Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not just another Fall weekend

I started a blog entry, messaged with my friend H., and really got going in my reply. Inspired, so to speak...

I have had an excessively lazy morning. I love it. Even though I was awakened by road work at 8:30am (For the love of Chr*st who starts ROAD WORK on a SUNDAY? The City of Toronto. That's who!)

I ran (ran/walked) 8k yesterday. I was ecstatic, even though I had to be very careful. But I did it in an hour, which made me even happier. And I enjoyed it--I ran down to the lake, where there was a kite-flying competition going on, and I just felt that perfect "at one" feeling that you sometimes get. So...yea. My eye is improving, my head is still precarious at times, and it's not nosy to ask about it. It's just a frustrating, odd condition, because 'really', "nothing" is wrong--some artery went a little crazy, and now it needs to be babied and watched and kind of pampered. It's a very diva-like artery.
I've missed running too, even though it hasn't been completely off the radar. However, in order to miss something, you must go away from it, and that's what we've done. And then, after you miss something, you often have a greater love for I right? That's where we're headed. Renewal. I'm sure of it.

This gorgeous, breezy fall weekend has been a good reminder of how searinlgy OVER hot our summer was, and how unenjoyable it made the outdoors. This weather is my favourite too, and as soon as I get out of these pajamas  I am putting the running gear back on and heading out. Nothing crazy, just me, some new songs, and no expectations.
It's a better place than I've been in July and August. 

I had dinner at my place last night with my sister and her kids. We had a great time, it was the first time I'd seen the kids since Maine. They talked about their Maine memories with shining eyes and lots of gestures. I assured them their boogie boards and oversized, American sand-toys (buckets, spades and a larger sand shovel with a pointy end and long handle) were being safely stowed at Mike's place. My nephew: "So they'll be there waiting for us next year!"  My niece concurred.
We talked about school. They played a shopping game.  We listened to music and danced.
I went home with my sister and the kids to her place, to help with bedtime. My nephew was riled up and my sensitive niece was clinging to me, upset by the discord her little brother was imposing on the evening. My sister put my nephew to bed and stayed with him in his room for a bit, talking to him quietly. I made sure my niece brushed her teeth and then we picked out a book to read in her room, from the over-stuffed bookshelves.

The Giving Tree.  Shel Silverstein.  A bright green cover, line drawings on the inside, sparse prose, and then, halfway through the book, when the boy grows up and moves away from the tree, me, in tears, upset at the turn the book has taken (did I buy this for them? Did I read it first? Have I ever read it? I don't remember the answer to any of these questions.)  I hid my tears, choked through a couple more pages, and then had my niece fill in some of the reading while I collected myself. My sister came in at this point to arrange things with the night-light, technical bed-time stuff that only she is privy too. She saw me crying. 
"What's wrong!?" she said, looking at me, surprised.
Me, trying to be composed, pointing at the book. 
"This is a really upsetting book!".
A look of weary knowing.
"Oh, I know," said my sister. Then she left the room. We finished reading.
After, I turned out the lights and my niece wanted to talk. The kinds of talks you can only have late at night with an auntie, where you ask burning questions about something that has obviously been on your mind for a while. Questions about your Papa. (Papa is what my niece and nephew called my father).
She starts with a lead-in she's used before.
"What happened to Papa?"
I answer, same answer as before.
"He got very sick, and then he died."
Her face, serious in the dark, the night-light reflecting the furious thinking going on.
"I think about Papa alot. I miss Papa. Why did he get sick?"
"He had cancer, remember?"
Solemn nod.
"Why did he have cancer?"
"He did something called smoking, which can sometimes cause cancer. You know, like when people smoke cigarettes?"
Another nod.
"I've seen people smoking. Mommy doesn't like it".
"Auntie doesn't like it either, it's really something you should never do." (I couldn't resist adding that in. And really, my dad's cancer could have been caused by a multitude of things. I was simplifying. Forgive me).
"Papa had a lump on his throat."
"Yes, that's called a tumour. It was part of the cancer."
Her next question was one that she's asked before.
"Is that going to happen to me?"
There is only one swift answer for this one.
"No. You're going to live a long, healthy, beautiful life."
Quiet pause.
"How did you know that Papa was dead?"
"I saw him. He didn't breathe anymore, and he didn't feel pain anymore. He went to a nice, safe place."
"Are you sure he's not still in that room, lying in that bed?" (this broke my heart. She worried about this. It was something she'd been thinking about. I thought about how his illness and suffering must have scared her. It scared me, and I have thirty-two years on her).
"He's not in that room anymore, sweetie. He went to heaven."
"What's heaven like?"
"No one really truly knows. It's a mystery. Do you know what a mystery is?"
"Yup. It's when you have to find out something you don't know, and you use clues."
(inwardly I love how simply she answered this. The definition of a childhood mystery; something external, a puzzle, a secret that needs unfolding.)
"Yes! You look for clues. I look for clues about Papa all the time."
My niece, my little poet, brightened at this.
"What kind of clues?"
"Like when I hear a song that Papa liked, or see a cartoon that Papa would have laughed at. When I pray to Papa."
"I pray to Papa too, at school" (ah the Catholic system).
"That's nice. Papa will love that. Papa will also love it if you get a good night sleep, okay?"

This conversation wrung me out, especially after the very emotional week I've had. Oddly, a bad 'grief' week, where the stress of my job, combined with my obsessive love of reading depressing books, had created the perfect storm for me to wallow for hours at a time, at home, alone in the evenings, tears freely falling.  But I was still glad to have the conversation. This isn't the whole thing obviously. I've done some paraphrasing. And my niece also mentioned another family member who had died only a few months before my father, an uncle of my brother-in-law, and she needed to know things about him, too. I filled her in as best I could.

I guess this conversation with my niece was a good reminder for me. I'm the adult, I can answer things as best I can, but I don't really have all the answers. I can put on a good front and then we can both retreat into our own minds, to turn the answers over and over again like a rubik's cube, the answer sometimes raising more questions.

Serious for a Sunday morning, I know. It's the autumn equinox, and my friend L. says that this is the time to write down your dreams, your goals and aspirations. I guess this is my way of writing them down. Truthfully, I haven't been doing much 'real' writing lately. I haven't even gone down the laundry list of my trip to Maine, my time in Conneticut, the death of Mike's beloved grandmother,
the feelings that the funeral stirred up in me. The new church, my three wishes. I remind myself there is time for all this writing--I don't have to do it all at once.

Enjoy Sunday...enjoy Fall. Our last respite from the winter coming our way, in this part of the world. The weather predictions for this fall are for a large amount of rainfall and mediate temperatures.
I look forward to it all.

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