Questions Unasked

In the refrain of my last few years: the world lost another good one recently. (I am not, in fact, talking about John McCain, mind you. This one’s a little closer to home.)

I am both doing well and extremely sad- it’ll hit at weird times. Watering the plants. Picking tomatoes. Randomly this sense of such loss while I wash dishes. I’m fine though, don’t worry. Grief is the price come due for loving others, I get that. And it makes me think of the others I’ve lost too- which hasn’t happened before; this dredging up of all of them together. I’ll think about how I didn’t ask my uncle enough questions. And then I’ll realize I didn’t ask ANY of them enough questions.

How did my grandmother pick her children’s names? Her oldest son is named David- did she know he was the 7th David with our last name in the family line? Was the family name thing important, or was it just Catholic names are a limited pool to chose from? How’d she get into watching basketball? How’d she raise so many kids in a 3 bedroom house? How’d she ever mentally survive burying two daughters? Was she always so funny?

My uncle- that’s the problem with becoming pen pals with him as a kid- perpetually it seems he appeared in the world fully formed as an adult- springing from Zeus’s head like Athena, I imagine. The thought never actually occurred to me that he was a teenager once- so I never asked him anything about it. What did he do? How’d he get into journalism? Or like… what was his favorite pet when he was a kid? Or did he have any? Or how’d he get into golf. Or did he know how vital it was to an awkward child living so far away from him- who grew up as not the golden child of the family- to have someone who spent time writing her and thought she was great? That said child internalized that and held on to it, and unconsciously used it on the path to successful personhood?  I tried to tell him a few times, but I never asked him if he knew.

My father-in-law. He was a Golden Gloves boxer- and yet I never asked him about it? Why’d he stop and when? Why did he love horses so much? How did he end up so different from his siblings- just because he was the only boy, or what? Why so afraid of the doctor? Why so kind and funny when life hadn’t been to him? How’d he find that sweet spot for so long of “taking no shit but causing no harm?”

Or my grandfather… who I sat with late at night once and watched parliament on C-Span.  I remember how we laughed at the insults and barbs and… was a shoe actually thrown? That doesn’t seem too British, so it may just be the brain playing tricks. But I LOVE Churchill and so did Grandpa… but we never talked about him. We missed that conversation by about 5 years because I came to really like Churchill after grandpa was already gone.  Or his brother… Grandpa had a picture of himself, my grandmother, and his brother on the wall in his TV room… but I never asked him about him. How did his brother die? Why my grandfather left home so young as a teenager… I’ll never know.

I range between “God damn it I never asked enough” and “You can’t ever know someone’s complete life so don’t beat yourself up over it.” Back and forth like ping pong. It’s just… the missed opportunity to know someone better weighs heavy. Or maybe it’s the three volume book about Churchill I’m reading. Minutia and details on someone I never met, and yet I’m over here with just a handful of scraps and facts about the people I actually did.

I don’t know. I do know I am lucky.

When we were in the hospital with our oldest we met a dad of one of the other kids on the floor. Con man obviously pretending to be devoutly Christian. Begged money from us to buy his kid a Christmas gift. We gave him $20. I remember thinking- it isn’t only good people who’s children are sick. It isn’t only good people who are here with their dying children over Christmas. But our child was getting better and so we give $20 to someone who’s child was not because what the hell else could you do?

And so, in a similar vein to what I realized about humanity in that hospital; it isn’t only good people who die. To change the saying a bit- the graveyards are full of replaceable men. But man, how lucky am I that all of mine were good ones? That all of mine are the actual irreplaceable men in those graveyards?

I try to be grateful for the time I had with all of them. It’s a conscious effort to stay on that side of it, and not wallow because they’re gone. But i HAD them, they were there. How lucky to have had so many that were so good.

But god damn it- like, what was their favorite color? I know that for literally none of them… you see what I’m saying?

 

Major League Gun Control

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“Politicians… I go to you. I stick up for you. And you no help me now… I say fuck you Politicians. I do it myself.”

 

Here is to voting out EVERY goddamn worthless politician that fights harder to save embryos than our children. Who thinks outlawing the means of death for one will stop it but outlawing the other isn’t even worth trying.

Here is to ANYONE that can spend the infrastructure money to make our goddamn schools fortresses so I don’t have to glance sideways to just double check that a crazed gunman isn’t stalking up the elementary school steps where my 8 year old goes EVERY. FUCKING. TIME. I. DRIVE. BY. IT. Just you know, let’s at LEAST do that while we talk about fixing the problem itself.

Right to bear arms was instituted when we had muzzle loading guns- so go back to that. Everyone can have a muzzle loader. AR fucking 15s… not so mother fucking much.

And I am SORRY- we have pussy hat marches… and yet this keeps happening in our country?! Our marches should be bigger for this issue. What would those hats look like? Can you crochet a head wound?

My government doesn’t protect my children. They don’t protect your children. They. Don’t. Protect. Children.

What stone can I throw, what effort can I make, what horn can I blow…I guess lets recall that the walls of Jericho were felled by a horn (In that made up story) so maybe, if we blow the horn often enough and harder…

And so I say fuck you Jobu. I do it myself.

Loss Gloss Boss

Sigh.

So- I’m just going to put this out there to the universe that maybe if it could stop with the making-people-I-love-drop-dead shit that’d be great. What am I comfortable with putting on the page? Or can even verbalize? I guess that loss and grieving is ubiquitous and is just the payment we give for loving others? Sure. Why not.

I had a Dutch teacher (she used to bike 15 miles to class with one of her pet rats in a carrier and then teach the class in sweaty bike shorts. The rat would sit on her desk. College is weird.) who didn’t really ever feel a need to stay on the Dutch topic at hand and would often digress into Buddhist thinking/teaching she was mulling around. One Tuesday morning (Ma’am, it’s too damn early for this crap.) she was talking about how we should see the loss of a baby as equally tragic as a 90 year old who was one day away from death. That all life is weighted equally. And yeah… that’s a big nope. Nope, nope, nope, ye ol’ rat loving professor. In Dutch? Rat liefhebbende proffessor. (How did I only make a B in this class? It’s 60% English and conjugated like Yoda… sheesh)

But life potential, happiness conglomerated, and the opportunity of having experienced much outta a long lifetime- it DOES come into play. And the death too- not too painful, and not too sudden… It’s a complex formula that never quite gets us to a “good death” but it makes the loss easier if you know your grandmother lived life to the fullest. If she was 89. And had the opportunity to laugh hysterically with all the other wives of their RV traveling/gambling group at a male stripper in Vegas doing a basketball player routine that one time back in the 80s. And then tell her granddaughter about it all those years later. And many other, inappropriate and hysterical stories. No shrinking violet- life is too short to waste it being meek- I think that’s the main lesson I learned from her.

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Pfft. How great could she have been if she hadn’t taught her teenaged granddaughter to draw on a pair of eyebrows already?

She was a good one, that lady. I will miss her.

She was tiny but she was mighty.

And may my own toddler follow in her namesake’s footsteps with that same mirth flickering in her eyes all of her live long days.

Amen.

Loss

It doesn’t feel like real loss. Not yet.

Please know, I’d have shed the tears (borrowed from that future when it finally hits home) at your funeral, if I could have.
Would that have honored more than their lack?
I meant no disrespect.

But even facing you then the loss didn’t hit home. 
What did CS Lewis say? “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” And the loss is not a loss, because the body was just a body, I guess.

Perhaps when my mind is not set on being strong for my children, as my husband and I hold them tight and lead them through their grief, the loss will finally feel like loss, fully.

And yet… I move underwater the first time I am back in a grocery store.
I wish for Victorian mourning clothes.
So cashiers can stop asking me how my weekend was or if I’m having a nice day.
So that the black full skirt and pleated bodice and high neck would tell them all they need to know.
So instead of the chitchat they could grab my forearm briefly and squeeze it. And say nothing.

The world is fast and bustling and makes me want to go back and not honk at all the people who were too slow to accelerate when the light turns green.
I bet they were grieving.
I bet.

My loss is not a loss.
Not yet.
My loss is an idea, hurtling towards my reality.

 

 

 

The world lost a good man recently and his loss is all our loss.