Tuesday, August 04, 2009
How Do You Do
A low-grade sadness has underpinned my interactions with the world for the last few days. These activities include parties with visiting friends, to-do lists a mile long preparing for our wedding reception this Saturday, and our kitchen, which will hopefully be done in time. Is it pre-menstrual? Maybe it's this or that, I would say to Dylan, grabbing whatever event had most recently occurred. Not *exactly* depression, but melancholy.
In the last week I have had numerous intense conversations: about gender and sexuality, about divorce (a friend's possibly pending, not mine!) and previous family history (one of my brothers, with whom I am barely in contact and will not be at my reception, and his ex-wife), for starters. So any time any of those occurred, it seemed they might be the trigger. But I know how these things work - triggers are reminders, not establishers. Last night I "finally" had the conversation that made the "source" apparent.
Having an iPhone is a mixed blessing. I love having my to-do lists and contact with me always. For the most part it's kept me more in touch with myself and others. But last night, adding to our wedding reception list out at dinner with Dylan, I gave into the temptation to check my email. Dinner was done, not really a problem. Only two new messages - one from the mother of the son of the brother who is coming to the reception. She was writing to say that she and her son (my nephew and my brother's son) wouldn't be at the reception. They had a last minute offer to take a friend's cabin for the week, and would be back on Sunday, a day after the reception. She said she wished us the best, and was looking forward to seeing me in mid-August, when I will be visiting where they live.
My first reaction was pure anger. What?! We invited them months ago. I couldn't believe she'd back out last minute. It's not like he's a ring bearer, but he's family, so is she, for that matter. She wouldn't pull this kind of thing with *her* family of origin. I began to analyze it, trying not to take it personally, and Dylan warned me to back my brain off from it, let myself just feel. I had just texted the brother about something else - I texted him with this news, as well. He called back, just as we were leaving the restaurant. He had found out a couple of days ago, was waiting for her to tell me, as that is her responsibility. He was irate - and had told her as much.
We got home and as I folded laundry, I fumed. Finally, after piling through arguments I didn't want to have with her, because they were useless even if with base, I pulled out my computer and sent her a really straight-forward email. I said I was sorry if somehow I had not communicated how totally essential this party is, how it is not "just a reception," and what essential family members they are. That the "Hall" family is tiny, and not having him there to meet folks who have waited (some, a decade) to meet him - the godmother who married us, my in-laws, people visiting from as far as England was a big dissapoinment and possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I told her she has the right to make her own choices and the last thing I wish to do is to "guilt" her into bringing him, but that I didn't see why they couldn't cut the vacation a day short and come.
As I read out loud the part about "tiny family" I began to bawl. Dylan asked me if I wanted to keep reading it out loud, and I did - that always helps me to hear for certain what I am saying. Overnight I had many intense dreams - as I have been having for days - mostly about family. I woke with certainty that the low-grade melancholy is about exactly this. Was not caused by her email, but that cracked open the cause (and for this I am grateful to her): that having a reception, a wedding reception, my wedding reception, without parents, grandparents (all passed) or my brother and his son (we aren't to the point where my brother can come to something like this yet) is really painful. I knew that last year when we spontaneously "eloped" - we knew it would save some pain. Another godmother said at the time "Wow. You really dodged a bullet. That would have hurt like a bitch." Except for the part where this will also hurt like a bitch. Or already is hurting.
How do I do this? Like I have done everything else. With honesty. Not shutting off my feelings. Moving forward. Celebrating and also crying. Knowing I am not alone. Letting friends be family. Missing those who are missing but not lingering too long. Eating delicious food. Letting myself be held. Leaning on the family I do have. Appreciating Dylan. Resting and feeling. Feeling. Feeling the hole in the leaf and letting it be.