's terribly difficult to do these days).
Thursday had been knocking me around long before I got to read these notes, though.  In my Endocrinology lab, I made enough pipetting errors to seriously skew my results...enough to actually earn me a reprimand from the professor.  She yelled at me.  I didn't know teachers still did that sort of thing.

After the lab was (finally) over, I stepped outside into the usual foggy Galway drizzle and pulled out my iPod.  (At a friend's recommendation, I had downloaded this message on Tuesday but hadn't found the time for it until Thursday.)  On my way to lab, I had listened to the first half; I was approaching the final remarks just as it came time to fish my apartment key from my pocket.

Knowing this friend, she meant the message to be an encouragement.  But judging by the way my hands shook as I reached for my key, I hadn't been ready to hear it.  You see, the speaker spends a fair amount of time addressing Jesus' time in Gethsemane - how He was "deeply grieved, to the point of death".  How apparently, that means He understands.  How, when presented with a "righteous, rigorous, repeated prayer", His Father replies, "No" - a tacit "no", but "no" all the same.

And so it has been for me: no, Sonika, I will not remove the obstacle.  No, I will not help you.  No, I will not stick around to heal your hurt.

The package from my friends lay on the table, unopened, and I glanced at it as I laid my coat on the hook.  Let me get a cup of coffee, then, before I sit down and enjoy whatever's inside that envelope.  My goodness, it's stuffed.  A few minutes later, I stood in the kitchen to gather the coffee, the sugar, the milk...and burst into tears in front of the kettle.  What?  This is ridiculous, girl.  You're heard "no" so many times before, and now you're upset about it?

And the opposing voice, always so insistent: but I'm usually in a position to handle it.  This isn't a "no" that I can handle.  I spent my summers growing up in that house, and now the best part of those summers is gone and my babies won't know that joy and I'm just so exhausted...

I wish I had a witty ending for you, friends...a clever turn of phrase, anything at all.  But tonight, I don't have much else to say, except that it's probably time for bed.

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