The other day I arrived to work and immediately had to sign some bank paperwork for JVB, so she came into my office to harass me for it, and I was like, “How are you?” And she was like, “Welp, my grandma died last week. She was 97.” And I kind of thought to myself, “At least she was 97,” because sometimes in these situations these sorts of thoughts are among my first ones, which is shitty but also fairly unavoidable after having lost my infant son. But I didn’t say this aloud, because I haven’t lost ALL of my social skills. Yet. So instead, I was like, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” And she was like, “Well… She was 97 but, yeah, it’s sad.”
“Death is always sad,” I responded.
So after this, in excruciating detail, JVB described what it was like to watch her grandmother die over a three day time span right down to her final breath, even going as far as to act out said dying process. And this totally might have made some people uncomfortable (like the eyelids fluttering and exaggerated choking motions and gagging noises and the like), but I really didn’t mind.
And THEN, she went onto describe the process of getting her grandmother’s body ready for her funeral (and beyond), and I guess she and her mother went shopping for grandma and put a lot of thought into her final farewell outfit, right down to her underwear. “We thought about sending her up in a thong,” JVB stated matter-of-factly, “Because, I mean, it’s been like 50 years since she’s seen grandpa.”
We laughed at the prospect of heaven involving a racy romantic rendezvous, and I counted myself lucky to still have this friend who is so obviously unafraid of the topic of death.
This Tuesday Howie had his testicles removed. He survived the procedure, but he’s sulking around, probably because he’s in a heap of pain, so Mark keeps looking at him sympathetically commenting, “He looks like he lost his best friend,” to which I keep replying, “Or two of them…”
The day before Matthew’s birthday I was at the grocery store, and this cashier who I see all the time, because I’m a regular, was like, “You are such a young girl to always be looking so sad.” And instead of doing what I should have done and respond with, “My first son died two years ago tomorrow,” I just nodded solemnly. So she was like, “Do you have kids at home?” So I was like, “Yep.” And she was like, “You really do need to smile more.” Okay. Point taken. Or NOT.
Also, at this same grocery store, I ran into an acquaintance from our neighborhood who I haven’t seen since before Matthew died (though I know he knows about Matthew as he and Mark have seen each other since and had this discussion). So I was pushing Joel in the shopping cart, and this guy who looked mildly familiar was like, “Heyyyyy! Long time no see!” And then he shifted his gaze to Joel (at which point Joel started crying) and was like, “What’s his name?!” And I was like, “Oh – he has stranger anxiety…”
And I didn’t want to keep conversing, but this guy kind of stood there blocking my path to my favorite salad dressing, so I offered an obligatory, “How are you?” And he was like, “Great, we’re expecting a little guy just like him (he gestured towards Joel again) to arrive within the next couple of weeks!”
And all I could think was, “No. Actually not ‘just like him.’ Joel isn’t our first. We aren’t parents in the same way you are and will be. With this ‘little guy’ we never waited with the blind anticipation that you are currently displaying as you casually mention his imminent safe arrival to a long-lost-acquaintance in the middle of the salad dressing aisle in the grocery store on a hot sunny Tuesday afternoon.”
But instead I mustered, “Oh wow. How neat. Well he’s still fussy, so I better get going. Good luck with everything.” And then I proceeded to run into him in the Mexican food aisle and the dairy aisle and the frozen food section and the checkout line and the parking lot. (FML.) Maybe I need to stay away from this grocery store for a while…
A few days before Joel’s birthday party, we had our kitchen almost clean, so I didn’t want to cook, so Mark’s sister and I ran out to get some pizzas from Papa Murphy’s, and, when I was standing in Papa Murphy’s, some lady came running in excitedly shouting, “I’ve never been in a Papa John’s before!!!” So I told her, “Well, I guess you still haven’t made it…”
The other day my therapist suggested that I might have some phobias I am making worse by avoidance. He told me about a patient he once had who was so afraid of fish, she couldn’t even hold a fake fish, and she eventually had to quit her job in a seafood restaurant, and instead of taking some time to reflect (as I think he expected me to) I started laughing, but then I quickly stopped laughing as I realized someone could laugh at my problems in the same way I was laughing at this woman with the fish phobia.
Mark’s mom (IBS grandma) tells everyone she has IBS. Joel’s had two babysitters now, and Mark’s mom has told each of them of her struggles, and each of their responses have been, “Me too.” Like what in the eff? It seems as though IBS is very common.
I want to write about Matthew’s and Joel’s birthdays, and I will, but I’m still feeling hung over from the highly emotional July which I’ve just endured, which is why I’m just writing this thought dump post at the moment, but I figured I would share a tidbit about Joel’s Howie cake…
So Mark’s sister, Kathryn, asked if she could take the lead on the Howie cake, so I let her, because I have zero baking skills, so everything turned out better than expected, but at the end we had to do something for the tail, so Mark’s sister tried to use a piece of cake, and everyone thought the tail looked like a penis except for Mark’s mom who swore it looked like a tail.
So I asked Mark’s mom whether she ever sees things in nature that she thinks resemble penises, because I think it’s a fairly common occurrence, as I still have memories of 18-year-old me working a summer job at the Secretary of State’s Office processing notary applications with this 60-some-year-old woman named Becky, and one day Becky took a pork rind chip out of a bag and showed it to everyone, and, yeah… It was pretty definitive. But Mark’s mom continued to insist that, no…
But the vote was 5-1, penis, so we eventually had the idea to make the tail out of a banana and cover it with icing, and I think it looked like a normal-ish tail. But regardless, most who saw the cake claimed that they were enamored by Kathryn’s talent and insisted she could have a career in baking and designing dog cakes with banana tails, so I guess overall, it was a success.
It’s been fun to spend time with Kathryn this summer. She has come to visit a couple of times now, and we’ve bonded and made some great memories, one of my favorites being when I dropped her off at the airport in our Jeep a few weeks ago. I put the car in park and got out to help Kathryn with her bags and give her a hug, and the Jeep started rolling backwards into oncoming traffic, including a large airport shuttle, and towards a two story drop off overlooking a parking garage below, as one of the airport workers started shouting frantically and unintelligibly.
Even though I was on the driver’s side and in the best position to avert crisis, I froze (well, actually I tried to push the Jeep back into place before realizing that I could seriously be run over), but luckily Kathryn took action and jumped into the driver’s seat from the passenger’s side and slammed on the brakes right before the Jeep rolled in front of said airport shuttle, as its horn blared.
Kathryn kind of saved our lives, or I guess mine, that morning. Thanks, Kathryn.