Once again, I almost made this a private post, but I (apparently) stuck to my pact. Now it’s out there in all its glory. It makes me feel better to let it loose, but you are under no obligation to read it, no matter how much you love me. K?
Know what a calliope sounds like? (If you don’t, go here.) That joyful, slightly creepy, always manic music is how my brain feels.
I’m happy. I have a good life, a wonderful husband, good kids, adorable grandkids, a nice home. Lots of friends and family who love me. I’ve another book coming out in October. A fabulous literary agent shopping my masterpiece to publishers. I’m going to Europe in March with my parents and brothers. Day-to-day existence is full of writing and lunches with friends, floating in the pool. And laundry. I joke around on FB. I sparkle and shine and laugh. I seem fine. Like I’m adjusting. Processing. Living. And I am.
I know I’m obsessed with Stranger Things lately, but there is an Upside Down to the happiness. A world where all the light is dark, all the pure is tainted; a world where the monsters lurk. It squishes me, wrings every ounce of light out of me. It makes me feel like a fraud, because how in the hell can I, in any stretch of the imagination, even consider being happy when my son is gone? When I failed him so utterly? When he had it so hard and then died all alone? When he won’t get married and have children, a career. Such simple wants, my son had. It doesn’t matter if the choices I made, the things I did helped him to survive a few years more; it was all the things I did wrong that cost us him in the end.
My logical brain knows that’s all bullshit. It tells me I did all I could, his choices were on him, I fought harder for him than he did for himself. There isn’t a platitude I haven’t consoled myself with. It’s just when the Upside Down gets me, it gets me, and no amount of logic or love can set me free. Because no one knows how I feel. No one. Because I’m the one who who never gave up. I’m the one who took him to doctors and meetings and physical therapy sessions. I’m the one who brought him home again when the darkness fell so hard he couldn’t see. I’m the one who stood outside his door that morning, playful and hoping to make him smile, asking if he was alive in there. I’m the one who opened the door and found him. Me. Alone. I can’t unsee him lying there. I can’t unfeel that “NO!” ripped from my throat. The panicked 911. My son is dead. My son is dead. How did I miss the signs? How didn’t I know this was a possibility? I let down my guard. I got comfortable. “I got this. No problem. We’ve weathered worse.” There is nothing worse. Nothing.
And then there’s the no-feeling. That’s the worst of all. I’m happy, I guess. I’m sad, I guess. It all seems to have happened to someone else. “Oh, that’s a shame. Really sad.” It almost feels as if he was never here to begin with, as if he’s fading away and nothing I do can alter that. I can’t even cry. What am I crying for? I feel nothing.
These things hit me and sometimes last a moment, sometimes days. I’m exhausted. And really, that fucking calliope needs to shut the hell up, already.