There have been more than a few moments in the past couple of weeks that have made me want to write stuff down… to document things I don’t want to forget about as I go through this process, but it took four inches of wet, heavy snow to keep me in my bed… drinking coffee from the I Heart NY mug… to get me to open up the computer… and procrastinate shoveling the more than a few inches of wet/heavy white stuff from the first significant snowfall. Yup, it’s beautiful… but I’m really not ready to start pushing it off of the driveway or to chisel out a hole at the end of it where the plows keep stacking it up into a nice wall of ice chunks as if a glacier just went rolling past. So, I’m just gonna jot down a few notes, drink my coffee, and rethink my decision to not get a snowblower (I don’t like the idea of having a 100 pound paper weight taking up space in the garage 352 days of the year… but they’re less expensive than four wheelers… and plow trucks).
A week ago I voted. It’s not that I’m proud of participating in my civic duty (which I am), but more the fact that when I walked in Candy and Kat (Cat?… I’m gonna go with the “C”… less confusing with the Kat/Kateri similarity) were there to check off my name and to take my ballot. The last time I saw them at town hall was when I went to vote in March after town meeting specifically to support the Visiting Nurses portion of the town budget because Kateri really wanted it to pass (it did… it always does). It was the first time I had met both of them, but I had met Cat’s wife/partner/person a few days earlier as I was trying to get an absentee ballot for Kateri. So Cat had already kinda heard about my situation and it just so happens that she is a wonderfully compassionate older lady who lives three houses down from me. Candy and her husband live a few more down the road… all of whom I don’t know well, but when it comes down to it… I know I can rely on them as neighbors, and as friends… and they can rely on me. I feel that way because when I walked in to Town Hall to vote last week… they both gave me a hug… Candy and I caught up on the shit pile in her life (cancer and loved ones)… and tears filled Cat’s eyes before she even said a word to me… or embraced me in her arms. Her empathy was overwhelming. The sense of community was overwhelming. This is where Kateri and I had decided to set roots… and these women showed me that we had made the right decision… as I am left here without my wife to figure out where and what home is. It was heartwarming. It felt… good.
There have been more than a few moments in the recent past that have made me feel good. It’s a strange thing to feel after months of nothing but the pile of… yup… shit. I mean, I have tried to see the beautiful things in life throughout this whole process, but I gotta say… the dark stuff, the rough stuff, the sad stuff are really what consumes your life as you try to just get to the next day. As those “next days” keep piling up, I have realized they are starting to get filled up with things other than just the memories that I’m surrounded by in my home, or evenings of contemplation of what the fuck to do… and how am I gonna survive this new independent life, or the crushing weight of losing Kateri (I miss her…. so much). Those “next days” are filled with new experiences… experiences without Kateri… and that is a hard thing to come to terms with.
I shaved my head the other night (that’s just my hairdo… I haven’t paid for a haircut in seventeen years), looked in the mirror… and didn’t recognize myself. You wanna talk about a fucked up thing to go through… well… it was fucked up. It could have been the fact that my beard is the longest it has ever been coupled with the newly trimmed noggin. It could have been the fact that it was the first time I shaved my head in the bathroom after working on it for over a year… a bathroom in which Kateri put the first hole in the wall and I was now cleaning up little pieces of hair from a sink and tiled floor in a whole new life. A floor I tiled in the early morning hours over the course of three nights while Kateri was in the hospital… Maria being there by her side for her… while I did whatever I needed to do before Kateri was discharged with gastrointestinal issues from the immunotherapy. A floor I needed to learn how to tile for the simple fact that my wife needed a toilet upstairs so that she could sleep in her own bed. Staring at myself in the mirror… looking into my own eyes for the first time in a while… it was hard to deal with all the emotions that came flooding in as I recognized that specific point in the timeline… that life is different… but I couldn’t recognize myself. To my core… I am different… I have changed, because my life has changed. I cried… a lot…. as I leaned on the sink and didn’t move as I searched in those eyes for understanding to what was going on, but never really got an answer. So what do you do? Well, I took a shower to remove those little bits of hair from my shoulders, beard, and body… put on some comfy clothes… texted with a friend… and waited for the “next day” to come.
Life as we know it may change, but as long as we are here… it doesn’t stop… whether we want it to or not. Sometimes, you just have to shovel the driveway. And sometimes… you have to do it alone.
Bloggery Post Addition…
Although it is very satisfying shoveling a long driveway and I’m always filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment once it’s all said and done… I currently refuse to attach the word “healthy” to the task. (ya, ya, ya… it felt good to be outside and in the fresh air)