Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Can't even wish it were already tomorrow. (On Grief.)

There's this feeling I've had twice in my life. I think it can only really climb over my limbs in the night, because then you have to stop doing, but your brain can't fully man the wheel and start thinking enough for the awfulness to go away. The things that you witnessed in the daylight were not right; they hardly seemed real in the way that the Grand Canyon hardly seems real. In these times, my body feels an icy ache, and I can't even fathom what falling asleep might feel like. It's hard to breathe, but I don't worry about not breathing because I can't worry about anything. I'm too sad to worry. My brain searches in a wild-and-exhausted scrabble for something that feels solid, and for something to slow the thinking. Even the floor of a hospital room is solid, because you're in a place where people do things. Not many people really really think in a hospital. The mystery of sickness and pain suffocates a little, and the wasted suffering makes it hard to think, and the flourescent lighting snuffs out the real thinking that's left.

When I first felt this feeling, John Mayer sang a song called "Dreaming with a Broken Heart" that was perfect. John Mayer needs to wash his hair and probably make his bed. He's a mess. But his song was just how I felt. Well-played, plaintive piano is how this feeling sounds:

"When you're dreamin with a broken heart, the wakin' up is the hardest part. 
You roll outta bed, and down on your knees. 
And for a moment you can hardly breathe
wondering was she really here? Is she standing in my room?
No she's not. 'Cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone."

He even repeats it just right. When someone's gone, gone, horribly, awfully gone or changed or hurting, you have to repeat really simple things, and still expect them not to make sense until the chill slinks away and you forget the enormity of this so that you can live and brush your teeth and read your Shakespeare homework again. The first time I felt this feeling, I sat on the back porch and told the dog the simple things that I couldn't understand. It felt good that Marshall the Alaskan Malamute could "get" them in a dog way, but no more. I felt like I was only a few steps removed, understanding all of this in a human way, but no more.

In a time like this, you don't even want to wish it were tomorrow, because more of this wakefulness seems overwhelming. What are you to do?

Do I have to feel asleep with roses in my hand?
Would you get them if I did? 
No, you won't. 
'Cause you're gone, gone, gone, gone, gone.

(John wrote the song about a woman he loved, but I definitely pretend that it applies beyond his original context. I got the practice when he came out with "Your Body is a Wonderland" my freshman year of college, and I pretended the whole time that he wrote it about a communicative couple in a committed marital relationship. So Theology-of-the-Body of you, Mr. Mayer. Well done.)

Wondering could you stay, my love? Would you wake up by my side? 
No she can't. 'Cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone.

A great many things.

There are a great many things that you think to do when it's time to finish a final exam.

In the last three days, I've been tempted to:
make and decorate cake pops
create the world's best Pinterest board to win a Vespa from Kate Spade
start training for another marathon or some other halfs
survive on three hours of sleep a night
launch a full-scale overhaul of mental health services to medical students at Vanderbilt Medical School
weed the back yard
seed the front yard
join Catholic Match
get a nannying job
dip-dye a boring white dress
go into real estate
try yoga
iron fabrics I've never ironed before
spend money on really chic heels
paint on canvas
create my own Women and Gender Studies curriculum
make jewelry from vintage brooches
befriend the neighbor that is afraid of Catholics
ask the other neighbor if she stole the boxes off our porch
research language acquisition
tell people off
apologize to people
translate Love and Responsibility and present it to the American Psychological Association
finally mail wedding gifts, birthday cards, baby gifts, and newsy letters that have sat in my car/dresser/closet/work bag for days/months/years
read Introduction to the Devout Life
rearrange my furniture
write a list of all the phrases that I finally understood in revelatory fashion as an adult but should have realized earlier in life. (E.g. "The jury's still out." "Come to terms with it." Etc. Etc.)
learn Italian
learn Spanish

The list goes on. However, I would feel sheepish if it ended up longer than the research paper I'm supposed to be finishing.

You think I'm kidding.

Maybe I did succumb to the pressures of some of these temptations.

I totally weeded the yard. Howdjalikemenowww.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I am going to love him.

When my family decided to get our first pet without gills in the early '90s, my parents called a family meeting to discuss the responsibilities that accompany a new dog. We talked about the investment of time and money that Oreo, our dalmatian (who was just born, so new he was still spotless) would need. We delegated tasks according to each person's particular preference and talent.

Dad was a hard worker. He would scoop Oreo's poop.
Mom noticed what people needed. She would pick up Oreo's food from the Farm Service downtown.
Tala was diligent. She would feed and water Oreo every day.
Someone asked, "What will your job be, Hannah?"

And Hannah answered: "I will love him."