My emotions are the consistency of pulled pork without the benefit of barbeque sauce. A little dry? Naturally. Flavorless? That goes without saying.
The metaphor police should have arrested me ages ago.
It feels like it will take weeks before I’ve left this weekend. I hopped on a plane, struggled into a suit, stumbled into a funeral service, then reversed and ended up back where I started, all in three days. Herein lies the lesson: you can’t treat grief like a quickie in a public restroom; it’s a prolonged and painful affair. I am wide awake, but I have such a restless exhaustion that I’m not content moving or staying. “I’m so sorry about your grandfather,” the president of the company saccharinely sympathized over the phone Sunday. “Oh! You know! These things are inevitable,” I intoned like a mezzo-soprano on uppers. “Were you close?” He probed, checking off my #1 pet peeve of post-death queries. I would not be thrown. “Well, I felt closer to their basement, truthfully, because I cleaned it out.”
That must be true, because with every mention of their names, two images come to mind: the ’50’s lounge museum that was their basement and their rigid, makeup-smeared wax figure corpses straight from a Vincent Price film (and, thanks to the immortal remake, Paris Hilton pops to mind as well). In actuality, my grandfather and I communicated through smiles, chuckles and handshakes. Of the three best conversations I had with my grandmother, she was only coherent in one (the other two she was drunk and delirious with medication – not at the same time, mind). And yet I’m as empty as a carved pumpkin when I think about them.
But none of that explains the way I felt at the reception, when everyone had an endless stream of questions about “my adventures in New York.” Despite being visibly irritated at their verbal poking and prodding, on they went. So, in between plates and plates of roast beef, salad, rolls and glasses of Pinot Noir (nasty) I stacked up the last six months of my life and declared it the new centerpiece of the table. I felt really terrible then, because it just was not sufficient, as a life or as a centerpiece.
That night, as my sister, father and I went to Pick’n’Save for Peanut Butter Cup ice cream, I stomped on myself with a newfound furor. “Did you see their faces? They were severely disappointed and blatantly disapproving. I suppose I am a failure. I suppose I am.” They did their best to temporarily console me, considering we were just trying to get ice cream, for god’s sake, but the whole thing really threw me off – and I didn’t want to get on again – up until early this afternoon. My father, who is seriously the most complete version of God in man I have ever seen, sent me this:
It is so tempting to think that things going on in our lives are about us, and undoubtedly, some are. But probably less than we think and their significance or “purpose” is misinterpreted or misunderstood…In my opinion, you are doing exactly what God wants you to do… at this time. Your unrest should be examined to see if it is ego, envy or something else negative. If it is, shake it off and go forward to do what God has given you to do today. If you are being compelled to make a change or to do something to move toward change of some kind, for the right reason, then take the next step or look at alternative steps or read something related or talk to your old and wise father whose ramblings have some truth mixed with pointless and irrelevant stories. But be careful not to try to please people.
You are an incredible inspiration to so many just being who you are and letting God use you. He will never leave you, nor forsake you and will give you what you need to get you through those challenging times. Control what you can, examine your motives. Mother Theresa changed the world by picking up dying people from the streets of Calcutta. You can change the world by walking dogs if… thats what God has given you to do.
Your forever fan and ardent admirer,