Life as an Extreme Sport

melancholy whirlwinds

When Dad came up with his ativan offering, we talked for a little bit. He’d obviously talked to Tracy, or just overheard us, and explained some of his choices, admitted some of the mistakes. Told me he’s going to fall apart after the funeral – I expect Tracy to crash some time between death and funeral, but if not, she’ll be apart after, as well.

I don’t know. I’m still angry. Tracy and I talked in the kitchen for a bit, alternating between the distance that used to exist between us, and close giggling over ghosts. She told me things I didn’t know, about it being important for Mom I was in school because of the past and something Mom did/didn’t do – I didn’t quite follow, and the only thing I can think of is that it must relate to the bad relationship I alluded to earlier, the one I wonder why she didn’t work harder to get me out of.

There is so much I’m losing. My history, the greater family history, the conversations she and I just never had. We’ve always had issues between us, there’s always been that thing there we don’t address – several elephants in the room. Maybe more accurate to say we were standing in the savannah, in the middle of a tribe.

I was supposed to come home in time to have at least a few of these conversations. For Mom and I to make as much peace as we could with one another. I was promised, I was promised, it’s the only reason I got back on that damned plane, and justifying it with saying it was important to Mom? Well, what about the needs of the living? Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the end run, what’s the consequence of pissing off Mom? The consequence of not doing it means I’m going to have to actively work to not allow a wedge to be driven between me and the rest of my family over this.

I could easily see myself, earlier, when I was sitting in here alone, typing and listening to Buddhist chants in an effort to calm down, just leaving. I can understand the impulse that made my aunt cut off all contact from the rest of the family after my maternal grandmother died. You just look at the collected list of hurts you’ve accumulated, and decide it’s time to stop accumulating, take what you need, and leave.

I was going to go for second best, and see if Timothy wanted to do something, and maybe if I could crash on his couch for the night. I was trying to figure out how I would get ahold of him when Dad came back upstairs a second time, telling me they were going to watch The Next Iron Chef with Mom, and I should join them.

I did, opting to take the time to eat, as well. But I sat silently and a bit apart, and admit that I resisted their efforts to pull me in to the conversation. Just going downstairs was a huge step for me – I actively contemplated not, just staying up here and reading or doing work or something. Even my “would you regret this later in life” test brought up a genuine shrug, an indication of just how hurt I am.

Maybe that’s what this all comes down to – hurt. Buddhism, after all, doesn’t consider anger a true emotion. It’s a masking emotion, hiding something you don’t want to face. Generally it’s fear, or hurt (and some people argue fear is a subset, and when we’re angry, it’s because we have been or are afraid of being hurt).

I’m afraid of what’s going to happen. I can feel the destructive potential of anger swirling in all of us, of resentments and frustrations and I’m afraid that without Mom holding us together, my family is going to shatter apart – and I’m frightened that my anger is so strong that I will be the cause.


By the by – I figure if I’m going to write this, I’m going to write all of it. I know we probably seem pretty amazing and calm, and yeah, I don’t even need to be pressed to say that I have an amazing family. But we’re under intense strain and pressure, and it would be a lie to only show the pulled together side, and ignore the pain and chaos that happens, too.

One comment

  1. After my grandfather died, my two uncles got into a screaming match over who gave my grandmother a certain Hummel, and therefore who got to keep it. My mother got dragged into it, corroborated one uncle – as it turns out, the calmer of the two – and the other one freaked out and stormed out of the house.

    My one cousin is still pissed at my mother for giving another cousin the snowblower.

    As you said, this kind of stuff goes with the territory. I’m just glad you guys are able to talk about it, too.

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