A year ago today,
I was mock-screaming in fear on a mountain road in Tahoe with vulturechick
, going to see the Ryche. (P.S. Made into an essay here
.Six years ago today,
I was huddled in a house meant to hold 3 with my 12 teammates in Pittsburg, wanting to die.
Twelve years ago today, I was at a basketball game, selling Tshirts for the club I was in, hoping someone would cover for me on the game tomorrow because I wanted to go to St. Joe and see my dad in the hospital then.
As it turned out, there would be no dad tomorrow.
I am sitting and doing my homework when Mom's cousin Etta Mae and her daughter Sandy come in.
It's about 10:30.
An hour before, my dad had stopped breathing.
There was sort of blur after that -- I remember that my little sister just screamed like people do on TV. I'd never heard anything like it. I still forget how young she was, how hard it was for her. She was 14.
But.. me being me, I knew that the house would soon be full of people. I turned the coffeepot on. I got tea ready for mom. I picked up my school books. I went in the bathroom and threw up, then dug out some softscrub and cleaned the sink and toilet. I went outside and fed the dogs. The whole time, I kept repeating in my head "my dad is dead" like I was practicing it. I made mom and dad's bed and then climbed in on his side, where his pillow was, but I was aware that I had be up by the time they got home. I couldn't look sad. I couldn't make them worry about me....
I look at this 100 pound 18 year old now in third person, like I was looking at a stranger. I know some of these details are wrong, that I've filled them in to part of my personal mythology. What was I wearing? I don't remember, but when I see it, I see me with black leggings and a long tshirt, maybe my Rage for Order shirt -- an outfit I wore a lot. (Early 90s -- I know I know). What was the homework I was doing? I see it as world history, see the lime-green colored book, but really, god only knows. I don't think I took world history that year and I'm damn sure I didn't do homework on Friday nights. What else could I have been doing there at the kitchen table, though, with my back to the sliding patio door, the house quiet because, as usual, just the two of us were home? It had to be homework. I remember how empty and quiet the house was, how it felt the way it felt whenever we were alone because he was in the hospital. It felt different when we were alone because they were at work, or went to town, or went to the store. But when they were in the hospital...
I was scared.
I was sick and I couldn't drive and I lived way out in the country.
I could barely walk, although my health had gotten much better at that point.
The horses might get loose and I have to catch them.
The dogs might drag up a dead possum and I'd have to go out and try to pick it up with a pitchfork and throw it over the fence.
The pump might freeze, as it often did then, and I'd have to go shut off the water and call my uncle.
I wasn't alone though....
My uncle lived up the hill, 1/8 mile away, and I could have called him for anything. (I frequently did -- everything from shutting off the water because the pipes under the sink were leaking to helping me take care of the horses)
My grandparents were in town, 5 miles away. My grandpa was also dying in earnest then, so their ability to help was limited, but they were still able to do things like pick me up and take me to town. My little sister stayed with them whenever we were gone for a long period of time.
My friend Amy lived in town and I could call her. She was about 30 and a police officer, so I felt pretty safe when she was around. But, now I think she didn't start hanging around until after he died. She was around, but not every night like she was that summer.
I still feel unsettled in an empty house. I like being alone, but the feeling that the world outside is something slightly sinister and filled with battles that I'm too weak to fight still creeps up on me. That knock at the door is going to be bad news -- when the world comes back, you'll have to be "on." That feeling can creep up at nights that I'm alone in the house and hubby is working in the office. I wish to god I'd been facing the goddamn patio door -- I feel like I would have had some warning.
As I get older, that feeling only comes back once in awhile -- when my mom or stepdad or hubby or sisters get sick, or go to the doctor for some sort of tests, or when hubby is out too long and doesn't call. It comes every now and then....
This time around hasn't been so bad though. It wasn't like last year when I ran to get away from it and it still managed to find me in a hotel in Tahoe. I miss him. I want to do something -- light a candle or something at 9:30. I've been in bed all day, fighting a cold and catching up on my sleep.
I think I want hubby to leave for awhile so I can listen to music, light a candle, and maybe talk myself into crying, although I don't think I will cry.
I wish I believed in heaven, Dad. Wherever you are, I hope it's peaceful. You were always restless, I see you pacing and worried when I picture you. I think that you have a big brown lazy-boy and a direct TV system, and your bratty kid never argues with you over wanting to watch MTV while you want to watch ESPN.