Sunday, December 16, 2007

The December Dilemma

Yesterday was David’s birthday. If he were alive, he’d be 53 instead of frozen at 39-1/2.


I did not cry, well not from that anyway, not yesterday. I buried myself in work, so much work. Typing, editing, collating, data entry, cooking, baking, all sorts of work to keep my hands busy and perhaps fool my mind and heart for a while. Perhaps. Perhaps not. You can fool some of the heart some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the heart all of the time.

My youngest helped me bake cookies, over a dozen dozen cookies, four different types. We made cinnamon-pecan rounds, orange shortbread and jelly filled thumb print cookies. That’s only three? Well, while those were chilling, I made the girls peanut butter chocolate chip cookies as consolation snacks. The orange shortbread cookies still need to be dipped in melted chocolate. I’ll do the trimout tomorrow night when youngest and I make cream-cheese filled brownie bites.

How else did I spend my day, distracting the empty hours? I talked on the phone. I played on the computer. I had a long conversation with the girls’ dad, discussing our separate lives, how we each feel about this and where we are going, the divergent paths we are pursuing. Our youngest brought down our wedding portrait from her closet, where she keeps it hidden. A year ago today I smashed my bare foot through that portrait, shattering the glass, bloody footprints on the carpet when I left to spend the night in my office. It was a lifetime ago, maybe longer. We even discussed what we might have done or not done if we had known it would come to this. Oh, that’s a gloss. That’s a lie.

I knew. I saw. I saw it years ago. So did he. We are not stupid. We are not blind. Stubborn, intransigent, sullen, with so many hurts over the years, so many large and small hurts festering, a succubus on our love, leaving us sickle celled and broken. Hard to ignore an elephant in the room, especially a vampire elephant, but we managed. Only thing, sooner or later, if you ignore the elephant, the room is filled with elephant excrement, leaving no room for anything else.

I even watched TV.

Anything but allow myself to feel, to fall into that grief, that open wound with his name on it.

He is 39-1/2.

I did not bake a cake. I did not light a candle. I did not visit his grave. I did not buy him crayons, not the box of 16 scented nor the box of 48 assorted classic. I did not eat sushi or pickled turnips or make vegetable cutlets with mushroom gravy a la Galishoff’s. David and I spent eight years experimenting until we were satisfied with our rendition of a vegetable cutlet. Our final product has a mashed potato and matza meal base, with a bit of coarsely mashed turnip, chopped carrot, peas, cut string beans and diced, sauteed onions and garlic. Form large patties, saute in oil, high heat to get a crust. Finish in a 375 oven. These keep and can be reheated in the oven. The microwave will break down the crust. I did none of these things. None.

And then it was night. I am alone with my thoughts, my memories. The ghosts talk to me, crowd me. Pull me to them, press me. They laugh at me, at my desperation and avoidance, taunting me with replayed conversations.

I cap my pen. Close the book and add it to the pile of books, papers and folios waiting to be reshelved. It is a large pile. I have not attended to housekeeping recently. Still, I am the only one to ever enter this place, so I am the only one to be disturbed by the disorder. If I have disorder here, it must serve a purpose for me. I’ll divine it later, the purpose. Meantime, I curl up in my favorite chair and pull a blanket over my head.

I can sleep or I can cry.

If I keep the covers over my head, I can pretend to be asleep and no one will know if I am crying.

Even me.

I can hide the truth from me. I can pretend.

Or at least I can try.

Happy birthday, David.


winged unicorn said...

you thought maybe i was going to talk about christmas???

Independent Accountant said...

It's tragic, but I didn't think about the fact that 15 December was David's birthday. 16 December is Uncle Sam's. We get older, the memories fade. We too, will see an end to birthdays.

winged unicorn said...

well big brother, as daddy used to say: birthdays? consider the alternative!