Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vale of tears

All this time I haven't allowed myself to think of how this affects me. I've been thinking of how you lived, how you died, how you suffered, and the joy you had. All the rest is self-pity, I told myself. I cannot allow myself to wallow in it. My first duty is to you. I had to take it, for you. But now as I survey the remains of my life, it is a desolate landscape, indeed. How will I trudge through it? You were the only being I felt bound to live for. (In anger you told me once you were the contract I couldn't break - that much was true, although you were wrong that it was just duty that bound me to you.) As you did for me, I hoped. What now? Why continue to suffer through this vale of tears, when you have shown me how easy it is to leave it? Sure, I can tell myself it's still for you, but you don't exist anymore. And I don't know how to live for myself. We are mere animals, after all. If we cannot procreate, what sense is there in our existence. And it seems I got the terminator gene.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


So typical of you to throw away what others go to extreme lengths to preserve - life itself.  You threw away whatever privilege you had, and the comforts others hold so dear.  There was nothing to take away after you died, you had so few possessions, and those were expendable.  Nothing to tie you down.  You quoted Camus:

"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

I wish you could have borne it a little longer, for my sake.  But I understand that you couldn't.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The weight of your heart

350 grams.  So says the coroner's report.  Larger than the average range.  But you were so tall, you needed it to pump the blood all the way to your extremities.  Bruises on your body from the martial arts.   But otherwise perfectly healthy.  The drug that killed you was at a "relatively modest level" in your blood, but "in the potentially toxic range."  Death ruled accidental.  So you didn't want to die.  That's good.  It was all a stupid mistake.

"It wasn't me, I wasn't there...And it doesn't count 'cause I don't care." 

I forgive you.  I know you didn't intend it and I will gladly suffer the pain to know that you didn't know it was the end.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


"Time, so far from soothing the agonies of our past, may simply preserve and even intensify them."

 This is from a review of "The Tree of Life," which deals with the loss of a child in terms of its cosmic significance.  Not a bad attempt.  Not a good one either.  There was another movie I saw not long ago on the same topic.  It said a mother's grief never fades away, but feels like a brick you carry in your pocket, which you kind of become fond of and touch, because you don't have your child, but you have that.  It's all been said before.  What could I possibly add to it?  Just that it's not a sharp pain.  Not at all.  It's just always there, sometimes getting heavier, sometimes receding.  It's worse when I think of it as something that was not accidental, but maybe inevitable, when it's not something that was just inflicted on me, but something I had a part in.  Even if that was just bringing him into this world.  Bringing him into suffering.  Not that I regret it.  If I had a choice I would do it over.  That's it - I wish I had a do over.  But you never do with life.  That's the unbearable lightness of being.  

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”

Again, nothing original to say. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Saw the movie "Melancholia".  My reaction was "yeah, so what?  I already knew there is no point to anything."  My husband:  "it was about depression."  Me: "yeah, what's your point?"

Depression.  I've always thought of it as realism.  Smart people are depressed, because they see through things.  It doesn't mean they don't try.  But they know that in the end it's only sound and fury, signifying nothing.  My son was diagnosed with it when he was barely a teenager.  They put him on medication. The kind they issued warnings about only a few years later, because it leads to suicide in teens.  He didn't commit suicide, but he committed social suicide and got himself expelled from his prep school.  He said it made him not feel anything.  And he dumped the pills in the toilet one day.  I saw his point.  But why did I agree to it in the first place?  That is perhaps my biggest regret. It was his gateway drug.  I've always been leery of mind-altering substances myself - legal or illegal (the only time I tried pot I turned green and puked, and another time, just from the second-hand smoke).  He, on the other hand, probably tried everything he could get his hands on.  He almost died twice before.  Third time was the charm. 

But back to depression. It runs in the family.  My mother had it, my grandmother had it - along with migraines, they passed it on to me.  But at least I got some of my father's dogged get-on-with-it-ness.  My son got it from both sides.  Sometimes he blamed me for picking his father to procreate with (never the other way around).  It was useless pointing out that any other child I would have had would not have been HIM.  But I see his point - we have qualities that get exacerbated in our children.  My son's height for one - my own height was taken to arithmetic progression in him - he ended up at more than six and a half feet.  My depressive tendencies, as well.  To that he added anxiety.

In the movie the character of Kirsten Dunst, the depressed one, appeals to her mother, and tells her she's scared.  Her mother tells her everyone is and basically to get on with it. That cuts uncomfortably close to my own attitude.  But in the movie the world ends.  I'm longing for that ending.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


"After my father left us, my mother cried all her sad-sac tears into the meals she fed me and my brother.  All those tears are no good for a boy -- they sit in his stomach like broken glass, eating away at his strength. .... All her fears leaked into my brother’s dreams, and his heart became like an attic full of trapped animals."

This is from a story my son wrote a few years back.  It's about two brothers, one of whom dies.  The narrator is the survivor, obviously.   When I reread the story now it is so clear to me how he wanted to be the strong, cynical narrator, but was afraid he was the weak, sentimental brother - the dead one.

The portrait of the sad mother is damning to me, although I'm not divorced, nor had he ever seen me crying, except on his account.  But I know he blamed me for being sad.  Hell, he blamed me for bringing him into this world.  Now we're even.

In the story, the brother dies at war and is given a hero's funeral, but the narrator knows he really died of his own weakness and stupidity and he can't bear his mother's exalted mourning of him.

"People never remember the dead for who they were, everyone’s life becomes the television biopic of itself."

I am guilty of some of that.  I want people to remember the good in you.  I know you do, too.  You were all about the image.  People actually think you lived life to the fullest and were always happy.  I know better.  I remember all of you.  You are part of me.  Sometimes I feel the best part.

I got a tattoo in your memory.  I hate tattoos.  Your father hates me for getting it.  This morning I looked for it and stupidly missed seeing it for a moment and got scared.  But it's there.  It will always be there.  I can always look at it.  You didn't mark me in childbirth.  I was too young - my body bounced right back.  But you have marked my life.  I know you had many fears, but you never accepted living in fear.  Losing you was my all-consuming fear.  Now I am fearless.  But I have no life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Unconscious

As much as I try to be rational, to think life is finite and dying is not the worst thing that can happen to you, my unconscious seems to be rebelling.  Until recently I could sleep and not dream of my loss.  But now I've been waking up with tear-crusted eyes.  Last night I dreamed I had a fight with my mother, who's also not alive.  She was blaming me for not cleaning her house (not something she would do) and I was really upset and told her she never taught me how to clean a house.  But furthermore I was upset that we were arguing about something so stupid and I wanted to tell her that none of this matters now that my son is dead.  This mirrors a fight I had with my son three weeks before he died, except I was the child now.  He blamed me for not giving him guidance and inspiration.  Then he took it back, but I know he meant it.  I will always regret not saying more than I did then.  Though I did tell him I loved him more than anything, I never told him how proud I am to be his mother and how sorry I am that he's had to struggle so much.  (Does anyone ever do that?)  But that's not why I cry now.  I simply miss him.  My life doesn't make sense without him.