Monday, March 07, 2005

A few observations...

...of a gloomy, melancholy, gray, and redundantly-described day. I apologize for the length. Writing helps me stay balanced. Your kind thoughts and words are very much appreciated. I wish I had a better way to thank you all for your kindness beyond simply throwing more words onto my site.

I'm not worthy

I still feel immersed in sadness. And despite this, I feel like I don't deserve to feel this way. He wasn't my direct relative, after all, and others in my extended family have experienced a clearly more significant loss: My mother lost a brother. My cousins lost a father and a grandfather. My aunt lost her husband. Yet I still feel sad. I suspect it's because he always reminded me so much of his father, my grandfather.

I know it's not PC to play favorites, but my zaideh (Yiddish for grandfather, and in my vernacular, an amazingly rich term of endearment) was always the one who stood out like a giant in my young life. My uncle reminded me more of him as the years wore on. From seeing him in photographs to having him kick my tail on a ski hill to listening to him talk to reading his writing, it was as if a chip of my grandfather lived on.

And now I feel as if another connection to the seeds that resulted in my generation has been lost. No, I didn't lose an immediate relative, and so I have no right to grieve as my mother does. Yet I feel a palpable loss regardless. I'm a writer, yet I have difficulty explaining this. Odd.

In no mood to be social

I spent a good part of the day immersed in writing as I tried to focus on the little, controllable aspects of my writer's world. I didn't much feel like talking to anybody, and simply smiled and shrugged my shoulders anytime anyone asked me the typical Monday-only question, "So, how was your weekend?"

No offense to them, but I had no interest in discussing my weekend. I figured anyone who reads my blog would eventually find out that way. Anyone else wouldn't really matter. (That sounds colder than it actually is. Truth be told, when I'm sad I simply want to be left alone. I need to work through life's challenges on my own. Only my wife and kids get to peer inside the chaos that is my world.)

The comfort of words

So I finished off my column over breakfast. It's a soft-focus piece that revolves around family. It made my wife cry, so it must be good (she's my ultimate litmus test for everything I write, and she'll cut me down to size if she thinks my writing doesn't hit the mark.) It felt cathartic to submit it, and I hope you enjoy reading it when it's published this Wednesday morning.

When I got to work, I tossed my headphones on, fired up the tunes and dug into my tech-focused articles that were deadlined for review later in the afternoon. The nice thing about analytically-oriented technology research and writing is its logical, dispassionate flow. Unlike Op-Ed, I don’t leave pieces of myself on the paper. I blasted through the process and delivered some nicely-tightened prose. That's likely because I was able to write about stuff that didn't twig any emotions. And that was just fine for a day like today.

When I spoke to my wife before leaving the office, she asked how I was feeling, and promised a big hug when I got home. Her tone of voice, always empathetic, somehow became even more so during that brief phone conversation. Sometimes, it's the simplest comforts that matter most. Actually, make that all the time. And she always gets it. Lucky me.


When it came time to tuck our munchkins in for the night, I crawled into our little guy's bed and lay under his fuzzy Spongebob Squarepants blanket as he carefully picked a book for me to read to him. As I finished the first book, he grabbed it from my hands and bounced off the bed to fetch another tome from his bookshelf. After he spent a couple of minutes softly talking himself through the next literary choice, he confidently announced that I would be reading four books to him tonight. He counted them out on his fingers to make sure I fully understood the deal. I would have been OK with ten, frankly.

He climbed into bed and tucked himself in next to me. I rather liked having his wiggling little form beside me, as it reaffirmed why this life thing is so precious. My heart still felt heavy, but I was immersed in my son's world, so it couldn't be all bad, right? I tried to hold onto him after I finished the second book. I know he didn't understand why I simply needed an extra Noah hug. But he eventually relented, and even planted a squishy kiss on my cheek. There is something about four-year-olds that just gets to me. Perhaps its their limitless blend of sweetness and innocence that convinces us that all can indeed be right with the world if we believe just hard enough.

A blast of reality

After the house settled down, I had to pick up a couple of things at the nearby grocery store. I've got to say I rather love its 24/7 schedule. Instead of driving the three blocks, I grabbed my coat, boots and associated woolies and set off for a quick walk. The weather, which had been very warm and slushy/wet all day, was firmly in free-fall. This meant everything had flash-frozen over. The winds were whipping wisps of snow along the black ice on the road as they turned my face numb and cut through my warm coat. I found myself incredibly aware of all of this, almost like a multi-lenses video camera, recording it all for later playback and analysis. It felt good to be outside despite the sting in my face.

On the way home, I walked around the block an extra time. Not for any reason beyond the fact that I could, and it felt reaffirming to feel one of winter's final blasts howling in my ears and driving shivers down my spine.

And onward…

That word, reaffirming, keeps popping back into my head. I think it's my way of convincing myself that life always finds a way to go on for those who are left behind. Tomorrow, then, I'll once again pick up my pen as I continue my quest of whatever it is that writers pursue. It's what the giants of my youth would expect me to do whether or not they were there to witness the result.


Wheelson said...

I have yet to deal with a significant loss in my family. My wife nearly died, but she didn't. My best friend in high school died last summer but it had been several years since we had spoken.

Anyway, you sharing the process you're going through as you deal with loss is comforting because it helps show some of us who read your words what it might be like. It's reassuring to hear about others going through these things and being sad, but making it through. Reading about your experiences today takes some of the fear out of how things might be for us as we await the day when we must deal with similar sadness.

Leanne said...

My heart and thoughts are with you and your family Carmi. Coming from a very large family and having a partner with an even larger family, I am all too familiar with loss. Take comfort in the things that bring a smile to your face, hug your wife and your children as much as necessary to help dull the ache, and take solice in the fact that every day will become that much easier.

Leanne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss, Carmi.
Yep, round and round we go. Sometimes we're up, sometimes down, but always moving forward.
Writing is a good friend during times like these.

*hugs* friend

Queen on the run said...

Ty for leaving such a lovely comment on my page. about your loss I wasn't aware that someone needed to be direct family for a loss to be felt when they passed.You evidently held some kind of connection with this man and his passing has had a tremendous impact on you.There is nothing wrong with that, and your beautiful writing will help you get through this time. I have enjoyed reading some of this stuff and will be back for more.

sede said...

Hi, and thank you for coming by my blog. I appreciate what you said.
I am sorry to hear of you losing your Uncle. No one but you is inside your head and can feel the pain you feel in the way that you feel it, and mourning can be good for you -- you will reflect on all the good and find a smile soon.
Take care

Chris Rachael Oseland said...

You have every right to your grief, Carmi. One does not have to be a first degree relative to feel pain and loss. I'm sure your mother and aunt and cousins are touched by the deapth of your feeling for him.

Love is our only guarenteed immortality. You live on in the memories of your family and friends after death. Your uncle has a strong legacy in you, one that will last through your lifetime and into the lives of your children. You should never feel ashamed of honoring his memory.

My deepest sympathies,
Chris Rachael Oseland

Suzanne said...

Continue to write, it helps to process your emotions.
Continue to find comfort in your family, and value each precious moment you have together.
Continue to share, because your words touch us all.
With deepest sympathies

Anonymous said...

My uncle committed suicide in July, and the grieving process is, of course, still playing out. I was driving down the road the other day, not really thinking of anything in particular, when it just suddenly hit me that I would not be seeing him again in this lifetime. I know what you mean about your grief and how it differs from your mom's. I can't imagine how my dad must feel that he lost his brother this way. And my grandparents - they can't even go to funerals right now.

I really enjoyed my visit to your blog, and I'm glad you posted on my site. I'll definitely be back to read more! =o)

Jack Steiner said...

Children are good medicine, they have a way of helping to make us all feel better.

Anonymous said...

I have spent the better part of the last 24 hours thinking about you, and time, and people. Today the lesson was balance. Something I need in recovery. it translates across the divide.

We all grieve, it does not matter the degree of separation. if someone impacted your life in some way, then why be questioned or question yourself on why you grieve.

Family means alot to you, I'll repeat myself. You must do what you must do on your journey. whatever that journey is. I admire your spirit and honesty. and the fact that you love your family as much as you do to share them with us.

Children all over the world should be so lucky to have a father like you. And you see, those MEN who once touched your life in "their" lives, now "they" will touch your children's lives including your own in ways you never imagined.

Peace be upon your house tonight.


riye said...

thanks for taking us on a tour of your emotional landscape - i eagerly await the next excusion.

Dean said...

People touch our lives deeply, whether we want to admit it or not. You have every right to grieve, and to be down. It's normal and natural, and has nothing to do with how close a relative he is. Was? Is.

I think back on all the people that are part of me now, people who taught me something, in whatever way they did so, and it's amazing. I may have the combined DNA of two people, but I've been shaped by bouncing off hundreds, maybe thousands, of others.