My daughter graduated from high school Saturday evening. Because she is a 4.0 scholar, she was up on the special podium with all the speakers, class officers, valedictorian, salutatorian, principal, superintendent, etc. People keep saying, "You did a great job raising her!" I keep saying to these people, "She did this all herself. She chose to work this hard. We just fed and watered her and kept her clean."
OK. I haven't really thought to say that until just now as I write this post (directly into the window as usual).
I'm struggling today. I truly woke up Saturday a different woman. My role is shifting, and though I know my Girl still needs me, will return home often, actually enjoys my company, my day-to-day, hands-on, "Mom do you know where my blue shirt with the narwhal on it is?" days are nearly over.
I can hardly stand it, so I'm trying to think about other things including a performance I'm giving Saturday at the Columbus Arts Festival. First of the poets on the Word is Art stage (that I'm first indicates I came in last of all those accepted after auditions, though I'm not sure about that. That I'm on the stage at all is a great privilege. The other spoken word poets are incredible. I'm in awe and feel honored to be there). I need to select and time the poems I'll read. I'm also trying to go through the mounds of clean but never folded or hung up laundry in my bedroom, some mine, some my Girl's. I'm throwing away ratty clothes not worth donating, making piles of clothes that I'll never wear again to donate (because I've, er, grown). I'm trying to remember to apply for jobs, pay bills, move my body, read.
I hear my daughter sneeze. She stayed the night with a friend whose family has several dogs, and she's allergic. She's also raising dust in her room, decided it's time, finally, to clear out broken old toys and junk she no longer needs. This is something we should have begun doing months ago, but this last year of her high school was my last year of grad school, so, well, the house suffered.
This past weekend was filled with graduation party preparations, the graduation itself, more parties to attend. I'm not a very social person, so this all wore me out. Yesterday evening, I went to an outdoor band concert (you know, marching music, local musicians). The area high school honors band played, so the crowd was large and full of proud parents. My daughter was not in honors band (her choice), but I love some of the kids who played, felt the need to leave my house, and wasn't disappointed since the kids played beautifully.
I managed to sneak away at the end without talking to too many people.
Really, I think all the socializing is what wore me out.
This is an interesting time of year for me, always desperately busy because of end of school things. Added to that is the fact that my father's absence looms large. He would have turned 82 last Thursday, and tomorrow is the 14th anniversary of his death. Just before he died, my husband, daughter and I accompanied him on a cruise to the Mediterranean (he nearly didn't make it home). Our final docking point before we flew home was Istanbul. I'm heart sick about what's happening there. Istanbul was lovely to us, to my father. I want all the bad stuff to stop.
The thesis I will defend Aug. 1 is full of poems about my father's dying, death and my missing him (and my mother). There are other themes, too, but the father/motherloss theme is what I think of as the spine of the manuscript. That I've been spending so much time returning to 14 and 15 years ago makes these dates more prominent, I think.
In other words, the transition from full-time mother to mother of college kid along with the memory of my father's dying makes me
a part of one of my thesis poems:
I dream my father dies again
but this time
when he dies,
he's not alone; I'm in Texas
next to his hospice bed, my hand
light on his chest,
rising as he inhales, sinking
as he exhales, my fingers fluttering.
smells of fresh-mowed grass,
cigar smoke and feathers.
and it goes on and on or maybe not so on and on since the lines are short. It doesn't matter. This post doesn't matter. It's something I needed to write and put out into the world to help me shake off the sad that seems to be preventing me from being as productive as I need to be to survive into and through the fall.
Thanks for listening.