Friday, April 28, 2006

Family

Pt. XV

It was the worst time.

I spent the next few days at the hospital. I would go from watching my mother lay in agony to taking breaks to call my husband on a pay phone, where I’d spend anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours performing a sobbing, begging, pleading of song of please don’t leave me.

The hospital pay phone. Using my sister’s calling card because I had no money. To beg my husband not to leave me.

Yes, definitely the worst time.

I would come back to the room with red, wet eyes and my sister and mom would be annoyed with me for having been gone so long.

God, is she on the phone again?


Like I was 13 and talking to my girlfriends about the dance.

But what were they supposed to do? I told my dad that Dave had left me and he had zero idea how to handle it. Neither of us really wanted to talk about it. So we didn’t.

And really, my sisters were devastated and angry and hurt about Dave, but they were already devastated and angry and hurt. This was just another reason to cry.

* * * * * *

The next emotional hurdle would have killed me if I had had anything left to kill.

I have not made too great a mention of my family because I feel it’s intrusive, related or no.

I most certainly have not made great mention of my mom’s side of the family, not just because of intrusion but because we share a conflicted history and I do not want to fan those flames.

My mom had two sisters and a brother. My mom chose to move far away from her home state of Minnesota, and her parents and siblings did not. Why she moved, how that affected her relationship with her family, how they all got along – that’s all part of a complex history I don’t really know.

Family history. You know.

I do know there was a major falling out, though, because I had been present for it.

Seven years prior, my sisters and parents and I had gone to Minnesota to visit the family. It was a stressful visit and by the time we left, tempers were flaring, as what seemed like years of tension erupted in an argument to end all arguments.

My mother determined that she did not want to have anything to do with her sister, M, again. She then maintained civil but minimal contact with her parents; her brother cut off communications with her; and she remained close only with her sister, Jane. Me and my sisters followed suit. It was an incredibly emotional and painful subject that took years to adjust to.

Family history. You know.

So when my mom got sick, M started calling the house. I don’t know the chronology. I don’t know who had the conversations or how they went. It was going to be hard enough to have Jane visit – she was very close with my mom and hadn’t yet seen her, plus she couldn’t just be left alone in a strange house and strange state without company – but to have M and M’s daughters (my cousins) come? After seven years of?...and my mom not being able to talk about it?...how would she feel if she knew?...did she understand?

That visit in and of itself would have been enough to throw me into emotional turmoil even if my marriage was intact and my mom was perfectly healthy.

* * * * * *

So right. First Jane came. About three days after I discovered my husband was leaving me. Two weeks after my mom’s diagnosis. And because of how things shook out, I was the only one who could spend regular time with her. I loved my Aunt Jane tremendously (I’m Kiki Jane, by the way), but being her “tour guide” was going to be incredibly taxing. She was coming as a guest, more or less, and someone would have to take care of her, at least a little.

All I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and die. But I missed my Aunt Jane. Crazy Aunt Jane.

Still, it was so hard.

Late one evening, when I’d finally mustered the strength to call Hakuna to tell her what was going on, I called her from my parents’ living room. I was sitting on a chair with the phone to my ear and remember Jane coming downstairs to tell me that there was a bug in her room and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.

That is the kind of thing I still remember. That I had to end a gut-wrenching phone call about my divorce to go face down a bug. Because no one knew what to do anymore.

Life was not making a damn bit of sense.

* * * * * *

I remember taking Jane to see mom for the first time. I told her it would be hard, and to try and prepare. Calm face. I told Jane that I would think of an excuse to get her out of the room shortly after arriving so that she could cry.

It would go like this, using Jane as an example: It would take a second, but my mom would recognize Jane and be so happy to see her. Jane would try and look as normal as possible and as happy and chipper as ever. They’d say their hellos, their it's-so-good-to-see-yous, then Jane would put her purse down and take her coat off and I’d say, hey, Mom, I’m going to take Jane to get a cup of coffee, okay? We’ll be right back. And then we’d leave the room and break down completely.

How’s THAT for fucking Routine?

* * * * * *

At some point, David made the drive to New Hampshire for some reason. I cannot remember what, but it had to do with cats. Had I had them with me and did I then want him to take them? Why? Why was he there?

He stayed for all of 15 minutes. He met my aunts. He hugged my sister.

* * * * * *

It had been hard but good but weird and completely overwhelming to try and get my emotional arms around seeing previously "written-off" family. And when that trip was over, and the fam had flown home and I could finally have time to myself, I drove the five hours back to my for-sale house in Connecticut.

And wondered what the fuck I was going to do with the rest of my life.



6 comments:

  1. This is so moving, K. You MUST get a book contract and write about your life.

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  2. Moving and (as I know has been said) riveting. I literally left my house, went out, and checked upon coming back in. I am shameful, but seriously. The story is heartwrenching and good for you for putting it out there. Especially when it is doing you some sort of good.

    Now get back to writing the rest of it. Because I need it all.

    And, unrelated, "Hakuna," awesome, awesome name. Hawaiian?

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  3. Hakuna is from the song "Hakuna Matata" from Disney's "The Lion King". The word is my NTN handle and works nicely as an identity for Kiki's blog.

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  4. as ever, as much love as an IIF can send you is coming from me. You are my friend, I wish I could hug you from Seattle.

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  5. Haha, I thought of Hakuna Matata afterwards, and felt like a jerk.

    It still works out great though.

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