three things: 12/27/16

1) Headaches, of which I am the chief taxonomist, the God of Knowing, the Linneaus, the Webster. My dad was a headache-haver, I am the inheritor of that misery, and my daughter Katie carries it on another generation. I have a headache nearly every single day, and know the specifics and instigator of so many. There’s the one that exists in the top of my left eyeball (and the very different one that dominates my right eyeball). The one that sits on the top center of my head. The one that presses on my right temple. The one that wraps like a belt. The one that comes from a low pressure system. The one that arises from smells in the environment. The one that comes from specific bad sleep. The different one that comes from insufficient sleep. The one that comes from perfume or cologne worn by others. The one that I get when it’s too cold. Etc. Etc. Etc. The one that’s treated with hot, wet cloths. The one that’s treated with Sumatriptan. The one that’s helped by beer and a Sudafed (only if both at once). The one that’s helped by massage. The one that’s helped by sleep. The one that is helped by nothing. And all combinations of all.

People want to help, and I inevitably hear that I should go to a doctor. But the issue is that I am a headache-haver, and that isn’t treatable. I know how to identify and treat the different ones, so what would a doctor say? You have sinus headaches, tension headaches, sleep-related headaches, you’re sensitive to volatile organic compounds, all of which I already know. It’s a terrible thing, being a headache-haver, because my day can be derailed so easily and often there is nothing to do but wait for the next day in the hope that it’ll be better. This part of the post brought to you by today’s low-heavy-shaggy-gray-sky-headache. I was in my mid-20s when I learned that not everyone has a headache every single day, and it blew me away. Lucky you, if you don’t!

I have 953 pictures of just him, and only 6 of those are from the past 13 years. I always loved this one, he is so beautiful.

2) My son is breaking my heart anew. I got a message from his ex-boyfriend about a box of Will’s stuff — did I want it, or should he throw it away? It’s filled with pictures from Will’s childhood, mementos, gifts I gave him, an album his sister assembled with pictures and letters from us all when she was trying to lead him back to our family, all just abandoned by him. I’m honestly not sure I can bear to collect them, but I know I can’t bear for them just to be tossed in the dump on Staten Island and so I will collect them. They will smell like Will. He told me that Will lost his job in the spring and he doesn’t know if/where he’s working, and that he doesn’t have the same phone number. He knows he is (at the moment) staying with a friend in Sunnyside, Queens, but nothing more specific than that. The thread is getting so weak that allows me to tug him, frayed down to a single twist. Will knows he is hurting me, and that doesn’t make my pain any less, it doesn’t allow me to just reside in anger at him. I still fill the weight of him in my arms, smell the smell of his baby head, smell the smell of his teenage years, hear the sound of his boy voice and his deep man voice. I still remember his humor, his pleasure in beating me at Scrabble, the way he called me Ma just to crack me up. The way he said I’d be Granma Pete instead of just Pete, to make me laugh. It’s holding the full complexity of it all that breaks my heart. If I could simply be furious with him, or let him go, or just feel all the love, it would be so much easier.

3) I’ve been trying to sit very still and quiet with this terrible feeling in order to understand it. I set aside the headache as its own thing, and focus instead on the heartache. Why is it so painful? What, exactly, is the feeling of it? I realized that I feel chaotic and not whole, that this feeling is one of fragmentation, and an inability to cohere. It might cohere if I had a simple story I could tell, if I had more answers (whatever they might be) than questions, if I had a simple set of feelings. Just grief, for example. My mind feels like threads exploded outwards, my body doesn’t feel whole and comfortable, and my feelings are all over the place, changing with my breath. I’m doing my best just to let this all be, to be present with it and not try to force it into one category, one thing, and to notice that I can do that. Super hard, y’all. Super, super, super hard. I keep suddenly standing up and preparing to walk somewhere, but I just take a few steps, turn around, hold my head, and sit down again. This is just part of life, it’s just part of my life, it just is, and it will not always be like this.

8 thoughts on “three things: 12/27/16”

  1. My heart goes out to you Lori. Both of my sisters refused to talk to me for years and my mother didn’t speak to me the last 15 years of her life, so I know something of what you are going through. Even so when it’s your child it’s so much worse. Maybe all you can do is survive, but that in itself is important. I hope the season brings you some healing.

    1. Thank you for this, Karen, and I’m so sad and sorry that you know the pain of this, too. There is something in sharing it; my son speaks to no one in our family, not one of us, and we have all tried so hard to reach him, again and again. My daughters can share the specific experience with each other, and we all share it, from our different roles…..and as the mother, I’m ‘stuck’ with it in a way that the others aren’t, I can’t just set him aside as someone I used to know, etc. We haven’t known him for so many years, now, we don’t know him at all, but he will always be my son. Thank you for the reminder about surviving; yesterday was so hard I forgot that. Love to us, the estranged ones. xo

  2. Just…I am sorry you are in so much pain…physically and emotionally…hugs to you….as one of my students said to me the last day before vacation…I will be with you in spirit and give you hugs every day…..

    1. OH, what a beautiful thing your student said to you. That is a true comfort, when you can call it to mind, even if the pains are still there. You’ve really been through the wringer lately, so I will be with you, too, as you are with me. Here’s to healing for us both. xoxoxo

  3. Oh Sweetie! I can’t even imagine pain like this. My heart breaks for both you and your son. Take the box but don’t look through it. Keep it safe for another time. I’m sending you lots of love and a big, tight virtual hug. xoxo

    1. Thank you dear Becci — I need all the love and tight hugs I can get at the moment. Katie told me not to look through it, to just give it to her for safe-keeping. I’m going to try very hard not to look through it. Jim is putting it in a big bag so I can transport it more easily, and I hope I can resist looking at any of it. xoxoxoxoxo

  4. Dear one, my heart hurts for you. By all means, collect this Pandora’s box but don’t open it. Leave the griefs and hurts inside where they’re intended to be. You have enough of those to carry, there’s no need to add more. Love to you xxxx

    1. PANDORA’S BOX. Wow. That’s exactly what it is. Exactly. I think it will be something good to see and touch his things, but it won’t be. It will be gutting, and terrible, and it will just hurt me. I’m a sucker for just the right metaphor or phrase or articulation, and you just gave it to me. It’s Pandora’s Box, and I certainly do not want to unleash that on myself.

      Wow. Thank you. Thank you xxxxxx love to you too <3

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