Returning, albeit slowly

Ever have so much to say that you don't know where to start? I've been like that for the past couple of days; too much to say, too many people to say it to, and the end result is that I close down my email application and go do something else for a little while. The letters and thank-yous stay unwritten, but the lack of writing seems to do nothing but keep them in the forefront of my mind.

I've been moved, often to tears, by the words of others. Words, sometimes, from the most unexpected of places: Andrew's brother, out in North Carolina, whom I haven't seen in a few years. From my cousins. From those random people out in the world who have found this site.

One, though, brought home the reality of what I've been facing. Today's mail held a card, postmarked Chicago. I only know one person in Chicago, and the handwriting on the envelope matched his particular scrawl—Matthew.

How do I explain Matthew? Suffice it to say that he was a friend, of sorts, of someone that I dated in high school. My friendship with Matthew outlasted the brief dating relationship I had with the other person. Nearly ten years later, here we are, still separated geographically, still friends. The kind of friends who, in the best Cameron Crowe tradition, can say anything to each other.

I didn't know what the card would contain. Matthew has always been my excuse to express the devilishly-sardonic side of my personality; I wasn't sure if the enclosed card would be funny or honest. I think, deep down, I expected humor; we've always been able to make light of whatever outrageous or offensive things that life has thrown our way.

I opened the card. It read, "With deepest sympathies. Love, Matthew."

Jeremy summed up these moments well by calling them the "oh yeah" moments. They're the moments where your life is progressing along normally, as things used to be, and then you have a perfectly normal thought about the person who is gone, and your brain kicks you in the gut and says, "Oh, yeah. He's gone."

…and it hits you, with the force of a freight train, in a riptide of emotion, an emotional kick so visceral that you physically feel it. Then, with the same speed that it hit you, it's gone, leaving you empty, disoriented, and upset.

I call this time my version of sitting shiva. It's a good concept, devoting a week of time after a death for mourning; a period of time in which it's more important to allow yourself to grieve, so that once the time is over, it's easier to get on with your life.

In the end, it's what you have to do: get busy living, or get busy dying.

Tonight I had people over for the first time since I got back. It was the usual crew: Kat, Sean, Jeremy, and Geof in addition to the usual crew of spouse and catzillas. I made red beans and rice, along with salad and blueberry cobbler. Sean has promised to help plant the Japanese maple in the front yard soon. I'll plant the tulips myself, and find a place to stick the hyacinths for now.

Life resumes in a couple more days. I've already, quietly, begun doing design work again. Coding resumes next week. If you're lucky, so will the coherent entries. For now…I'll ease back to life in my own slow, deliberate way.

"Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm
in the mood to lose my way with words"

- John Mayer


i hear you loud and clear. i wish i'd been there too. i'm coming to think (at least) that i know you and geoff from your writings and would have loved to share the red beans and rice! gosh i miss that from my time in the south.

The food was good. The movie was funny, even if we'd all seen it lots of times before. But getting to see two of my really good friends again ... now that made the evening right there. [Of course, I just realized I didn't give either of you a hug, which is all I wanted to do while you and Jeff were away, and now I feel like a bit of a heel ... but I figure you'll gimme a raincheck on that.]