Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gloomy Days

I’m a naturally pensive person. I think a lot; some might say, too much. And my obsessive rumination generally puts me slightly out of phase with other people. It’s an uncomfortable and often lonely place to exist, so my nature is to be somewhat…blue. Seventy-five percent of the time, I put a good face on it, and go forth as if I’m as positive and jolly as the next guy. But my blues are always just below the surface.

Which is what makes Northwest winters difficult. There are so many dismal, cold and drippy days. The weather becomes an extension of my melancholy, rather than a relief from it. The dark of Oregon winters makes me want to drop the happy mask and just…wallow.

Today is precisely that kind of day. It’s cold and damp, and it’s going to be one of those where we’ll never see full daylight. Outside my dining room window, a few little juncoes are dejectedly pecking at waterlogged seeds. Even the birds look soggy and disgruntled. Looking out upon this vignette, it’s hard for me not to think forward to the coming holidays, and contemplate how sad, dark and empty they are likely to be.

With Thanksgiving just over the horizon, and Mom so sick, the first thing that comes to mind is Christmas, 1998. Dad died the second of February, 1999. The 1998 holiday season was a six-week nightmare. Dad was dying, Mom was ill, and my sisters, my nieces and I were at each other’s throats. I’m not sure why, but our normally close-knit and generally amiable family utterly disintegrated during that dark time. It took me, literally, years to get over it. Or not. I’m still not over it, or so I’ve recently discovered.

Yes, things are different now. Mom is desperately ill, but there is not that feeling that she’ll be going before her time…that she might be leaving her life unfinished. That feeling was so strong when Dad died. It magnified the sadness of his passing a hundredfold.

And this time, we know what it’s like to bury a parent. It’s never easy, and you’re never as prepared as you think you are. With Dad, we were utterly blindsided. At least now, we’ve been through it before.

And there’s one other thing we know. It’s a sad and disheartening thing to know, but we know it nonetheless. We know how poisonous we can be to each other. We know the worst we can be, faced with the strain of coming to terms with death…and life. They say forewarned is forearmed, do they not?

Still, I have this trepidation that whatever knowledge we possess, it won’t be enough to keep us from going for the jugular when the stress reaches the boiling point. We don’t seem to be able to help ourselves. Our Pandora’s box was torn open when Dad was dying…and we haven’t yet been able to corral or appease everything that flew out of it those nine years ago.

So my highest wish for this holiday season is…I wish it was spring.



  1. {{{Lisa}}}

    I had a therapist years ago that pretty much told me that rumination would be the ruination of me.  Yeah, that's true, it could be, but how do you shut off your brain?  You don't.

    Your brain -- your mind is complicated & exceptionally good at thinking through the dimensions of life.  I'm sure you wish it was spring.  Heck, I'm sure you're wishing for just one sunny day, right now.

    I know this sounds corny, but if I could, I'd send you a bottle of sunshine to be taken one drop at a time, as needed.  You could use a little sunshine and I'm sure your friends here (and there) would be happy to provide it for you.

  2. Have you ever tried those special lights that are for that problem?  
    May "the Force be with you" during this trying time.

  3. And yet there is Oliver Herford's beautiful verse:

    I heard a bird sing
    In the dark of December
    A magical thing
    And sweet to remember.

    ‘We are nearer to Spring
    Than we were in September,’
    I heard a bird sing
    In the dark of December.

    I would send you some sunshine if I could.  In the absence of that, please count me as a virtual friend who's here for you, Lisa.


  4. My dad died nine years ago today.  He also left a lot of living behind by going too soon.  I'm just so sorry that the grief of that situation was magnified by such dischord in your family.

    Maybe everyone is feeling like you are....scared of a repeat performance.  Maybe you all have learned enough from that experience to know that you don't want to go through it again.  I hope so.....because it's hard enough to lose a parent, prepared or not.  I hope that your family can embrace and support each other through it all.

    You're in my thoughts Lisa.  If you need a friend, I'm here.

    Here's to a VERY early spring.....


  5. I like the idea of a bottle of sunshine. Wonder how we could do that. Or someway to channel the sun from further south and bring it up here.

    You and yours are in my prayers. Hugs,