When the crying just doesn’t stop
FRIDAY, November 20 – At 8.17 in the morning I raise my arms. Via Facebook I let my friends know ‘that I’ve fixed two breakfasts and two lunches, taken the dog out, done two loads of laundry, signed school papers, had a bite to eat, got myself dressed (more or less), and am now about to take the boys to school. I am King! Thank God it’s Friday!’
On the way to school Eamonn says, ‘You know what, Papa, I feel like going over and playing with my friends, but I also want to stay with you.’
‘You should do what you’d rather do.’
But that was the whole problem. He didn’t know. I realized that this was an opportunity.
‘I’m glad to hear that you want to play with your friends. It makes me really happy.’
Since I had an appointment with Sander’s mentor, I left Eamonn behind on the playground. I took my time and got back just before the bell rang, in time to say goodbye. Believe it or not, he was playing with some other boys and enjoying himself. I waved, and he immediately came over to me and started complaining that there was never time enough to play.
His griping was music to my ears. I cycled home, whistling. Yes, we can! No worries about the rest of the day – everything is great. This moment is the icing on the cake, a cheery fly on the huge pile of shit that our life has become.
11:00 – ‘Hey, guys!’ I shout, as the two of them run up the stairs to their room.
‘I love you two!’
Eamonn: ‘Me, too!’
They’re happy. And so am I.
16:00 – Took Elsa for a long walk through the Amsterdam Woods, ending up in a spot I’d never seen before. Grassy slopes, rippling water in a long, narrow lake surrounded by leafy trees clad in an amazing variety of fall colors. Looked around, no one in sight. Nothing but the dazzling array of color. Elsa raced through piles of fallen leaves, scattering them in all directions. A lovely spot, so close to the city.
‘Okay,’ I said out loud, as I slowly turned in a circle. ‘Okay, if you’re near me, Jennifer, let me feel something.’ I continued to turn, opened myself to any and all conceivable dimensions beyond our earthly range of vision.
Nothing. Nothing at all.
I squatted, then went down on my knees and started to cry. Nothing. Crying about nothing. In the distance a light brown Labrador shot across the field in the direction of the water. A man and woman followed.
Elsa and I continued our walk. A sunny day.
19.45 – Overwhelmed. I just wrote ‘Missing you terribly’ on Jennifer’s Facebook wall
and there I sat, crying at the dining room table. Crying my eyes out. The boys were in the living room watching The Simpsons. It was a while before they noticed. Sander came in first. Then Eamonn. They both gave me a hug.
‘Was it all of a sudden too much for you?’ one of them asked.
‘Yeah. I couldn’t help myself.’
‘That happens to me, too, usually in the classroom,’ said Eamonn.
‘Usually during math.’
Sander said, ‘It happens to me, too. In the classroom.’
My tears were starting to dry.
‘You don’t cry all that long,’ said Sander. ‘I usually go on much longer.’
‘It feels good to be able to cry,’ I said.
Eamonn shoved his bowl closer to me. ‘You can have some of my peanuts.’
‘Thank you, Eamonn.’
He looked me in the face. ‘The first time I saw you cry was in the hospital, Papa.’
Sander jumped to his feet. ‘Yeah, you were really upset, weren’t you?’
No doubt about it. Who wouldn’t be? I’d just told the boys that their mother wasn’t ever going to wake up.
‘In the hospital, when you were crying and talking to us, your voice sounded really high,’ said Sander, and he started to laugh. I joined in the laughter and so did Eamonn, although more cautiously. Sander continued. ‘Actually, I wanted to laugh, there in the hospital, when I heard you talking so funny, but I didn’t because I knew it was the worst day of my life.’
Eamonn nodded. ‘That was the worst day of our life.’
‘In a real high, squeaky voice,’ I said, in a high, squeaky voice.
All three of us burst out laughing. We were aware of the absurdity of laughing about death, but that didn’t stop us.
Then it was back to The Simpsons and back to my writing. Eamonn came over and stood next to me. ‘Wow, you’ve already written a lot. You could make a book out of it.’
‘With all that crap in it?’
‘Yes, and then we could publish our speeches, remember, at the cremation.’
Well, why not?
‘You know what,’ said Eamonn, ‘I’m going to go get my computer, and then I’ll come and sit next to you.’