this post has taken far too long to write. i’ve been away. i’ve been processing. i’ve been mourning.
i didn’t cry for several days after martha’s death. which really surprised me, because i’m a crier. sure, i would well up from time to time, but no gush, no water-works, so sobbing. weird.
ummm…yeah. that’s what you call denial, hon. stage 1.
it finally hit me about 6 days after she died. i knew it would take something else upsetting me & it would all be released. what did it take? some major catastrophe? no, just a stressful day with 2 cranky kids in the heat that is new york in the summer, coming in late from the park, late for dinner for them, late for a cocktail for me, late for pretty much everything, including and especially grief. threw the tv on, threw dinner in front of them in front of the tv (it’s a ‘picnic’, see?) threw myself into the bathroom and burst into tears. fifteen solid minutes of sobbing and talking to myself and thank god for ‘caillou’ is all i can say.
it infuriates me and saddens me to my depths that this woman is dead. it’s ridiculous. it’s stupid and i hate it. and there’s nothing i can do. it’s too late. she’s buried somewhere in pennsylvania (why?) and there’s been no service here yet and none of us saw her for 3 months before she died and none of us except one of us even knew how sick she was, so none of us were prepared for her death at all. some of us didn’t even know she’d been sick at all. they were really thrown.
coincidentally, a party was planned. us ‘mothers who drink’ (MWD) as we like to call ourselves, usually meet once or twice a month at the local pub for a pint or a glass of wine or a really bad cosmo, but were going to have a house party because one of us muthas was going to be sans kids and hubby for a WHOLE WEEK and she was aimin’ to celebrate a little freedom. we were all pretty psyched. people cooked. i baked. someone mixed up a lethal bag of a certain mexican mixed drink and stuck it in her freezer. school let out, summer began and we were READY.
and then martha died. saturday night around nine the email arrived in our inboxes from her one friend who actually knew how bad it was. we called each other. we called friends who probably wouldn’t be reading their email over the weekend so they would know. i broke the news to one friend who’s daughter’s sixth birthday party was the next morning. we would all see each other and we didn’t want her to not know and totally ruin her daughter’s party with the news. that was one of the hardest sentences i’ve ever had to speak.
the birthday party happened, and we all kept it together for the kids’ sake. we even had a good time. everybody came. we needed to be together, even if we couldn’t really talk about anything there. we ate pizza and cake and sang happy birthday.
the next night was the MWD shindig and we all came out in force. we dressed up a little and put on some makeup for each other (bonehead move: mascara runs) and headed over to our hostess’ apartment with all our offerings (meatballs! quinoa salad! brownies! margaritas in a bag!). personally, i didn’t make it past the front door before i had to duck into the kitchen and get a hold of myself. but the drinks flowed and we all relaxed and we started to have a really good time. then, after about an hour or so, our gracious hostess steered us all into the living room, where we sat around for another hour telling stories about martha and tearing up and crying and laughing our asses off. martha was really, really smart and funny, and there were some great rememberances. (is that a word? it is now). essentially, we had a wake for her. which we all needed, really, really badly. it turned out to be a great party, as a good wake should. another blogging friend wrote about it here. (disclaimer: i did not partake in that bag o’ margaritas. no way. well, ok, i had a sip. but only a sip! tequila & i are not friends).
but martha and i were friends. and i am down here with all her other friends raising our glass to her in love and remembrance for a full life well lived. and the realization that life is beautiful and brief.
to that end, let the poets speak:
But because truly being here is so much; because everything here
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some way
keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.
Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, Ninth Duino Elegy
We got the news
Ithaca got snow
It was just that kind of day
All I know is that you’ve gone and left us here below
All I wish is that you’d stay
We leave this cursed city in the same way we come in
We trace the roads
On the way out, we shed our certainties like clothes
We thought this was our sacrifice
But the world knew otherwise
And took you from us
Before your time, right before our eyes
We think we’re walking home
But you can’t go there unless it wants you
You can stand on the streets
But still the destination haunts you
Is that where you are now?
To have believed that’s truest love
Ain’t it clever now that we have love and we don’t have you
It took this much to make me see
Still I barely understand
Love will always, always be larger and different than our plans
Love will never listen to us
And why should it?
Love knows the score
It builds better songs than we do
It sings a better metaphor
–Peter Mulvey, “Ithaca”