06 August, 2014

Piles, sinkholes, and climbing out.

It's been a weird day.  I woke up early after a late night.  All day I've had a nagging desire to skip over what has to get done and make a phone call.  So much to get done, I really don't have time to go there. 

 I used to call every Saturday morning. Not because there was anything new to talk about but because it was a good way just to check in and make sure everything was okay.  

I called Dan earlier than usual this morning.  I woke him up.  And chitchatting with him was a great.  About nothing really: our schedules for the day, whether and what time we could talk tonight, a bit of politics and a bit of church talk: nothing of earth shattering importance. A good conversation nonetheless; but not really the one for which something deep inside of me is longing. Why? and Why today?

Every time I picked up the office phone, I considered twice the number to be dialed.  I still remember the number -- how weird is that?!  It was never my home phone number.  These days calling someone is choosing an icon from the phones screen.  But those 10 digits -- area code, town code, number -- still echo through my head. Numbers have always stuck in my head so that shouldn't surprise me; when I was just a puny 3 year old and was accidentally left at the lake, I was able to tell some tourist from New York City what my phone number was so she could call from the payphone and scold whomever answered the phone. 2269.  Just 4 digits then.  

0417.  That's the number.  255 the town code.  I wonder who would answer that phone number now. I see the number in my mind and my thoughts drift toward the wall phone in that kitchen. There were speakers plugged into it so everyone could hear every conversation, but most of all because the handset could never be loud enough.  Big, lit numbers replaced an old dial, the pale beige phone attached to the end of the upper cabinet over the end of the snack bar that divided the kitchen between work and dining space. Inside the cabinet and under the back side of the phone jack was a warm spot over the florescent lights on the underside of the cabinet; every night that warm spot held hearing aids with the battery case open so those tiny batteries would not wear themselves down.  Next to them, stacks of dishes -- unmatched and cracked -- that fed so many of us over the years.  And plastic tumblers that held ice tea with a splash of diet cola. Memory is a curse sometimes. 

I hadn't been clear about why this particular day this craziness popped into my head for the first time in a long time. Maybe because there's so much to do or maybe because it's a cool summer day.  When I accidentally put the cursor for the mouse over the bottom of the computer screen, however, it all became clear.  The date.  Another curse:  I cannot forget dates.  Yes.  It is August 6th. The first day of a long last 10 days.

It's been a long time since I've dialed those 10 digits and called.  And longer since I was there.  But it was on this date that I arrived for the last time.  The long, sandy driveway covered in crushed oyster and quahog shells, the buoy and lobster pot markers hanging off the rail of the deck, the bristly Cape Cod grass under my bare feet, and the faint smell of musty, marshy saltwater bogs.  Bikes were on the back of the minivan to keep two teenage boys occupied while I spent days cooking and caring.  Those last days I spent with my dying mother.  

Don't ever believe that the pain of a loss leaves or heals; that is a lie.  The pain is there forever; we just learn to live with it.  With time we learn to jump over that hole, or walk around it in our travels. But it's always there, lurking and luring.   But even now -- 13 years later -- I've fallen into it again today by just looking at a date on a tiny calendar in the corner of my computer screen.  

So with stacks of paper and even more digital stuff piled on my desk and desktop, I've stopped to assess how deeply I've fallen into an old wound, and process a plan to climb over the memories, through the streams of thought and tears, and back onto the road of the living.  And assess the real value of that stack of things to be done.

Perhaps it is time to leave the stacks where they are and go for a walk on this lovely August evening.  It will all still be there in the morning, but the evening will pass.  Yes. The evening is more important.