You know, I don’t talk to my Dad a lot on the phone. And this last call was the first time that he was just too tired to even know what I was talking about and handed the phone off to one of his nurses. She was very kind, of course, but it just threw me.
I’ve written about my father’s dementia and Alzheimer's Disease a few times and I’m sure I will write about it again. It helps to write about it and share. Because it’s always sad and difficult when we can’t communicate. Especially since we communicate far less than I'd like and it's my fault. Maybe these kinds of moments are the ones I’ve been fearing and, therefore, don’t call as much as I should.
So I’m in some tears. He’s fine and he has round-the-clock care. I understand the difference between pity and compassion and I know that the emotions I’m having right now are for myself. I’ve read the books and practice yoga and take my mat-titude to my attitude and all that. But it doesn’t change the fact that it is hard to watch someone you love — especially someone who was virile enough to have beaten someone up if they treated you poorly — start to “lose it,” as they say.
It makes me feel untethered and unmoored. And it’s a bit of a reminder that we actually are untethered and unmoored. Like, it’s not just a feeling — it’s true. Life is so tender and precious. I love having perspective and yet perspective also makes me feel the big nebulosity of it all.
My husband got home from the store and is making us dinner. This is great. I’m going to have some wine. And probably soothe myself with various cheeses we brought home from Vermont last weekend.
And sometimes when I write or make music or perfume and then I come up for air and look at my husband and cat I feel bad because I spent time doing something else and I could have been spending this precious, tender, life-time with them, too. But I guess this is just how a lifetime is in all its beauty and pain and what-the-fuckiness, I believe is the high-spiritual term for these feelings. We burn to express ourselves during this life and then we burn for the anticipatory nostalgia and the time.
I’ve always been a seeker of balance but then I cope pretty well when things go awry. I think the key is allowing yourself time. And definitely allowing yourself feelings. They are messy. We might even get in arguments about them. But this is all part of just being authentic and living an authentic life.
I think of our sweet friend we saw this week who lost his wife (in her thirties) to cancer. In the middle of the night he booked a flight to come back here and to Shays, which is our Cheers!, in Harvard Square. He has the kindest heart and we toast with him several nights this week. We've been spending less time at this bar since he moved five years ago but we all came back to be with him. On our way to meet him we put ourselves in his shoes (or flip-flops, really), and shudder to think of losing each other so young or, really, ever.
I swim to the surface, out of writing this, to ask what my husband got from the store. Pork belly, peas, mushrooms, fiddleheads for risotto. That will be fattily mood-boosting and good. Somehow the fiddlehead season has been long this year and I wonder if it is because we had a long winter. Maybe there is some inherent balance, we can say, but then tell that to the wonderful man who lost his young wife. There is a lot to be said for just being present and not making sense. Let the head stay fiddled. Don't un-fiddle the head.
May your fiddlehead season be long, may your pork belly be sweet and gamey, may your smiles be achingly grand and may your tears fall softly and may they be heard.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.