Tracy Quartermaine is leaving General Hospital. And I am sobbing. Tracy Quartermaine is a fictional character on a soap opera and I am wailing. “No, Tracy Quartermaine, please don’t leave us! You’re breaking my heart!” To say goodbyes aren’t my strong point is an understatement. Guess what? Nobody likes goodbyes. A good friend’s mother passed away in Trinidad this week. The rituals following the funeral take two weeks. In Mexico, its nine days. In the Jewish religion, there is the seven day mourning period known as Shiva. We all have an extended mourning period to say good bye. We need that time to come to terms with absence and loss and change. And this doesn’t only apply when a loved one passes away. I recently finished the second production with the Community Synagogue Theatre Company. Since the last curtain came down, we have had an adult cast party, a cast dinner, an upcoming cast gathering to view the video, countless Karaoke nights, and a girls night out to say goodbye to one of our loved ones who is moving away. We adore each other. We miss each other. We can’t believe we are not going to see each other three times a week for eternity. But the days pass, and we get together less, and we work and plan vacations and deal with children and honor commitments and live life. Until the next time, when we will squeal, and embrace and scoop up children who have grown six inches in the last year and start all over again. Life will always include goodbyes. Some are temporary. Some are not. The trick is to not look back and be sad for what is gone, but to be grateful for what was here, to embrace what is happening now, and hopeful for what will come. Thanks for the memories, Tracy Quartermaine.
A dear friend of mine’s daughter committed suicide several days ago. I didn’t know her well. She lived with her other parent, who I met a couple of times but also didn’t know well. I have found myself terribly saddened by this young woman’s inability to see a brighter future, to carry on until things get better, to ask for and accept help when it seems nothing will help. But I’ve somehow managed to make it about me. How much I do not want to go to the wake because it’s going to be uncomfortable and awful. For me. I have to go or be perceived as a “bad friend”. Can’t have that! When can I go so as to spend the least time feeling uncomfortable while still being a “good friend”. I’m finding it hard to just suck up my discomfort and be there for a friend who is feeling so much more than discomfort. Anguish, pain, loss, despair. A mother’s deepest grief, a pain that will lessen but never leave. It is always startling that the world does not revolve around me. And how much of the universe’s gifts, both good and bad, I have been deprived of because there was some discomfort involved. As I write this, dreading the task in front of me, I know that whatever is running through my head and heart doesn’t matter one bit. I can acknowledge it, but not pay it more heed than that. Because not everything is about me.
Woman Praying carynjune
In memory of Joy
As I settle into my seat on the train this morning the bats flapping around in my belfry are working up a good head of steam. I wonder why the guy sitting in front of me always drinks a beer out of a paper bag on the train at 6:45 in the morning, or why I woke up with the theme from “Gilligan’s Island” in my head. I wonder if the new top I’m wearing today looks like I only paid $2.99 for it. I feel a little chill in the air and I think about last winter and what this winter might be like, my thoughts finally settling on, of all places, the week of my dad’s funeral. A huge snowstorm was predicted that week, and because we were going to be sitting shiva, the whole family brought enough baggage for several days, prepared to stay. My mom, my brother and sister-in-law and my nieces, my sister, my husband and I were all there, and the day after the funeral the snow came and we were stuck. My mom had slipped on a patch of ice a couple of weeks before, fracturing her pelvis and was still hobbling around with a walker. There was a lot of #%^* going on. But curiously, this long weekend remains both one of the saddest and one of the nicest memories. It is so rare that we don’t have one foot out the door; we have things to do, places to go. We want to visit longer, but we have to be somewhere, we want to miss the traffic, we have to get up early. For a few days as we made funeral arrangements, buried a husband, father, grandfather, we were together. We ate, we schmoozed, we spent time with family and friends who braved the weather, we ate again. We shoveled snow, we ate some more. We cried, we laughed, we told stories, we ate. I loved that weekend. That sounds bad, right? How is it possible that I sometimes wish we could go back to that long weekend full of sorrow. But not just sorrow. Love and memories and food and laughter. We laughed a lot, sometimes with tears in our eyes. All together. With the heaviest of hearts often comes the lightest peace, and we carry our losses on our backs, like wings.
Luna, the Prototype carynjune