Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Do You Have Any Friends, Melissa?"

I divided shiva responsibilities last week with my sister-in-law. So, characteristically, my version of shiva was to tell people, "Four o'clock? Okay, sure, I'll be reformatting my databases, but we can talk." Whereas hers was a big, noisy, cocktail party/networking event where half the people didn't even know the deceased.

I arrived there early last Tuesday night, and found myself in the middle of a small group of her boyfriend's business associates. We made small talk for a while, and then one woman asked me, in the tone you use to speak to a slow five-year-old, "Do you have any friends, Melissa?"

Geez, I thought, I can't look like that much of a geek!

I chuckled and said, "As a matter of fact, there are some people from out of town that I owe a visit." Thereby using the same subterfuge I used about boyfriends when I was 25...oh, he's not here because he's out of town. Right.

Except that it's true. There are people, both out of town and in, to whom I owe a visit, or a dinner, or coffee, or a movie, or any number of informal social events that I've been postponing for months with "We'll get together when this is all over." (Remember that one day when you're on your deathbed: To your loved ones, "this" equals "you" and the thing that will be "all over" is your life.)

And it's not as if Jim needed a lot of physical supervision when he was home. But he was often too sick to go out--not just out socially, but out of the house--and when you're a couple, you do a lot of couple things with other couples. So I would be the odd woman out with a couple or two, getting a premonition of What It Will Be Like When I'm Single Again. And not in the good way, folks.

Even without a sick partner, sometimes making the effort isn't worth...the effort. You come home from work, you're exhausted, there's stuff to do around the house and programs to watch, and oh please...not another wanna-be writer workshop at The New School! And besides, there's that built-in companion right there at home and you don't have to bother to clean the house or put on clean clothes or be civil.

The problem is, since you're not a sixteen-year-old who has band practice after school every day, before you know it you're stuck in a reclusive rut, even with the spouse. It was something that would have to have been handled anyway, and having the spouse die is like a cosmic tap on the shoulder that says: Handle It, Schmuck!

Like I don't have enough to handle right now. So it's another challenge: To slowly pick up some of the social threads I've dropped, and add a few more, and despite my anxieties at three AM, try not to go about it like a high school student sitting at the Loser's Table in the cafeteria. So far, there's a dinner and a dinner and a show and a lunch this week, interspersed with going back to my job and with the continued redoing of my little urban space. That's what the New Normal looks like so far, and I can't push it any faster than it's meant to go, or it'll be somebody else's normal.

"Of course, Melissa, she has friends. Even those she's never met." My condolences. Stumbled across your blog not long after my husband had a heart attack and died before my eyes. He was 49 and in seemingly good health! Will be two years in in September. How different for you, to watch the passing so slowly. Each hold their own forms of hell and loneliness. My wish for you is that those friends close to you can read your mind and know when to let you be, and when to drag you out into the world even when you just want to curl up and lick your wounds. It's a delicate balance. Sounds like you have a plan for moving forward. It's important. Sending supportive thoughts your way.
Judy, thank you!

It's tough either way, whether it's sudden or you've had time to prepare. Preparation was important, but once you're in the reality it's like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. But it's better than going off the deep end.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

nyc bloggers map