I don’t write here every day. Sometimes I wish I could, but these last few days – well, I’ve been angry. Restless. And when the litany of complaints starts up in my head, there is a rational part of my brain that recoils in horror and says “Brianna, you are perilously close to whining!”
Nobody likes to be a whiner. There are things going on in my life that I can be legitimately sad, angry, frustrated about. But those are not the things that circle around in my head. The big things, they are sort of ever present and I accept them and part of accepting them is not dwelling on them. Not dwelling on the fact that my mother is dying, every second she is closer to it and we all feel it and I can’t dwell on it. I can’t put that kind of weight on these last seconds. There has to be room for levity, room for comfortable silence.
And I am not dwelling on the fact that I have seen the man I love twice in nine months, after spending nearly every day of eight years together, and that right now, I would give just about anything – walk any distance, fight any dragon – for the luxury of time to waste sitting next to him and arguing about William Faulkner.
Of course, I managed to start the Faulkner thing up again from 9,000 miles away in Greece and I FEEL I MADE MY POINT so that’s probably why I’m so calmly able to not dwell on it. That, and the fact that I text message him so frequently that when we talk on the phone I find myself abbreviating my spoken sentences to less than 140 characters. Suitable for an argument about Hemingway, but I think Josh and I both pretty much agree on his place in literature.
No, the big stuff hasn’t been getting the bulk of the radio play in my head today. I have spent the day frustrated and silent, and if anyone had asked me what was wrong, I’d have said “I don’t know! There’s nothing to read around here! I’m not famous! My clothes don’t match! I can’t sing at the top of my lungs!” I’d have said anything other than face up to the things that are really bothering me. Even in my head, I can’t be that present all the time.
The truth is, I’m a girl who likes a lot of time alone. And I won’t leave my mother for a second. This creates a little internal conflict. I need to go for a walk, I need to sit alone in my room for a bit and read a book, or at least it feels like those things would be good for me, but I treat the suggestion of them as though it’d been suggested that I take vitamins. Right now, my inner voice is telling me not to leave her alone. So much so, that I dreamt I was on Paros the other night, trying to get a flight to Athens because somehow I’d arrived back on the island and even though I was so happy to be there, it hit me with a flood of anxiety that I had left my mother alone, and that I promised her I wouldn’t.
So I pace on the deck. I read Nora Roberts novels (reinforcements of Anne Carson are on their way from Amazon though, so that torture should be shortlived). I try to work, but there are too many phone calls and too many people coming in and out of the house. I planned for this, though, and put a hold on clients until I could commit my time.
I do not draw. I do not paint. My camera is languishing. The dogwoods are blossoming and I look at them sparking on the hillside through the pines and I vaguely think “I would like to photograph that. The petals are luminous” but then I forget and sink back into the watchful torpor of moving myself to the rooms my mother is in, or sitting in front of the computer when I can see her nearby. I treat every visitor, even my wonderful grandparents whom I adore and miss if I don’t see them every day, as a threat to my mother’s health. I see how tired she is after visits, and I know that it is simply how she wants it – to spend as much time as she can with the people we love. She is never alone, not for a second, and neither of us would have it any other way.
The lilacs are blossoming, and they smell incredible. There is a scrub jay nesting in the hedge under my window, and every day I watch the progress of her little nestling – three days ago, a pale grey little lump in the scraggly nest. Today, a sleeping baby bird with prickly tufts of feathers poking out all over. I see the mama jay feeding her worms sometimes, once only a few inches away from my face. But today, the mama squawked me away from the nest, glittery eyed and protective. A cat had been threatening her baby this morning, and she was fierce.
Tomorrow I will ply her with peanuts and see if I can restore her faith in the security of her nest. It is funny how much I understand where she is coming from.