Sunday, December 18, 2005

Talk about mood swings...

When I put myself to bed last night, I was in one hell of a great mood. In addition to finding the most fabulous parking spot ever (see yesterday's post), I finished all my Christmas shopping. I even did a little shopping for myself and managed to find bras in my size, two of which can even be considered cute. The bra thing alone qualifies as a great day, but the combined effect of parking, shopping and bras had me practically ecstatic.

I woke up this morning still in pretty good spirits, and headed out to finish up my weekend errands. Somewhere along the way, I remembered that I still need to send a sympathy card to my co-worker whose son recently died. Shortly thereafter, I found myself crying in the card aisle of Bartell's. Later at home I was having some lunch and listening to one of my dad's old cds. Shortly thereafter, I found myself crying into my soup. Here's why (this is me attempting blogging as therapy):

In the last few years before Dad died, his addictions got pretty bad. You could always tell how messed up he was by how thick his wrong-side-of-the-tracks Boston accent was. Sober, it was completely undetectable; shit-faced drunk, it was starting to peak out; high on something stronger than booze, he sounded just like his Dorchester raised daddy. I always wondered if it was truly his own latent accent coming back, or a subconscious self-deprecating act to better resemble his royal fuck up of a father. But that's a subject for another day...

Anyway, about 5 or 6 Thanksgivings ago I got a call from my dad. My then husband answered, and indicated by our secret code gesture that Dad was beyond fucked up. I decided to take the phone anyway, it being Thanksgiving and all. I think this was the morphine stage for Dad, so the thick Boston accent was more slurred than usual and I could barely understand him. I don't even remember now what it was we were talking about, but I remember trying to cheer him up and said something pathetic like, "But it's Thanksgiving..." By now he was crying, and his reply came forced through tears: "This isn't Thanksgiving. Not one of my kids is here with me..."

It's important to note: he didn't say this in a pathetic guilt trip sort of way. (In fact, at this point in the conversation, he'd forgotten who he was talking to and thought I was his friend from work.) He said it in a "my kids don't love me so why don't I take a few more hits" sort of way, and it killed me.

Surely you can guess the ending to this story: I vowed I'd make it up to him, and he died before I had the chance.

This was the memory that somehow found its way into my broccoli cheddar soup, and then followed me around for the rest of the day as I distractedly cleaned my house.

I was finally comforted earlier this evening when Todd brought Riley home. In part because seeing Riley reminded me that, because he was born two months after my dad died, the memories of the saddest time in my life are intertwined with memories of the happiest moment in my life. Plus, somehow Riley always seems to sense when Mommy is in need of an extra gleeful, extra long hug, and he surely delivered tonight.

And, oddly enough, part of the comfort came from Todd who went through it with me - at least the last several years of it. Though I didn't bring it up, I knew that I could have and he would get it on a level that no one else can. Guess it's a good thing I decided we should stay on friendly terms...

So in the course of one day, I went from ecstatic to grieving to deeply appreciative for the people I have around me - even my ex-husband. It's a helluva journey for one day, but probably appropriate at this time of year - at least the deeply appreciative part, anyway.

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