Monday, November 29, 2010

When Love Dies

She was dead a good five months before I finally cried for her. The tears, and the heavy, painful sobs that burst out of me, came suddenly and unexpectedly late one night as I lay in bed. One minute I was thinking of her and how I’d felt nothing but numbness since my mother gave me the news; the next, I was bawling, remembering the woman I loved so very much, whom I feel so lost without.

She was never “like” a mother to me; she was a mother to me, period. She did not just take care of me from the time I was two months old (until I was four, and school breaks throughout my childhood) and treat me kindly; she treated me as if I was her own daughter, providing me with an abundance of love and affection and tenderness - so much tenderness - that its absence (an absence that began a few years ago with her illness) has left me feeling so alone and abandoned that I don't know what to do with myself. I have lost my anchor and am unmoored.

Her death this past February took from my life the only source of unconditional love I’ve ever known. When I say “unconditional,” I mean it. There was no wrong that I did, no neglectfulness or selfishness on my part, that was ever a cause for her rejection. She was firm and honest and brought me to tears - but she never denied her affection, never held back her love. There was never any rejection, and there are no words to express how this one act of kindness and compassion on her part - doled out over the years in ways large and small - saved me.

I have missed talking to her, sharing the news of my life and listening to hers. I have missed her cooking, especially her spaghetti. I have missed being in her home, seeing the knick-knacks - the fake-ivory elephant, the African statues, the pressed butterflies, her jewelry box - that as a child I played with, each item a portal to a world of make-believe.

I have missed her - her smile, her smell, her hugs. I've missed the comfort of her arms and wisdom.

I think about her final years and feel a pain that leaves me mute. I've been unable to process the events following her accident a few weeks after Max was born that took her from her home, her life, her adopted country. These last years, where I have been unable to see her and have spoken to her only a few times - she growing foggier and more distant as her health and mind slipped - have been difficult in ways I can't discuss because there's no way to explain it. I have ached for her and felt helpless in my inability to take care of her in her final years like she took care of me in my childhood.

It was supposed to be that way: I was to care for her, in whatever way she needed. Instead, she never saw my son more than once, a short visit in the rehab facility where she held him and snuggled him close and declared him perfect, her eyes shining with tears as she hugged me and told me she was proud of me. There was that, and then there was nothing.

I am raw with pain and at the same time deeply ashamed of my selfishness. She is dead and all I care about is myself? Yet this grief is terrible, because I've been unable to deal with it. I've pushed it away all these months and it suffocates me. I don't know how make my way through this.

She would have been 97 years old today. My mami.

Her love is a debt I will never be able to repay, a gift I probably did not deserve but that made everything bad about my life bearable. In her love was life.

And with her death, what is left?

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Posted by Tere @ 11/29/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude or Bust

I don't care for Thanksgiving Day. It's lovely to have a day that's basically officially designated to spend with family over a great meal, but... I've always found it anticlimactic. It's so much build-up, so much anticipation and expectation, and yet I almost always feel bummed. Try as I might to shrug it off and not over-think it, as soon as the holiday looms, melancholy hits.

It's hard to feel this way even as I feel deeply grateful for my life and everyone in it. Or rather, it's hard to temper the melancholy with the way today *has to* be about family and togetherness and gratitude. In fact, the pressure to be grateful and feel blessed and to swim in a pool of love and family and warmth only serves to exacerbate my moodiness.

It sounds like I dislike the holiday, but that's not the case. I'm just not impressed by it; I don't see the point to designating one day in the year to go into gratitude overdrive. It's a bit much to swallow all this when it feels like most people are putting on a show. And I see the other spin to this, that it's just a moment to express thankfulness for everyone and everything in our lives, to take a break from daily troubles and self-absorption, to - even if just for a day - not be neglectful of the things that matter most.

But it's that very notion that depresses me, that it takes a specially designated day for us to pause and reflect; pause and feel humble; pause and stand in astonishment that despite all our problems, we are loved and lucky in ways that so many lack. And for me, that just sucks.

It's not in any way lost on me how very blessed I am; feeling as I do about today does not negate my own feelings of gratitude for my family, my son, my job, my friends, the roof over my head, my health and most especially for the wonderful man whose love and friendship has transformed my life. But you know, I think I've long been grateful for these things, and more importantly, I think I've made a conscious effort to regularly express that gratitude in some way.

So today, I will reject the pressure of perfection. I will enjoy the delicious food and feel warm and happy with the people I love. But I will feel the melancholy, too. It's unavoidable for me, and I won't ignore it. That melancholy is itself a blessing, because in its own way, it heightens the very gratitude today's supposed to be about.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/24/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hang Tight, if You're Hanging at All

I'd love to be coy and wonder out loud if there's anyone even reading this anymore, but I'm not too good at faking that kind of thing. My stat tracker shows me plain as day you're all out there still, reading regularly (or reading, period), though what or why, I'm not sure, since I'm basically an absent blogger these days. But, you're there, and I know it, so why pretend?

I've got this angsty, confessional post coming up that goes into a lot of detail about my thoughts on blogging lately, but since it's not yet finished and I'm feeling the need to write, that'll have to wait a little more so I can whine a bit about how freaking stressed I've been for weeks now.

It's the usual - work and school, both of which are slamming me with projects and events (work) and papers and projects (school). It's not so much that it's too overwhelming, but rather, exhausting. I get home and the last thing I want to do is be on the computer. By the time Max is asleep, I can barely see straight. I think I'm about ready to accept that there won't be any real down, quiet time that would allow me the energy and presence of mind to write for a good while, because just when I think, oh, in two weeks XXX and XXX will be over and done with and then I can get back to some of the things I want to do, something new comes up and there goes that. I'm back to exhausted and being short on time.

The thing is, beyond the exhaustion and myriad time-consuming responsibilities and the pretty busy schedule I maintain with Max and Jevo, I really feel a bit over-saturated with technology and just don't want to deal with it when I do have down time. By the time I'm home from work, I'm sick of the computer. I don't get full use of my iPhone because while I love how handy it is, I've come to view these *smart* phones are real hindrances to having real, enjoyable engagement with real, live human beings (more on that on another day, as I've got a lot of phone rage I'd love to vent about).

There's some other stuff, some other reasons why it's felt like a real challenge to write here for some time. You'll have to wait for the angsty post for that. Today, it's just a small peek into what's been going on lately, and an effort (small, to be sure) on my end to stay in touch. I struggle a lot with the notion of feeling obligated to an audience, of *having to* write for anyone but myself, and especially with addressing said audience. But at the same time, isn't that what a blogger wants for her blog, readers? So how can I then ignore you or pretend you're not there, when I know you are, and I love you for it?

Sheesh, even that made my brain hurt. This exhaustion is exhausting. Please light a candle that I survive the next couple of weeks, because seriously, I do have a lot on my plate.

Over and out for now.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/17/2010   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 01, 2010

Of Gorgons and Men

As I've chronicled here in sufficient detail, Halloween is a big deal to me. It remains one of my most favorite holidays, as I totally buy into the illusion that for one night (or an entire weekend, depending on your plans), you can be someone else. I mean, as long as I'm in costume, I try to be as in character as possible. In a life where I have to be increasingly focused and organized, I very much look forward to this chance to be plain silly and fun.

When Jevo and I started dating last year, he confessed that he wasn't much for Halloween. Whereas such a declaration would normally make me wrinkle my nose at a guy (and deem him unsuitable for the long-term), I was much too smitten for that and instead batted my eyelashes and asked him to celebrate Halloween with me. He seemed amused by my enthusiasm for the holiday and, probably because he was completely smitten and would have done whatever I asked at that moment, readily agreed to dress up with me.

We had so much fun. From getting really into putting our costumes together to dressing up for a few events and acting like our characters - it was just a great weekend for us. We soon began discussing ideas for this year, and ran through a few cool ideas before realizing we were running out of time and settled on an idea I'd long had and was dying to try out. Both, to me, have been creative and quirky and cool, because they haven't been obvious or boring and have required work.

The funnest part, though, has been the way the last two Halloweens have brought out the kids in us. Jevo's been such a fun partner in crime, totally getting into the spirit of things and egging me on in silliness. I appreciate him so much for that.

So, last year's costumes were inspired by an early episode of season three of Mad Men. We were watching together as Betty, in the final moments of her pregnancy, smoked like a chimney and drank like a horse. I blurted out that I wanted to go around town in a fake belly with a martini in my hand, and from that, the idea was born: we'd be Don and Betty Draper (and it totally helped that the show Mad Men plays a really big role in our relationship changing from friends to way-more-than-friends).

Here was the end result:



(YES, behold, for that is Jevo! Handsome, eh?)

And this year, seeing we weren't going to have enough time to put together our original plan (it was requiring hunting for too many different pieces), I suggested one I'd been dying to do for years that would require less work. See, I've always wanted to be Medusa (I'm a total mythology geek), and I figured Jevo could be any male figure of Greek mythology he preferred. We found a ready-made costume for Poseidon, and - done. It was perfect, actually, because it was because of Poseidon that Medusa was turned into a hideous creature (by Athena, for making love in her temple. I told you all I was a mythology geek). There's nothing out there that I considered a great snake-head piece, so I just made my own.

And, behold: the god and the gorgon, in full battle mode after their love affair went sour:



Man, I can't wait till next year!

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Posted by Tere @ 11/01/2010   | | | links to this post