Today has been a quiet day. I dropped Mom and Dad at the airport yesterday morning and came home to an empty house, though the post-travel grocery shopping and mound of laundry was a good distraction.
They were here for 3 weeks, and it was a good visit. Having gone two years without seeing each other, it was a much needed visit, too. My parents spent the first half of their European vacation on a Mediterranean cruise, and then a week and a half split between Rome and Florence with friends. The second half, they spent with Chris and I mostly in Germany, the last week taking all of us to Prague, Krakow, and then Boleslawiec for some Polish pottery shopping. My mom teared up as we hugged at the airport, and when I drove away, I did, too.
Today I keep finding myself staring off, my mind wandering back to the things I haven't really had the chance to think about lately at any length. Since the beginning of May it's been all go-go-go. Honestly, since a few months before then, when the real planning for New Zealand and Hong Kong picked up, there's been a steady hum of psychological noise. Planning, then the big trip, which was amazing (and still hardly blogged). Then we came home to a quieted house, but the kind of quiet that breaks your heart because somebody's missing. Dealing with that loss and readjusting to normal life, while preparing to say goodbye to more friends on the move did well to keep me busy, and then as soon as that began to quiet back down it was time to pick up my parents for a much anticipated visit. It's all been wonderful and I miss them already, my parents. We had a great time and it was just nice to see them every day for a stretch. I'm missing my friends, too. And today in the quiet, I'm itching to write.
The little writing I got done between getting home from the NZ/HK trip and welcoming Mom and Dad was less therapeutic and more pressured, as I knew it'd take me a while to get through the whole trip and once I lose focus, there's no real guarantee it'll return in a timely fashion, if ever. I participated in a couple of writing sessions with my fellow writers in the area during their visit, and although those were productive and fantastic, they were also structured and in the company of others. Today it's just me in an empty house, watching the sun slip behind the heavy, grey clouds and then peak out again from time to time through the windows. My parents have gone back home. Several good friends suddenly don't live here anymore. For the first time in 16 years, there's no one wagging her tail to greet me when I come home. Today is just quiet, and my heart is really feeling the weight of it.
When Heidi passed away I was in a hurry to deal with it and move on. Maybe that was just me not wanting to hurt. I didn't know what to expect, but at first I thought I'd done a fairly good job of accepting the inevitable, honoring her life and memory, and getting on to life without her. Maybe my subconscience knew I couldn't deal with it all at once, but for whatever reason, I went a little dead emotionally. I felt nothing, which was an entirely new phenomenon for me as no one has ever accused me of lacking sensitivity or emotion. Quite the opposite. What was most strange was knowing how I would naturally react to certain things and situations, catching myself acting it out, but not feeling it inside. I was pretending, but not entirely because if I had a functioning emotional heart that's how I would be reacting. Does that make sense? It's like once I stopped crying at the drop of Heidi's name, I was kind of stopped up inside. My closest friend in Europe moves away, I actually help her and her family onto their train with their luggage and everything, and I shed not one tear. I could feel that somewhere deep down I was crying, just not where anyone could see. It should be said that I expected nothing short of a disgusting and snotty sob fest when this day came, so I startled myself when all I could give was a smile and a wave as they pulled out of the train station. What's wrong with me?! They call it grief, I suppose. And whereas I thought I was taking Heidi's death very well and rolling on, it seems the deeper part of me had other plans. I said goodbye to two more friends after Diane left on the train that day, and nothing. But something happened when my parents were here the first week. We were talking about Heidi (my parents loved her nearly as much as I did), and in mid-sentence my voice cracked and I actually had to take a minute to reel it back in. Maybe I'm not doomed to apathy, after all. After that, I found myself looking at Heidi's pictures at night, the one on the bookshelf of her in her Gators jersey, or the one of her big smile that sits on my night stand, her ashes inside the box of the frame. I'm not back to bursts of tears, but I'm feeling it again, and that's something. How does something so small leave such a gaping hole? I can actually feel it aching inside, this void of space loving her and taking care of her filled so well. But I suppose this is good, another step in the process. There have been days already when I've felt completely ready to adopt a new family member of the furry kind, anxious to have that kind of presence in our lives and our home again. But today in the quiet, I don't think I'm ready, because I don't think I'm done with whatever I have to get through to really say goodbye to her. I could accept from the beginning that her life had run its course, her body well-worn and tired, but emotionally accepting is something different. I miss her. I know there are far worse things in the world to hang onto, people who have lost more than I could ever imagine, but for right now, she deserves my grief and my broken heart because she is worth at least that much.
I hope to one day stop trying to rationalize my own feelings, but one thing at a time.