May. 25th, 2017 12:00 pm

One down

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The verdict is in on the first of Monshu's birthdays without Monshu this century and it's, "Not as bad as feared". Things looked grim at the start: My plans with Mozhu had fallen through and I couldn't really think of anyone else I wanted to be with. Willing volunteers would have been plentiful, but it's difficult bearing these occasions with someone who doesn't really understand what you're going through--which is nearly everyone. There are all sorts of loss in this world, but losing a spouse isn't quite like any of them. Take the intersection of that with number of people I know who knew Monshu and the pool is tiny indeed.

I'd already decided to comment-whore by posting a picture to FB of an orchid in bloom that Monshu had given me. I've kept it alive ten of the last eighteen years without his help but I'd never gotten it to bloom before. It eventually racked up enough Likes to get Mom to backhandedly say, "I didn't realize you had so many friends."

But in terms of mood, things only began to look up a bit at lunch, when I hitched my wagon to a group of guys at work who have a weekly stammtisch at the Irish pub in town. Two of them have been working here as long as me, and though we're not close, there's a rapport there. One of them joined us late and the second thing (after ordering, natch) he did was turn to me and say, "Happy birthday, by the way." Then we all toasted Monshu and after that began the usual inventory of everything the Library is doing wrong.

But work had to end sometime, and even though I stayed an extra hour to make up for the longer lunch, I eventually had to face the dilemma of having nowhere to go but home. Part of me was still hoping to hear from Turtle or Turtlewife, who have both been mysteriously absent from my life for the past couple months. Instead, I heard from a recent trick who I had a snarky response all planned for for blowing me off but didn't feel up to using.

Fortunately, that was the point at which I decided to stop brooding on my own troubles and think of someone else for a change. Namely, my father, who's in a bad place right now. I'm feeling some guilt for not doing much of anything to help (despite the fact that it's the last thing anyone expects from me right now), especially now that my brother is down there with him. So I texted Bunj and we made plans to chat on the phone later.

With that in mind, I no longer dreaded going home. I figured I'd have just enough time to throw together dinner and putter a bit before he called. I had leftover udon in the fridge so I decided to heat that up (eventually taking the noodles out of the broth to fry them because they were too waterlogged otherwise) and stuff some izarizushi--one of Monshu's favourite dishes, something he asked for whenever I got sushi--for an appetiser.

When we talked, we talked for over an hour. I commiserated with him about Dad--it's sad seeing your own father become one of those irascible old guys who alienates everyone, not to mention a little frightening--and reminded him that he was there as much to reassure Dad's wife (who's in acute rehab) and our sister (on vacation in Florida) as to do anything directly beneficial for Dad himself. But then we got on to other things--his job, my job, my mild depression, travelling. There was a time when I thought we might never have these kinds of chats again, and I really missed them.

Mom called while we were on the phone (almost the precise moment when Bunj called, in fact) and I managed to keep our call brief. She told me she's "trying as hard as I can to be good" so that she won't cause us additional trouble right now, which made me laugh. It was all a good reminder that, when the grief starts to get overwhelming, withdrawing is not the answer.
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