First, let me apologize for not knowing your name. We're in Wednesday night "group" together and we wear name tags, so really, there's no excuse. I never really thought I'd be part of such a circle: middle-aged women in colorful scarves, fuzzy with dog hair, sharing our "feelings," using words like mindful and spiritual center. When granola and ugly shoes were invented, I'm sure it was by a circle of dog-hair covered women, sharing. But I digress.
I know your husband died this past year. You said as much. And I could tell you were devastated. You have that blurriness, that "checked out" look of someone who has suffered so deeply that just going to the grocery store and having it be a simple, daily thing is unimaginable. Everything is a chore. I know.
So when you sat down next to me at the annual Fishermen's Memorial Mass, I was surprised, but shouldn't have been. Your husband was one of the two men lost at sea this past winter, his body never recovered. When the chaplin read his name, you cracked and howled such a wracking, horrible, animal noise that everyone stiffened and stared straight ahead. Nobody dared turn around and look.
I handed you a Kleenex. You came alone so I should have put my arm around you and said something wise, if not comforting, but didn't. I'm embarrassed that I didn't step up and help...especially since I always bitch about people who don't step up and help. In fact, I have a big "fuck you" for those folks and here I am, one of them.
Truth is, I waited till everyone stopped singing "Amazing Grace" before I grabbed my purse and fled to my car where I sat and cried. For you and for me. You didn't see me leave because you had your head in your hands.
See, I have no reserves, dear woman-whose-name-I-don't-remember. I'm fresh out. It's all I can do to carry my own sorrow. I simply don't have room for yours. I know your dead husband and my dead brother should bring us closer together...but that assumes we have the strength to lift our arms. Sorry. Not yet.
Grief makes you small and heartless. An ugly truth, but there you have it. My father called today to tell me my brother, Andrew, the drug addict, was in the hospital again, having gotten the shit kicked out of him by some "friends." Guess he shorted his dealer. But when my dad said, "too bad they didn't finish the job," I felt my skin tingle with shock. I know he would trade the bad seed for the return of the good son if such trades were possible. My brother's 30-year drug addiction has drained his gas tank. And Edward's death stalled the engine.
But who am I to be shocked? At Edward's funeral, when Andrew flung himself across the coffin and cried, "It should have been me. It should have been me," I muttered under my breath, "Yes, it should have been you, you son-of-a-bitch." And I still believe that.
I know I could tell you all this in person,
but I'm not going back to Group.
I have work to do, that much is clear.
But it's not going to happen in a circle.
And I'm fresh out of colorful scarves.