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Trapped in Opposite

Good, bad, happy, sad, easy, difficult, here, gone.

I stepped off a plane in Tucson yesterday, caught the first sign of my mom and entered the land of opposites.

When Paul died in November, I decided to postpone my visit to see my mom until the initial waves of to do lists following a death had subsided. People expect the bereaved to be upset and sad in the early days and weeks after a loved one passes, but often people around us expect quite the opposite after a couple weeks. I think that has more to do with the lack of comfort that most people have with the truly uncomfortable so I wanted to spend time with her when I knew that sometimes people assume that all is well with the world, but life has become anything but. I planned a solo trip leaving my men alone in the frigid Ohio temperatures.

Usually when I plan a trip to see my mom, it is filled with anticipation. We have been really close for many, many years, and our visits are generally a time to try to pack six months or a year’s worth of time into a week. We talk and talk and talk, and as Paul used to remind us, we never repeated the same thing in all of our ramblings.

But there was dread interlaced with the anticipation. I knew that Paul’s death would become real to me when I stepped off that plane. This quiet, gentle man maintained such a large presence whether he was making the first pot of coffee or knocking on walls to surprise you or eating the cheese crisp loaded with the hot salsa that made his forehead sweat at his favorite Mexican restaurant.

He and I often took morning walks through the desert, and I want to make a trek that we would have made together. It seems appropriate, and I always enjoyed that time, just the two of us. But I couldn’t do it this morning.

In an attempt not to use food to soothe all the feelings that I knew would surface, I headed to the little workout facility in their neighborhood early this morning. The release of the physical activity felt good.

As I walked back to the house, the tears started rolling down my face, gently at first, but I could feel them build. I reached into my jacket hoping to find a Kleenex or something to catch some of the ugliness that was bubbling to the surface, but my pocket was empty like the right side of the driveway where his truck was once parked. I walked passed my mom’s house, not ready to go inside and wanting to spare her from me just shy of hyperventilating as I tried to catch some of the emotion refusing to be contained any longer. I knew mom would be OK with seeing me like that, but I didn’t want her to feel like she needed to do anything for me.

I contemplated venturing out through the desert where Paul and I would have gone had he been there, but I realized that I wasn’t in any condition to necessarily find my way back so I settled down on a park bench that was on the edge of the desert. I sat and cried as I sent some of my thoughts out into the universe in hopes that he would receive them from wherever he might be.

As I pulled myself together, I looked up and saw my single shadow on the park bench and it made me cry all the harder, but I let the tears flow. I came back to the house and sat on the back porch until the rest of the messy, ugly tears subsided. I know the emotion has to come out.

Mom and I talked through the rest of the tears, and that just needs to be OK. It’s real and it sucks and it is different. I guess I just need to let it all be for the time being.


4 Responses

  1. Nicely expressed. The picture conjures up memories of trials and tribulations I have endured in my life. A little solitude is helpful to allow the soul to heal.

  2. Yes, you are absolutely right – quiet time is important. It’s been a good visit. I’m really glad to be here eventhough it can be hard at times.

  3. Beautifully written. “but my pocket was empty like the right side of the driveway where his truck was once parked. “– ohh, that got to me.

    I like the photo. Powerful. It also reminds me of home (AZ girl).

  4. Thanks Gina. I wonder sometimes how my mom feels about the things I write about such a personal time, but it feels like it’s something that I have to explore.

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