Cafe Hitch-hike


One complex passing

The days after. I remembered the chatter from when my birth father died in the fall of 1990. I was either a part of or heard many, many conversations about the deceased, their life and then death. People talked about their relationships with the deceased, and then their impressions about the deceased’s passing which led to larger realizations and questions:

He was only 37 years old and isn’t much older/younger than me. This means if he can go that early, then I certainly won’t be living forever.

Do I have plans in place for if I ever reach this state?

How have I been living my life? Do I need to do something different? If so, I better get cracking to make it happen.

...and these inquiries go on.

I made the rounds today. My family was on their better behavior, yet we also shared those tough questions and observations. I thought it was normal. While it was very draining to process, well... I sensed it was needed. We needed to blow off some steam and process what the hell just happened.

We weren’t huggy or affectionate towards each other, but I still sensed some love and togetherness under it all. We didn’t cry together, but everyone said they did in private (and did I). It wasn’t a happy time in a lot of respects, and it was very taxing to process, but... we all needed it.

My final stop was my mother’s place. She was starting to drink. She had a lot to say about a lot of things, and I heard her out. I could see how sad and lonely she felt. Her biggest frustration was the divisiveness among our family.

After parting with Mom for the night, I recalled the time my father died. I remembered that I felt so numb in the days after. All the conversations, people, tough emotions and thinking... I had to shut down temporarily just to get my bearings! After a few days or so, I felt numb. I compared to how I felt at that time, at age 17, with now. I could easily see how I got that way at the time, and didn’t blame myself one damn bit.

Now, it’s all so different. It’s not just my own stuff to manage. I now have my mom and family who are a part of this story. I am also wrapping up Uncle Joe’s matters. I am also starting to see that, motherfuck, this is a big change in my family life. My mother is close to retiring. My aunts and uncles are slowing down, they are not as feisty as they used to be.

Then, there is me, their little niece and daughter. Others took care of Joe in his last month when he was too frail to do anything. I chipped in with his final arrangements along with giving his eulogy and writing his obituary. I wasn’t a kid or the younger following or obeying the grownups. This was the first time I ever possessed authority within the family and on the same level as them. This was much different from my part from when we lived in our midwestern river valley in what now feels like another lifetime ago. It was then that I felt like so much more like an adult.

I realized this passing is much more complex than my father’s death and all the other ones I experienced. As I drove and thought of this, I felt so very tired and could see how I could fall numb. It was understandable for when I was 17 and it would especially be for now. I told my other Uncle J. after he lost his mother (my grandma) last year to do what he normally did, but to slow down and spend a little extra time at home to process what was happening. I decided it would be a great move for me to take my own advice once I returned home.

Home. I can’t wait to go home although I really am glad to be here. My friends here have been great, but I’m kind of half there and half not sometimes. I should say something so they don’t take it personally. I’ve been myself and even genuinely cheerful and funny, but still half-there. Part of it is so I don’t depress the hell out of them when I do get the chance to see them.

I now recall that bereavement is a very emotionally exhausting time for a multitude of reasons, and realize this is the most complex loss I’ve ever had. It’s not at all my uncle’s fault; if anything, his better traits make it better in some ways because it is what I remember the most. But, the proportion of the other things is high and I’ll have to grasp the better things he left to keep on going.

Man, I can’t wait to go home, see my bright apartment and relax with my dog. Maybe at the end of the year, I’ll take myself someplace nice in an attempt to recalibrate (it will probably take multiple ones). I can’t wait to say sayonara to Joe’s outstanding bills and also resolve whatever may be owed to him (if it is what I think it is, I’d like to divvy it among the 3 people who took care of him.). I can’t wait to fold back into my regular life, but I know it won’t be the same. With that in mind, I hope to fold well into my upgrade, hahahah. I also can’t wait to get my energy back and gosh, quietly rest in the arms of someone I trust.

Earlier this week, while my plane descended over some oil refineries outside of Houston, something whispered, ‘everything is going to change, and none of this will look the same.’

‘What,’ I asked, ‘Houston?’

‘Everything,’ it replied, and closed with a puckish but knowing smile.

downwind | upstream