The long pause has been a solid knot in my throat; the kind that catches your breath to prevent tears from descending. We hold it for as long as we can. I’ve wanted to write and I’ve wanted to wallow. It would be fair to anticipate this post being about losing our sense of identity during mass quarantine; our daily routines upended -then frozen in place, held captive to exist solely within our own thoughts and immediate environments. Sometimes it takes the metaphorical weight of poured concrete just to get us to sit with ourselves and really hear the inner dialogue. Coronavirus, here we are. We’re allowed to swing between short-fused and despondent to excited about ALL I CAN DO with the free time!
But no, this isn’t another ‘Day #… on Lockdown’ from your favorite blogger in whatever country you wish to visit more. And now you wonder when you really will…
This is a different kind of sadness, the kind one doesn’t escape by getting to go back to the office or the mall once the lockdown has lifted. But it’s also the perfect time to feel myself through it, pity myself for the last despicable time, and hopefully add some perspective to your boring routine of bed-kitchen-desk-couch-shower in no particular order.
My grandmother died on Valentine’s Day. This was anticipated. While she deserves a proper eulogy, I will surmise her case by sharing her name. Dolores. Dolor derives from Latin, meaning sorrow or pain. She both existed within this and used it to her effect. A very fierce German who raised three daughters with three part-time jobs before settling on a solid career, I was taught many ways of the world by her and despite her pre-requisites, she did love me unconditionally. There was a lot of pain and heartache in her life, and she made sure everyone knew it. But with the same conviction, she wanted what was best for those she loved; she could cuss the gods then pray penance after all was delivered. Time lends much hindsight, and women of her generation did what they could to not only make a way, but make a name, and subsequently never be forgotten. There’s much folklore in my family, hers is that she opened the first gay-lesbian bar in Amarillo, TX in the early 60’s. I suppose my mother got accepting people for exactly who they are from her. My grandmother might hold it against you; my mother would never consider it.
The shocking gut punch came when my mother died in her sleep two weeks after my grandmother. It chokes me to even type these words. We thought we had a grip on things. We never have a grip on things. We only had a perception. But admittedly, her health had been on the decline for the last handful of years, too. She was my anchor. I can’t compress all she was to me in a blog post; it’ll be expressed at the memorial when we can all gather in groups again. Anything celebratory. To say she was not only my mother but my best friend seems trite, but it is absolutely true, as all of the females I grew up with live out of state. I leaned all of my being into and shared all of my self with her.
I can say matter of factly, she raised me well. She let my misdeeds weigh on my conscience and amplified any good or ambition I had. There was honesty to a fault, even when you didn’t want to hear it; but this is also why people gravitated to her, the truth. Now that I rifle through her old journals I see how simple and profound she was. Her one-liners of wisdom will be the quotes I grapple for instead of storied writers.
Love you like a rock. Solid, steady.
She never met a stranger. Everyone received a congenial approach and sincere inquiry. It annoyed me, her casualness in conversation, even with the miscreants of humanity; but she didn’t see those flaws. To her detriment, she was often naive because of immediate trust. I learned from her there are two types of people in the world: those who are immediately trusting of others and those who required time and evidence. She accepted people in their extremes, their archetypes. How cruel and awful the world is, this was equal to how much leniency she lent out, how much acceptance she afforded us all. This was her greatness. She was pure and sweet and good. This character unfortunately spilled over into how she perceived her health and how she ‘didn’t want anyone to bother.’ A naivety, an irresponsibility. And she was so beautiful. There are so many pictures I want to share, I’m sifting through piles, organizing by dates and decades. In time. I’ve always loved this one though.
It is hard not to allow more wallowing and pity this time affords me, but it seems I find myself healing while the world mourns. I have a premonition that neither my grandmother nor my my mother would’ve survived this trial we see ourselves in, as they were both immunocompromised with respiratory problems. And the fact that my grandmother passed in hospice after all said their goodbyes and my mother died in her sleep after a very jovial evening, I have some relief in this. Anything would’ve been more dire. Now would’ve been more strained.
We are in a shared moment of grief. What will he have lost on the other side of this? -a job, a routine, the value of a 401K. Maybe we lose a whole way of living but gain an entirely new perspective, dust off an old dream, find a new ambition. In the very least, we will have a new appreciation for the little things and a different level of gratitude for our cherished people.