Sunday, September 21, 2008

One of those days

First of all, I must say that these days are becoming less frequent. But they're still here. What kind of days? The ones during which I miss my aunt. A lot.

I'm trying my best to put my thoughts into some sort of order in between the sobs. Because with order, maybe I can make the sobbing stop. And because I had plans for today that did not involve curling up in a ball in bed for the entire day.

It probably all started a few days ago when I was talking to my dad. He started talking about his parents and my aunt. His big thing these days is about how he's so happy that I got to spend as much time as I did with his parents. He's just finally realized what a big impact that my grandparents had on my life. I think it was my aunt's death that made him realize this.

My father was devastated when his mother died. My stepmother had no clue what to do, what to say. At least that's what she told me. Then again, this is a woman who didn't even bother to attend my grandmother's funeral. So I helped my father deal with his grief and I dealt with mine alone for the most part.

If things were different, I would try to talk to my dad about all of this. His wife is dying, though, and he's dealing with his crazy ass in-laws. He has more than enough on his plate. He doesn't need my crap as well. So I lie to him when he asks how I am. I tell he doesn't need to be concerned when he says that he's worried about me.

Friday afternoon my former supervisor stopped by my office. He asked how I was doing and quickly took the question back. He knows. He's lost a lot of family members to cancer. How do I answer that question when asked? "Fine." "Coping." "Taking each day as it comes." What else is there to say?

We then talked about movies. He said that a few months after one of his relatives died, he made the mistake of seeing My Life. He ended up having a complete meltdown in a movie theater. I told him that I've been trying to stick to comedies and action flicks lately. I then mentioned that perhaps I should try to avoid Stepmom and I felt a tear slide down my cheek. Wouldn't you know that the movie was on some cable channel yesterday. I didn't watch it though. I did try to watch Soul Food though. That lasted for about 15 minutes and then I had to find something else. It just hurt too much.

I've tried to fill my days with classes and volunteering. Oh, and cooking. But cooking is another trigger. I don't really know how to cook in small quantities. There's only so much my freezer can hold as well. I often delivered the surplus to my aunt.

I started this practice when she was first diagnosed with cancer. At that time I worked about a ten minute drive away from her house so I would stop by after work. When I started working farther away, Sundays became the day that I would most likely stop by. I would call to make sure she would be in. When I mentioned a delivery, she would ask, "What's on the menu at the restaurant today?" I would drop off the containers of food and pick up the empty containers from previous weeks. And then we would sip tea and talk. That's what I miss. Our talks. I still find myself picking up the phone to call her at times. And then I remember.

This week I've really wanted to talk to her -- especially today. She spent most of her career teaching people how to empower themselves. She wanted there to be an even playing field -- for everyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any of the myriad ways in which we try to classify one another. She didn't like to watch the evening news because she said it was so filled with negativity. It doesn't mean that she wasn't aware of what was going on in the world. She just wanted to believe that we -- society in general -- could be better than those images she saw on the news.

In the past week there has been a great deal of discussion about privilege on the internet. As I read the first piece, I wanted to call my aunt. We had had this discussion for too many years to count. And finally it looked like everyone else was talking about it as well. My hope in people was renewed.

Then the discussion continued and I became frustrated and saddened. Now I really wanted to talk to my aunt. I wanted her to remind me that this is part of the discussion. Yes, the discussion is often phrased in terms of black and white. That's because that has the longest history in our country. Even if it is only put in these terms does not mean that it doesn't include all of us though. People will feel that they're under attack and become defensive. Some people will never really get it no matter how many ways you try to explain it to them. That's OK though. Those people usually end up being the minority. As long as I can believe that most of us can reach that point of consensus, then I can still have hope. Because I got to thinking that if you can't believe in the possibility of something difference, then what's the point of it all? Why try? Why do anything?

I had to remind myself that this is what living is though. Being a part of it all. Sounding like a broken record because maybe someday someone will finally pay attention. I thought about how it's just so overwhelming to try to change society as a whole. I can handle it one person at a time though.

Now I'm OK with the frustration. These problems didn't happen overnight. Nor will the solution.

And the sobbing has been replaced with the occasional quiet tear so maybe this has done it's job. Right now I don't miss my aunt as much. I just needed to remind myself that she's not really gone since she's so much of who I am.

Probably for the second time ever, I am turning off comments. Today I'm not much in the mood for dialogue, but tomorrow I probably will be. This was a hard decision because I figure that if I throw something out into the universe, then I should be willing to discuss it. This just isn't one of those days though.

With that, I'm off to do laundry and more cooking. The surplus? I'll probably take some to my mom. And maybe I'll bring some into work tomorrow.