188) Thanksgiving?

November 21, 2007

El Milagro: Okay, so it's been awhile since I posted. I did make some notes thru this down time but as I look through them, it's "same ole, same ole..." This week we here at El Milagro are on the turkey-day-schedule, with MWF's coming in on STF and TTS's coming in on MWS. I was in Dallas on Monday, so I am a TWT this week.... wierd coming in on Tuesday and Wednesday but here I am. I weigh in at 75.2... I gained 1 pound since last night!

Today I'm ready to post because I'm thinking about how some old friends of mine aren't going to have a Happy Thanksgiving. Their 17 year old daughter was rushing out from home to take an AP test at her high school at 8 in the morning. It was drizzly that
day and she was in a hurry. Within a couple miles from home she slid around a curve into the path of a pickup truck and they collided... and Helena was killed in the wreck. Her brother was my son's best friend all through Montessori school and our families had many fine times together at soccer games, Montessori events, and various kid birthday parties. Katie knew the younger daughters and was the first one to go to visit after Helena's departure. I hadn't seen Helena in years, remembering her as a gawky pre-teen and having even better memories of her as a toddler with her diaper hanging off her little butt like the Coppertone girl, and Helena wandering onto one of the soccer fields of our memories. So, mostly I feel for her parents; Jerry and Sue. Jerry and I, over the years, have run into each other around town, usually in our trucks, stopping to say "Hi" and catch up mostly on Nick and Johnny's adventures. At this time, however, I am thinking mostly of Sue and I can imagine how horrible it must be to be dealing with this loss. I remember parents who've had their kids die saying "A parent always expects to die before their children... and when a child dies first, it is a terrible thing." I can't imagine how she feels. I picture her hearing the sirens and worrying about Helena who rushed out and didn't even say "goodbye", her motherly intuition telling her something is wrong (I heard from Katie that she intuited that it was Helena when she heard the sirens).

We have these descriptive metaphors in our society about death… crossing the great water; crossing Jordan, crossing to Valhalla, etc. And there are the metaphors of loss… cast adrift in a lonely sea of darkness… I seem to recall this painting by Paul Klee that has this forlorn person standing in a boat in a night-time sea. When I try to find that painting it eludes me: it is only a memory of a feeling. I suspect that my longings for Klee’s painting are an innocuously allegorical illustration of loss that I find “acceptable”. I want those feeling represented by something of value and paintings immediately come to mind. I also want to offer out to ether a metaphor that Jerry & Sue can grab onto, knowing full well that there is no real way to step into their moccasins right now.

A death in the family immediately changes all your plans. It sweeps clean your brain and your schedule and takes over on all your cognitive and emotional levels. All your little plans and the things you thought were important just hours before are swept off the burners, trashed, and no longer seem of any relevance at all. The shock puts you directly in the present with your thoughts and feelings. I imagine all the things that may have seemed important to Sue until she found her daughter dead... and how that fact and the attendant shock swoops in and overwhelms everything else in a way nothing else can. Just imagining stepping into her shoes makes me shudder. I can't even really associate into what I hallucinate is her state without shuddering. But, when I see my own big kids I want to hug them close. So, my commiseration about Sue, Jerry, Nicky, and Adrian and their pain and despair in their loss acts as a backdrop for the usual festive celebrations of our own family Thanksgiving.

I want to cherish every droplet minute of the holiday and want to notice and archive each fleeting nuance... Uncle John takes pictures but they don't capture my perspective so even as I review the pics, I am not satisfied. It is a somewhat uncomfortable thing to be in my current space. As the surface moves along affably I am grouchy underneath. I don't want to take it out on my family and yet I find myself being less than sensitive to my own people.

For example, when my dad and aunt came up for our traditional after-turkey-day brunch I was more interested in my work on the back 40 than on visiting with the company. I actually loved the seating of the whole family (minus Katie who was working) at the table of luscious lox, bagels, herring and cream sauce, kosher salami and all the fixin's, seeing everyone visiting and catching up with each other... Johnny sharing about working at UNT; Lizzie showing Shayna pictures; and even Carol telling stories about the current horrors of working for the State Comptroller. As they were all enjoying the food and fun I couldn't help thinking about how it probably compares with my hallucinations about Sue & Jerry’s current state.

And so, amidst this disconcerting medley of thoughts and feelings, I pass another Thanksgiving and into the fall and winter.
So it goes.

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