Just the facts, ma’am…

If I logged onto my work computer or my personal email, I could probably give you a fair estimation of my activities over the past three months.  Well, that ain’t gonna happen.  Today is Labor Day in the U.S. of A. and I’m definitely taking the day off.  My memory will have to suffice.

Moving into this house in a town not unknown to my family, in the same county, was a tough decision, an even tougher transition.  Once we moved, we realized in an unavoidable way, that we had moved stuff from four different houses/storage units.  Thank goodness we have a fall-down barn and the rainy season is still a few months away.  We had a garage sale this weekend and got rid of some of those things that have no important memories attached.  We have a little more space now to make this house our house.

The transition, hmmm, why was it so hard?  No one reason, to be sure.  Some undefinable.  Most indescribable.  Here are some that I recall.  I doubt I can fully articulate the difficulties I was unprepared to handle.  I’ll attempt a synopsis, and am likely to get carried away in details.  

The breaking away from the last place Owen lived is the most obvious, and was the most painful.  Now, I have to imagine the stairs he used to run down in a hurry to get to work; the kitchen he cooked in late at night; our coffee-talks with Lea on the back porch known as Arizona; and the living room he spent so much time in, typing away on the computer while listening to music and watching television.  The packing of Owen’s belongings was another.  Lea flew down for a few days to help me, and I’m certain I couldn’t have done it without her.  Thinking of all that is packed into a cedar chest, in my closet, in photo boxes, and in the large cardboard box in mine and Dave’s bedroom is a constant reminder that he doesn’t have a bedroom in this house.  Finding a place  for the furniture and personal effects of all five of us (Nat, Anna, and Ruby moved in with Dave and me), plus Owen’s things, was no easy task.  Not just because space was an issue, but because we had to figure out how we wanted to prioritize/coordinate/arrange our belongings in less space than the combined four houses.  (The four houses: Petaluma (Dave, Lea, Owen, me), Occidental (Nat, Anna, Ruby), Nat’s and Owen’s last apartment together (much of it was still in boxes in the Petaluma house), and Dave’s mom’s (the remains of which we had moved into a storage unit.  Phew, right there, I’m exhausted remembering.)   Then, there were those first few weeks we spent here.

Physical exhaustion, different schedules, and cohabitation – the strain there is self-evident.  Add on top of that, the constant conflict of feeling relief at not having to drive across the River twice a day to get to work, in conjunction with feeling like I’d abandoned my mission of finding out what happened to Owen, and you have a glimpse into my downward spiral.  

The spiral.  I wasn’t naive enough to believe that I would be all better with the passing of a year.  I wasn’t naive enough to believe that I would be all better now that I was surrounded by family on a daily basis.  I wasn’t naive enough to believe that I would be all better now that I needed to make a new home.  I was naive enough to believe I could continue to do all this while being a wife, mother, friend; participating full-tilt at work; and looking for ways to engage myself in projects and events that were meaningful, given my new me.  

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would post here, if I had the energy to write.  I spent a lot of time organizing the house.  I spent a lot of time figuring out how to be the best mom I could be for Nat in this post-Owen world.  I spent a lot of time wondering who I was and would become to Anna and Ruby.  I spent a lot of time worrying about how I could be an even tolerable wife to Dave, while hoping I could be a real partner again.  And, I spent a lot of time wishing I could quit putting “me” away every day in order to face the world outside this house.  I found myself living two lives – the one I lived in order to do my job well, and the one I lived in order to be a contributing member of my family.  I did not spend a lot of time wondering or worrying about how my friends saw me.  They saw me.  They stood by me, while I thrashed about inside my head and tore open the wounds on a regular basis.  I’m grateful I can count my family among my friends.     

I guess there’s no such thing as just the facts anymore.  The facts of the last three months are loaded.  The fact that we still don’t have facts about how Owen died, nor why…

The suitcase lid is closing in, as it often does when I go there.  I can’t put it away.  I can’t make it right.  I can’t forgive the people who know.  I can only close the lid for a moment.  But, those moments save my life.  The beauty of having a container for grief, is that it allows you to go on, even if the lid closes sometimes.

Things that save my life:

  • my family
  • my friends
  • my counselor
  • my job
  • my cats
  • my search for answers
  • this blog

Yes, this blog has helped save my life.  I started it on August 18, 2007, when a coworker came to my office in the early days after I returned to work, and asked if I had considered writing about Owen (he knew I wrote other stuff).  I said, yes I had, but I didn’t know in what format.  He showed me a former coworker’s site, one he wrote about his daughter after she died.  I was in.  Thank you, Rob Orsini, for daring to talk about Owen when few at work knew how, and for sharing with me the technical aspects of a blog when the last thing I wanted to do, was learn.  Thank you, Daniel Steinberg at Dear Elena, for being my blogging inspiration.  And, thank you, to all my family and friends in the blogosphere, for being there in the middle of the night (when sleep was a distant memory), for commenting here, and for writing your own blogs so that I could find them and get out of myself for a few minutes on each foray into your lives. I see you.

Song for the night:  True Colors,  Phil Collins (…when this world makes you crazy…)

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~ by Linda on September 1, 2008.

3 Responses to “Just the facts, ma’am…”

  1. linda, it is so very special to hear from you again. I walk this path with you, well i really kinda follow you.Thank-you for being an inspiration & sharing your life as hard as i know it is. I am always here for you if you need to release more. You are have & always will be in my daily thoughts. LOVE SANDY SHANES MOM ,. OWEN OWEN OWEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. It’s good to hear from you again. As I’ve read your blog over the months I’ve heard your inner struggle to become authentic in your post-Owen world. I’ve wept for you, prayed for you, laughed and smiled with you – and always been aware of your pain and your grief – and always hoped you will find an authentic inner peace.

    But nothing ever stays the same does it? The tide comes in, the tide goes out – and although we can put a toe in the waves of the sea – it is never the same water that laps us. The sea moves on, we move on, whether we like it or not it is inevitable.

    Wishing you Peace, and joy in your new home.

  3. Linda: Your true colors are beautiful…like a rainbow. Because you were unafraid to show your true colors, I was able to reveal and express mine. You have given me inspiration. You have taught me to look at things from all directions, and to stare fear right in the face, without flinching. To fight injustice with defiance and courage. To embrace our differences, while also respecting them.

    When this world makes me crazy, I know it makes you crazy too. Yet still we find the time to encourage each other, and even when we cannot, we are sure of each other’s presence in spirit and thought.

    Two travelers on a journey, seeking answers and understanding. When our paths crossed, it was an amazing gift. We shared campsites for awhile, and found spiritual nourishment in each other’s company. And though we journey on separate paths, we are enriched by our moments together. Your words are water to this weary traveler; may mine bring stars into your night sky. And across the distance, we join hands and hearts…

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