Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Mr. Miyagi Moment

I can't let the day end without acknowledging that Jeff died exactly one month ago today. I'm starting to appreciate just how much this is gonna suck.

I finally had my "Mr. Miyagi moment" tonight after I worked myself up into a sufficiently potent (and pathetic) mood of self-pity. First, I have to say that self-pity is hard for me to come by. My natural disposition is just stoic enough that I generally feel sorry for no one--and this includes myself. I mean, young parents die of cancer all the time. It is not an uncommon tragedy. And I dare say most of them leave their families in far worse positions than Jeff left us. We are fortunate to have enough food and money and medicine; I have a good job and nannies and a cleaning lady and more offers of help than I could ever accept. I have friends and neighbors who are extraordinarily rare in their generosity and overall helpfulness; my children are well-adjusted and happy; we are healthy; my kids will continue to live in the same house and go to the same school and have the same friends and teachers and bikes and bedrooms and backyard that they had before cancer ever invaded their lives.

And even when cancer came, it struggled for 21 months in the inhospitable atmosphere Jeff created for it and although it claimed his left leg and, ultimately, his life, it never claimed his wits or his pleasantness. Jeff was "Jeff" until the end. There was never a moment when he did not recognize us; never an instance of unconscious aggression; no scary memories of seizures. So, as terrible as it is and has been-- cancer and treatment and Jeff's death and the month that has followed have all been very humane considering the possibilities of what it could have been like, and what could have happened to us; and after considering what does happen to other young families who do not have all the blessings and good fortune and fairy dust that we apparently have. So, (before you wonder where I'm going with all this), these are just a few of the reasons why I find it hard to feel sorry for myself.

However, tonight was an exception. Today two of my dearest friends--married with kids-- mentioned that tonight was "date night" for them. The idea of a "date night" with my husband only emphasized how unmarried I am and how no night is "date night" for me. How there is no one to get dressed up for. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing to talk about and no one to listen. No one to point out the things on the menu that I might like. No one who'll pick-up the tab and pay with our money then drive us home to our house in our car. These thoughts especially stung because I spent "date night" crying through a dinner I ate at our kitchen table alone.

Aubrey had to babysit one of Regan's friends tonight and Regan was invited to come along. A friend brought dinner over, but by the time it arrived and we were done visiting (and by the time I got everything and everyone to the table), it was time for the girls to leave. They took their plates with them and Jack finished his dinner while I fed Finn. Only then, could I, myself, eat and by then Jack was in the basement watching a movie and Finn was playing on the floor. I was so exhausted and sad that I just started to sob. It concerned Finn enough that he came over and crawled in my lap and gave me a sweet baby hug. As I sat there eating and crying, it made me think of a scene from the move Karate Kid (which was one of Jeff's favorites, by the way). In it, Daniel quietly watches Mr. Miyagi mourn his dead wife on the anniversary of her death. Mr. Miyagi gazes at her candlelit picture as he sobs to her in Japanese--all while completely drunk.

Likewise, on the anniversary of Jeff's death (albeit the one-month anniversary) I indulged in my self-pitying ritual while I ate and cried and I had no excuse as good as utter drunkenness.

Hasn't anyone the decency to offer me a drink?



Dad said...

Hi honey! Just now got a blogger account set up for myself even tho I can't type but thought I would give it a shot. Just read your recent blog and I wanted to say that although I'm not a professional "shrink" I feel that you are still in "grieving" mode and that's OK,I dare say even normal. Time is a great healer and with the support system you have I know you will come out the other side of this tragedy just fine. I too suffered a "loss" of a different kind when your mother and I divorced. The loss of not getting to see my kids grow up on a day by day basis and becoming more of an "uncle dad" really hurt but the support of family and friends and most of all the passage of time got me through and so will you. Just take each day as it comes with all the "roller coaster" ride of emotions that will happen and NEVER forget how much I love you and how proud I am of the woman and mother you've become! Love, Dad

Scott said...

Hi Kelly...I got a grapie drink waiting for you. Karate Kid is one of my favorites. I know that scene well. Take care...see you soon!

mka said...

Hey, my bar is open most of the time. Come on down and have a cold one. Now go check your emails. Love, Mom

PJ said...

Thanks for the updates Kelly and family. I weep with you, laugh with you and love you from afar. I'm wishing for you: an overnight babysitter and a date night with some close friends who will let you drink it up and sleep it off.
Keep the emotions coming and trust that we are feeling them with you. All our love. PJ and family!

colleen J said...

Hi Kelly,
Not sure how supportive it is to hear from a stranger you've never met (this is probably only my 2nd or so comment on the blog though I've been a reader for a year or so), but I feel like I know you and your family very well even though it's strictly a one-way acquaintance, really. I am rooting for you and remember you and yours in my prayers every day. You give us all a lot of didactive value to "put in the bank" in the storyline you have continued to share. And, I think we can all figure out things we need to do differently and better through the narrative you offer. Thank you for sharing the very human element in your experiences this past month. I thought of Jeff this past weekend too :) Sincerely, Colleen Johnson

Tim Klein said...

Wax on, wax off.

I am one of Jeff's many cousins from his extended family.

I don't know if words can adequately express what anyone of us are feeling with the passing of Jeff. All I know is that there are times where it's going to hit home real hard that Jeff is not with us, and I tend to believe that it will be in those little day to day moments that it will hit most often. I think that is why it's important that family and friends help with the assistance of time. I don't think none of us will ever forget Jeff, nor should we, but I think he will continue to live with us in our hearts and memories.

Live your life the best you can, and take what each new day has to bring.

Keep us posted.


Terri said...

Like I have said before, but I'll say it again, "Everyday is a good day,some are just better than others."
Now, I too am not a shrink, but I feel that although you have your moments your emotions are still in check, you aren't loosing it. You aren't lying in bed crying all day not taking care of yourself or your kids. You are very strong and just like everything in life the human body too is made to adapt to situations, and right now you are in adjustment phase. I think that blogging is also good for you too at this phase.
Take Care and CALL ANYTIME you need!!!

Johnny said...

Johnny from seattle here...
Don't stop writing! Our battles are never over. I don't know if I have ever left anything here for you and Jeff before, but I have shared your tears, triumphs and tragedies!
Sometimes I think this cancer thing is the best thing that ever happened to me as it has forced me to apprecieate life, freinds and family for what they really are. And I, too, am blessed! It does not mitigate the pain, and maybe it makes it worse...
Nonetheless we, and our loved ones, are better for it. That I will take with me to the end!
I am a beer snob that likes wine!
What do you want?
We can both cry in our glasses AND celebrate the blessings of life!

Irene McGoldrick said...

Kelly, I was moved by your date night comments. I remember the feeling well. I have you in my thoughts as the holiday season approaches.

Please keep my walking support group in mind. Walk It Out. We meet the 4th Sat. of every month (Nov. 22) at 9:30am in the parking lot of the Hart Park Senior Center.

It might just be the 2 of us, it is hard to know.