May is nearly here. Finally. The average final frost date is behind us which means there is a good chance we won’t see another one until fall. Thank goodness.
While mi papa was in the hospital and P and I whiled away the hauntingly cold days in the various waiting rooms, I felt so frozen, so stuck, so terribly isolated and remote. Even while surrounded by people, even while in shelter and warmth, I felt like everything had come to a sudden and terrible haunt and life wouldn’t resume again until spring. It was a desolate, desperate feeling. Especially with months to go until anything thawed.
Those months did pass, the air and ground have lost their icy depths. But, much to my suprise, I still feel a little frozen. I feel more stuck in grief than I ever have. Maybe it’s compounded by Phil’s grief as he mourns the loss of another aunt. Maybe it’s driven a little deeper as mi papa’s death pushed his children a little closer and now that the warm fuzzies have worn off, we have to muddle through the friction. Maybe it’s compacted by the impending arrival of lilac blooms all over the city. Mi papa loved lilacs, and as I watch the small, but very real, sometimes very fragrant, waves of early blooms erupt across the city, I feel both longing and dread for the days when the sweet, purple fragrance blows across entire streets. And then there is morel season – we won’t be able to bring him fresh mushrooms to fry up in butter. And then there is gardening season – I think I got my love of growing things from him. Even though a large chunk of what he grew was illegal. Details, details.
I got a call from my aunt. May 11th they’re spreading mi papa’s ashes in a cemetery in northern Minnesota. A cemetery that holds the graves of both his parents and his little boy. There will be no marker, the gathering will be small. He’ll be blown in the wind (or so I like to think) into a place (be it mental, be it physical) of greater freedom. And I’m dreading it. I think all of us are.
As I thaw from that very cold, very heavy winter, I find that I have to re-learn some realities. It seemed obvious he was dead in February. Nothing felt alive then. Now it seems so shocking that it takes my breath several times a day. He’s not here? He’s not here! When did he go away?! It’s bizarre, disconcerting, disorienting. Time is suppose to heal wounds, but right now it feels like time keeps opening them up wider and wider.
My aunt is sick. I talked to her tonight and in her confused, tired, sick state I heard her mumble something about being sick for weeks, something about pneumonia, something about the old bastard not waiting for her. For a long time it felt like if my dad or aunt went, the other would be quick to follow. And I wonder if I should brace myself for more death. I wonder if there is any way I can be supportive of her.
Tomorrow I have to ask for two days off for two different funerals in the next two weeks. In a company of young’uns it seems weird. I don’t think my boss has ever lost anyone close to her. I was suppose to ask for time off for P and I’s annual morel hunting extravaganza. But that won’t be happening. It feels sort of shameful and neglectful to set aside our one biggest tradition the first year we are married.
It feels like so much bad luck has come our way since we tied the knot. I try not to let my superstitious side get the better of me. I try to remind myself that I have P to hold on to now, that I don’t have to do this alone. But it’s hard to stay connected as we both struggle with our own grieving and our own stress and our fears about today and the future. It feels so hard to be hopeful right now, to be optimistic. I feel like everyone around me is going to drop away, slowly, one by one, that the circle of loss is going to get tighter and tighter until I can’t breathe and it takes me, too.
Oh, yes, I have a dark imagination these days. I hope it passes with the arrival of summer, of heat and sun to melt away the shadows. I suspect, however, it won’t be as easy as the peeling of calendar pages. I think it’s going to require a bit more work. But I just don’t know what I need to do.