In scanning through recent posts here at the lair, I realized that my presence has been relatively weak as of late. It’s not as though I haven’t been around. I’ve had things to say about little things: books, DVDs, lost memories rekindled for a smile. But larger thoughts have gone silent in my mind. I feel as though my safety zone has become my own personal Twitter feed: limited to 140 characters, if I can even muster that many.
Truth is, I feel as though I’m skirting the perimeter of my life right now. Things continue in my mental absence, but my focus is such at the moment that I can’t be bothered to acknowledge any of it. It’s why my inbox is filled with messages from friends and ImagiFriendsTM alike…and I can’t seem to focus enough to respond to any of them. Not with the depth they deserve. I’m not going to use this as an all-purpose generic way of responding, though. I will write back. I will.
And I will find my focus again. Right now, though, it feels too ephemeral, like spun sugar melting on the tip of my tongue. So I stop trying to reach what has decided to elude me. I let the muses in my mind go silent. Silence has never bothered me. It’s the clatter that presses against that silence that worries me. So I reinforce the silence with silliness. Like ordering a Wonder Woman T-shirt because I remember spinning with abandon as a wee pup, laughing and wishing more than anything for an invisible jet of my own. Or hanging Vulcan ears in the stairwell because I know they’ll make me smile every time I pass them.
Or watching YouTube clips from EastEnders and trying to piece together the puzzle of the delightfully disturbed Slater family because…well, because even in the excessive way of most soap operas (even the ones from Jolly Old England), there’s something there. Something intrinsically beautiful, especially in the fractured, fragile bond between Kat and Zoe, a mother/daughter relationship that, if nothing else, does indeed put the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” Besides, when all is said and done, love and family trump all else and, as Kat tells Zoe, “…it don’t matter. None of it. Because there’s a line, and it goes from me to you.”
Yeah. Not really hard to understand my sudden obsession with those wacky Slaters when you look at it that way.
I miss her every day. Every breath. With a severity that ebbs and flows, but always returns to the shoreline. I don’t say that often, but in my mind it feels like it’s all that I say, all that I do.
I saw my dad for Father’s Day weekend, the first time I’d seen him since I was there for her funeral. It was like seeing a person for the first time after an amputation. There was something missing, something gone that will never be replaced. It’s not like I’d never seen him without my mom around. We’d been on our own many times before, through all the myriad hospital stays she’d undergone since I was 10.
But those were like fractures to the bone, broken but with the promise of healing. In time. This time, the bone was sliced clean through, and all that was left were phantoms of what was once there.
Phantom pains and phantom presence.
My dad told me that, not long after my mom’s death, a squirrel appeared in the little wooded space behind their house. In the 6 years that my parents have lived where they are now, none of us had ever seen a squirrel there. It was always one of my mom’s disappointments. She loved squirrels. The house is still filled with all the squirrel paraphernalia she’d acquired through the years, either on her own or as gifts.
I remember the short period of time in which we had a squirrel as a “pet.” It had survived a fall from the nest when it was still too young to even have opened its eyes. My dad found it, brought it in, and we cared for it, squeezing formula into its tiny mouth with an eyedropper and keeping it in a shoebox until my dad could build it a cage from lumber scraps and chicken wire.
When it grew a little bigger, we realized “it” was a “she.” We named her Peepers, and for a while, she became part of the family. I can still see my mom standing in the square of sunlight from the kitchen window, washing something off in the sink while Peepers sat on her shoulder.
I don’t know how to process the appearance of the squirrel in their yard now that she’s gone. It’s a bit much for my overly rational side to try to assign it to anything more than just coincidence. But that portion of my soul that cries out to believe in the fantastical and the unexplained, the part that cherishes the message of undying love in books like To Dance With the White Dog…that part of me wants to believe that it’s more.
My dad seemed content to believe. And so that will be enough for me for now. That and Wonder Woman shirts and EastEnders clips and Vulcan ears and whatever else is required to extend the silence between the silliness and the clatter.