For you, the dress code is casual.

Friday, October 12, 2007

From Flighty to Deep in 60 Seconds or Less

Writing is organic. It's about starting with something and ending in a completely other place. Sure, you can plot your way through and stick to the gameplan, but there are times when just starting anywhere can take you pretty mind-boggling places. This is an example of that. I had no idea this was going where it went, and now with tear-stained cheeks coupled with a sadly strange little smile, I feel I've lifted a pretty heady load. If you're into writing, don't be afraid to go where it takes you. Anyhow. This gets intense, so if you're looking for sunshine and bubblegum, maybe you're better off heading down Sesame Street way, 'cos this ain't for you.

Yay, me. In case you missed that, YAY, ME!

I dunno. Just liking life tonight. This is good. The return to the old job is good now that I've cleared the stupid corporate-dream notions from my head that had fucked so much with my well-being. I was watching a show last night in which one of the protagonists commented something to the effect of, "It seems the older I get, the more I realize that everything I want is everything I had."

So, like, yeah. I'm there. Not entirely true, of course, because who I was isn't who I want to be anymore, not really. Some aspects of who I was have been sorely missed -- the days spent wandering record shops, hiking on the North Shore, stuff like that -- but the life I'm after is akin to the life I had, but with a whole new outlook, I guess.

I'm working hard -- HARD -- on my outlook. My old boss was a great lady, really top-notch as far as integrity and all that, but she was negative and seemed very unhappy about life (not all the time, though) and I guess I spent much of the summer really looking at that and looking at what I was becoming, and just realizing how wrong I was feeling about everything as a whole.

The hardest part about that, though, was that my old boss reminded me much of my mother towards the end of her life, how unhappy she had become, how bitter she grew and how angry she was at all the misfortune that seemed to come hurtling towards her. There's a big part of me that believes somehow that she attracted the cancer to her, and to this day that breaks my heart more than I'd ever care to admit. Being at that job kind of made me think far too much of such things, and far too often. Not good.

Being this happy tonight, for no apparent reason other than just being glad that I've spun my life into a far better direction, also fills me with a sadness that my mom had nothing of the kind in the year or two before her death.

Wow. Something pretty intense just washed over me. I just remembered the look in her eye on the Wednesday morning before I checked her into the hospital (which was Friday, so 16 days before she died). She was rendered very much incapacitated, which we would learn was because the tumours had grown so large, so fast they were crushing her organs and pressing on her spine (in a matter of weeks, too) so she was lying there on the sofa, and I was with a day off, so I sat on the floor next to her.

She was holding on to life so hard but I could see it in her eyes that something in her wanted to stop the fight. I looked at her and told her that if she needed to go, I would be strong enough to carry on, and that I'd rather she did what was best for her than worrying what was best for me, because hanging on for me and looking like she did then... well, that would be doing both of us some pretty horrific harm. I told her I'd look out for the family, and I'd keep her memory alive with my nephew, and that if he ever needed anyone, I'd be there for him. Let go, I told her. She squeezed my hand, then kissed it, said nothing, then we spoke of other things.

The spiral downwards after that was incredible. She bottomed out 24 hours later, and I was required to call her doctor at home to tell him that she couldn't keep fluids down and other bad things were happening. He told me she had to go to the hospital. That night, at about 9:00, was the last time she was ever at home.

The EMT guys hauled her out on a stretcher and told me she'd be fine, which was them blowing smoke out their asses as she looked far better than she really was. She told me she'd be fine, too, and that I should stay at home. I tried that, but at about 1:00am was overcome and hopped in my car, rushed off to emergency, and sat with her for the night. She brightened up so much when I walked into the sick bay at emergency and sat beside her.

Whew. I don't really want to write any more about that right now. There's about a half-dozen things revolving around her death that I've been waiting for the strength to write about, but I'm kidding myself if I think I'm there yet, even after eight years.

Suffice to say that the only thing good about a death like hers is, it makes you pretty fucking certain that death was the better of the options. One day, I'll tackle the rest of it. This is not that day.

But I guess why I began thinking about it is, I'm doing all the things she tried so hard to do -- changing her outlook, seizing the day, et al. And I'm succeeding where I can't help but believe she failed. She told me before her death that she admired my strength and wished more than anything that I'd never change my stubborn, driven ways. For a few years there, I lost grasp of that part of me. Truth be told, her death devastated me probably for at least the first five years after. It's hard to get over the loss of a hero.

Her weaknesses were understandable. That she was beaten before death wasn't her fault; the real estate market crashed and she lost her life savings by way of having to live on them for three years. In the years since her death, the real estate commission here in BC has changed the laws. Back then, you could only work in real estate. Picking up money elsewhere would result in losing your license, and the one thing she knew: she loved real estate. She died broke. Now, though, she would have been able to use her resources to get by in the lean times by taking in other income.

I'm both bitter and pleased about that.

Hmm. I've been thinking of her more this week. I don't know why. Just have. Maybe it has to do with Thanksgiving '98, when I took a look at her and thought "she won't be alive next year", then brushed that away and thought I was being ridiculous. I hope you never have to know what it's like to eyeball someone and be able to read in their vacant, hollow eyes that death seems a likely happenstance in the coming months. I was, however, more right than I'd ever have wanted to be. Something about that prescience haunts the hell out of me. What do you do when you're right about something like THAT, eh? What do you do when you're right about something like that, and you failed to do EVERYTHING in your power to prevent it?

Yeah, well, when you have a notion, you lemme know. Meanwhile, something about that'll always haunt me a little, but not as much as it could... I know her death had to happen for me to become the person I am. And that sucks, but it is what it is, and I'm happy with who I am. And I've said it before, I'll say it again... if I had to choose between her alive and me being the person I was then, versus her dead and me growing the way I've grown, well, hands down. Dead and now, you know? That's the choice. I would, however, like to have one more time with her at a pub with a plate of nachos and a pitcher of Guiness. THAT would be fantastic. (Our last time out was doing just that about 8 weeks before her death, when neither of us knew death was headed our way. Wonderful but vague memory.)

Sigh. I know she'd be happy as hell that I'm sitting around, drinking wine, being self-congratulatory, enjoying life, and planning my weekend to a T. She'd love that. She'd tell me it was the kind of thing she loved best about me, my want to be completely in the now, regardless of what others think.

So, I'm having a bitter-sweet moment. But I've written about something I didn't want to write about for the longest time. It gives me hope I might be able to face the rest of it and finally put a few demons to rest. There are much deeper crevasses to cross than this, though. I assure you.

But, for now, I've made progress. And I'm sad, yet proud. And I have a glass of wine waiting on me.

Tomorrow: turkey stock day, a gym visit, photography, nature, and some other self-indulgent things before I'm pressed with a very busy, very hectic week. And I have a few nice potentials looming on the horizon that I don't wish to jinx by writing about in advance. Maybe I can share soon, but for now I'll just savour the pleasing potentiality of all that is my life. And maybe miss my mom a little in the process, but that'll be a lifelong thing and I'm all right with that. (Beats the hell out of having a forgettable mother. How lucky I was.)

Hey, look. Letterman is on. Fantastic.