I just submitted a time card for a 50 hour week. (Too bad I’m back on salary, eh?)
Immediately after doing that I poured myself a long, cold hefeweizen and pondered the week. It was a doozie and I’m exhausted.
In many ways Kristin’s death has been harder for me than my mom’s death almost five years ago. Although I live a full 9 hours drive from my parents, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with Mom in her last few months (and years), and I was with her constantly in her last few weeks. My job at a nonprofit health education organization was demanding, but I had an incredibly compassionate and understanding boss and I’d amassed weeks and weeks of sick time, so taking time off to see Mom wasn't difficult. Once her decline was swift and steady, I stayed with her constantly, actively involved in “helping her die.”
Although I dropped everything to spend time with Kristin each time she came to Seattle for treatment over a period of three years, there was never enough time for us. Even the full day we spent at the Washington Athletic Club, sharing secrets and memories in the Jacuzzi until our fingers shriveled, and melting into long, therapeutic massages, passed with the blink of an eye, and then we waited for our next visit – which, because it also meant cancer treatments for Kristin, was always bittersweet.
Kristin and I talked on the phone quite a few times in the past few months, and a little over a month ago she told me in a too-slow and newly-stilted voice that April 16th would be a good time for me to fly to the Bay Area to visit her. But somehow I knew that she knew that we wouldn’t be saying goodbye in person. I believe that Kristin, who was so incredibly full of life, didn’t want me to see her absolutely full of death, and she chose that date intentionally so I’d remember her as she wanted me to remember her. (Having been so involved in Mom’s death, I tend to think of her as she was in her last weeks instead of as she was for most of my life. I hate that, but it is what it is.)
In the midst of 50 hours of managing five detailed Microsoft projects that the powers that be in my professional life consider of life and death importance, I got the news that my full-of-life friend was dead. But I couldn’t take a single second out because all my projects were at critical points this week and business accounts and dollars might be lost if I dropped a ball.
Business accounts and dollars might be lost.
Let’s talk about loss, because if I know anything about loss, it’s that losses of dollars and business accounts don’t mean a damn thing when you lost your dear friend. And even when I’m mourning the loss of my friend, I can’t drop balls at work. (Or I try my damndest not to, anyway.) So I worked at least as hard as usual this week, tending to every meeting request, every draft revision, and every layout design with a lump in my throat and tears welling up when I least expected them, but finishing the work.
Fortunately, I’m still working at home since I can’t walk on my own yet.
And speaking of not walking yet, that’s where the miniscule loss comes in. I had to give up my security blanket, my Wilson ball, my beloved knee-walker today. Seems it has become my “crutch” (so to speak) and I wasn’t putting enough weight on my
fortressed booted foot, opting to quickly fly around the house on my knee-walker rather than slowly hobble and shuffle around the house on my crutches. (Wouldn’t you?) I will miss it.
But I must heal and I must walk and I must move on, beyond losses big and small (and in-between… where does the loss of Tom’s job fall?). The weather report for the Seattle area this weekend is FINALLY for sunshine, and I fully intend to use that as a metaphor…