And Then I was Gone Again . . .

Too often we craft a narrative for our own lives. We convince ourselves it’s true. We take stock and look around at the world. Perhaps we tell ourselves that our own discontent is self absorbed, a First World problem.

But look at all you have they say. Blessed. They like to throw that word around, blessed.

There are tiny moments in which I see my good fortune. In the early morning light, golden, streaming in behind her blonde hair, all ethereal. Her baby breath in my face as she whispers, “Here Mama, you cuddle with my blankie.” She strokes my arm and crawls under the covers. My lips find the top of her head and I kiss her hair, soft as silk. I run my hands over her little warm body and rub her cold naked legs. “Stay under the covers and warm up,” I whisper back to her. She does. I try and memorize this moment. I know she’ll only lay silent next to me for a few moments. I wish we could stay like this all day.

She is perfection at three.

lsleep

The last nine months I have been lost in the woods. I have avoided, burned bridges, failed to maintain friendships. When a mother of small children decides to take care of herself, like really take care of herself, well, some things will suffer. I hadn’t realized that I’d barely kept contact with my own mother, until I flew alone to see her and she choked back tears while she asked me to just “Keep in contact.”

I hadn’t realized.

I sat in my son’s room the other night and listened as he explained in great detail the Lego world he’s endlessly crafting. I looked around and for the first time saw that he really is a boy now. His artwork hung everywhere, his Legos arranged meticulously. His creations positioned painstakingly with Scotch tape, miles of Scotch tape. I listen, really listen to him for the first time in too long. I wonder when I missed it, the transition. Where have I been?

I’ve been here but not really here.

I hadn’t realized.

I’ve been here, pouring the morning cereal and barking orders, packing lunches and loading backpacks, filing homework, getting into my workout clothes while I yell, “Put on your shoes! We’re leaving in fifteen minutes.”

“Ten minutes!”

“Five minutes!”

“Get in the car. NOW! Your sister’s already in the car!”

“But Moooooooom!” He whines refusing to leave whatever project he’s currently working on in his room.

The tiny voice in my head mutters, “Stop calling me that.”

And then I am gone.

Off on a plane, again. Other mothers I know see pictures of me on a beach and comment, “Another girls’ trip?”

It is not a girls’ trip.

I sit on my mother’s patio and drink coffee. We debate the election in circles. We try to make a game plan. I watch she and her husband bicker in an adorable fashion. I tease them mercilessly about being old retired people. I envy them. We all laugh. They drive me to lunch in their old Subaru.

carride

We eat Cuban food. Walk the beach. Run errands. Commiserate some more.

At night after they’ve gone to bed I stand at the mirror in their guest bathroom. I brush my teeth. I stare at myself in silence. The weight of it all finally hits me.

Hard.

I push back. I shake my head side to side in denial. “No,” the little voice whispers, “put your arms down and let it in.” Grief comes up behind me and wraps her arms around my middle. “What if I’m just going to have to live with this?” I ask her.

She doesn’t answer.

Days later I sit alone in a fancy hotel room in Clearwater. I watch the sunrise over the white sand beach. If you squint, it looks like snow.

sunrise

“How’s your day?” a friend texts.

“Awful.”

“Call me.”

I call.

I sob into the phone unable to speak. They listen.

“Are you writing? You need to do the damn thing! Get down to the beach. Have you been in the water yet? Get in the water!”

“I have. I was. I had to go back to the room….” my voice broken.

beach_feet

I spend the next twelve hours in that room. I never turn on the TV. I cry until the front of my shirt is wet. I write. I talk to friends. One friend makes me laugh until my belly hurts. The kind words of another make me cry even harder. I hang up the phone and feel surrounded by their love. I cry more. I lay on the bed and stare out the window as the sun slowly dips behind the ocean, families in silhouette playing on the beach. I open a bottle of cheap drugstore wine. I sit in the chair and start drinking on an empty stomach as the room grows dark. I order room service and eat a $30 cheese plate with my $8 wine. I finish the wine and leave the rest of the cheese out in the hallway.

window

I crawl into bed without brushing my teeth and pass out, exhausted, spent.

my_face

Done.

The next day I drive to the airport. On the bridge while stuck in traffic the biggest dragonfly I’ve ever seen keeps pace with my car. She stays right outside my window.

For miles and miles.

She guides me home.

5 thoughts on “And Then I was Gone Again . . .

  1. Annie – this is so beautiful; I would find it a most enjoyable read if it weren’t so darn painful. I’m glad that you were able to go and take this time in order to allow yourself to acknowledge the pain, and give in to it. I hope it was cathartic… It doesn’t matter the source of grief- it must be honored and validated. A year after Rick died, I was still working like a fiend to blot out any emotions that were threatening to swamp me, just keep going…and then I would beat myself up about feeling so low after so much time had passed. I stopped taking my antidepressant and voila- I was an emotional basket case and dangerously depressed. Talking with my Psych., I was encouraged to take a ” med holiday” And to acknowledge the sorrow and grief-and to go out and create some rituals that would provoke the sorrow-gosh there was no end to the waves of grief that shook me to the core. 18 years later and I still do this -the sad, grief stricken part of me is who I am- I have come to love that part of myself as it feels so much more rel than when I am on about pilot, going thru the motions. Ned then, look, I can write about it!
    You may think you didn’t get to write while you were in Fla. and you might think that was your purpose in making that trip; but it really wasn’t what it was all about, was it-wasn’t it more about rediscovering yourself and coming face to face with that part of yourself that is so sad, grieving for whatever many reasons there are out there, and realizing that it is your greatest gift-your sensitivity. And then you sat down and wrote…
    And I am swept away-thank you Annie for persevering -I love you and I sure love that mother of yours ( crying right now just thinking about what a great friend she was to me and how we can still pick up where we left off… Just don’t do it anywhere often enough! ( just a note on synchchronisticity…all week I have been seeing dragonflies – one came INTO the gallery here I was working and I had to help guide it out-then the Mexican artist brings in the fragile dragonfly figure with Frieda Kahlos head! I posted my Thanksgiving wish to all with multiple pix of the dragonfly and its symbolism in Native American lore. Very spiritual and sensitive… Sleep well Annie

    • And the award for ‘the one reader who actual understood this piece’ goes to . . . Kathie! Thank you, thank you for your kind words! I got an odd mixed bag of interpretations to this piece of writing, but you understood. Of course you did. This is one of the many reasons I love you. Your response was also beautifully written, not surprisingly. Miss you my dear

  2. Annie-I hope you don’t mind but I forwarded your blog to my darling daughter in law Jenny- ( I found that I couldn’t “share”on your blog, for whatever reason) – her comment was:” Idon’t know what to make of this blog-it feels like poetry”. I think that’s pretty powerful…

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