And here we go again. If I look like I am struggling – I am. I have come to recognize these signs so clearly and I am sure everyone who has been reading along can as well. However, I’ll try to struggle through the fog as best I can.
To be honest, my memories of the next year are a bit blurry. Some events stand out more than others, and the memory of my reactions to them stand out even more. D was a long time recuperating from Mono. He slept – a lot. I am the first to admit that I treated him poorly. And why? I honestly don’t know. The times we had previously shared together were so full of love and the desire to always be together. Yet when I came home from work I railed at him over every single detail. I got to the point where I never thought about his being sick - I only thought about myself. And I am so ashamed. Given the chance now I would take it all back. I would shower him with love and patience. I would have nursed him through the months it took for him to feel ‘normal’ again. Instead I screamed that my supper wasn’t ready! I screamed that the house wasn’t spotless! I screamed that I was working my ass off and then coming home to what!
And still he stayed.
And he endured that abuse that I heaped on his head with a front-end loader. And he refused to fight with me when I attacked. And that only made me angrier. I wanted to shout and stomp about and hurl sharp barbed words that would cut and wound. And I wanted to win! But he never said a word. He would close his mouth and look at me with eyes that betrayed an inner sorrow. And it was that inner sorrow that I wanted to flay to pieces so I could claim myself the conqueror.
And still he stayed.
At work my mother mocked my relationship with a ‘kid’ and berated me for having turned down Cid. The constant belittling only stopped when computer work needed to be done and D was called in to solve the problems. Then he was great. D on the other hand, always treated her with respect and kindness and patiently taught her how to use the new point of sale system. I listened as he gently laughed at her comments about being ‘too old to learn to use a computer’ and got her to admit that she was indeed smart enough to learn. In time his student proved him right.
I was still working 12-hour days for my mother’s business on a salary that didn’t increase even though I consistently put in those kinds of hours. I was now supporting three people in a huge house that I was renovating. Fortunately my nephew was out of school and working and I didn’t have to buy his clothes anymore. But I still fed him and D who was unable to work. I felt like I was living in a pressure cooker and the release valve was beginning to jiggle.
I kept in touch with my friend who had lost her daughter. Conversations with her over the phone never failed to leave me in tears and I was shocked when she came to visit me at work. She had lost an incredible amount of weight and her face was ravaged with her grief. Yet her attitude had me puzzled. She giggled like a little girl when she told me she spent every day at her daughter’s grave and that she took fresh rose petals daily to spread over the spot where her daughter rested. One day she drew me aside as if she was afraid someone else might hear – and told me she snuck into the cemetery every night before they locked the gates. She then spread her sleeping bag over the snow-covered grave and slept there. Her words shocked me, yet I held her tight and sobbed along with her, my worry giving way to our shared grief.
Her grief weighed on my mind and I found myself crying many times for her terrible loss. Anyone walking through the mall could often find us clinging to each other as we cried and cried each time she visited. Eventually the extent of her grief made me call her husband and ask him if he was aware of what was going on. I had not wanted to do this as I felt guilty about betraying her trust, and I knew his own grief was overwhelming. But my friend’s mental health was now becoming an issue. It wasn’t long before D and I were visiting her on the psyche ward at the hospital. And even though she stayed less than a week – at least she was now under someone’s care. However, her grief and mental anguish clung to my shoulders like a shroud and I couldn’t shake it.