Foot is better but still on the couch for a few hours each day to reduce swelling. At three weeks after surgery, I can tool around a little in the house, get from the back door to the car, and feel comfortable in the shower with a crutch. I can scoot four or five blocks. And tonight for the first time in three weeks, I willingly go downstairs again after I put Julia to bed. I go downstairs to get my ice pack that I am still using even though I am beginning to see the veins in at least a part of my foot. The toes are skinnier sausages and there is a bit of throbbing when I tool around a bit too much, but it is improving. I am thinking that this is the last “renovation” for a good long time. For the past year, and yes it is almost exactly a year, when renovations started, and just a bit more when the grand clean-out of the basement started. For the last year, there has been something going on that prevented the ability to do little things, hang a picture, sew a curtain. There has been some bit something that has not permitted me to settle into, nestle down deep, into this reconfigured house. I think my foot is the last of the renovation.
Ordered Julia’s Ipad today. I want her to pick out the color of the Otterbox case. Strong case and insurance, I am trying to guarantee long use. She is still going very strong on the reflex math. Last week, she told someone at school that her favorite thing to do in school is math. Amazing, and I do believe her, but she is still really awful at it. Still, I cannot help but believe that she prevail. Not too long ago, when I spoke with Ellen, I asked Julia’s spirit guides, through Ellen, if we should concentrate on survival math, teach her to use a calculator and not expect her to understand or learn much theory. Her guides said, no! No, Julia should keep at the math, that she has a math aptitude. I tell you that one is hard to believe, given how long it has taken to get to very simple addition, but I am willing to keep it going.
Tomorrow will be time to organize the study and get Julia’s programming together. I have math ideas to organize and reading comprehension to lay out. I will put together a few folders for the therapists, and decide what I will work on with her. We will go back to book journaling but because she is into beginning chapter books and because she is writing more, the journal will look different. I am hoping to find an app for calendaring that can merge with my calendar and be a bit of fun for Julia. I have a conversation app that looks very good, and a picture based scheduler. Still looking for something to reinforce and learn more about time telling and money counting. I am hoping that i can find as many game based apps as I can, and that Julia will want to do these activities on our road trips instead of using her leapster. The leapster has been great, but it is time to move on.
We picked up out kitten today after finding him yesterday at the humane society. Another orange which both of us seem to want. I’ve been looking on Craig’s list but for some reason it never worked out. Yesterday, we went to a Friends of Ferrals adoption fair and finding nothing, went to a humane society adoption site which was close by. There waiting for us were four orange kitten who were 10 weeks old. Abandoned at two weeks they have been fostered, fixed, vaccinated, and chipped. Chipping sounds very good to me after losing Didi Chi. Don’t want this one walking away from us. We will also buy a collar today and get it on him as soon as he gets home -- not that I am going to let him out, but not going to run the risk of a cat not wanting to wear a collar again.
We are thinking of naming him Muta. Muta is a big, fat, warrior cat from Miazaki’s The Cat Returns. The woman at the humane society said that orange cats tend to be very big cats and so, Muta may be perfect. Plus, Julia enjoys putting sounds together when she names toys and Muta sounds like one of her names. And it is so cat-like.
I am listening to Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story: A Memoir. Another writer losing a spouse. I am somewhat jealous, like I was with Joan Diddion, both women had so many more years with their partners than I did, both women were so much older than I am. And Joyce was engaged to be remarried to a long time friend within 11 months of her first husband’s death. Some critics were more than unkind about this “betrayal” as Oates did not mention her forthcoming marriage at the end of her book, but I have a more-power-to-you,-girl feeling. I wish I had an old friend like that who was free and wanted to partner me. Both women were also successful writers and skinny, neither of which is really part of my jealousy but had to throw that in since these are my conventional envies.
Apart from my jealousy and our so many obvious differences, the feelings described, the days lived through, the depth of hell descended to are all too familiar. And that Oates and her first husband met in Madison, and much later lived outside of Princeton relatively close to where Lisa’ s family home was located makes so many scenes described more like something a friend told me rather than a great writer’s memoir. When Oates talks about turning onto a specific road that I know well, I felt a rush of familiarity that I do not deserve. Like Didion, whose style is completely different, the description of near madness, irrational thinking, deals with the universe, very magical thinking, and punch-in-the-gut pain speaks directly to me. As if I can only recognize my journey as real, human, and rather ordinary if I read that someone else went through the same things. And two thoughts on this -- I can hear my mother’s voice telling me how I made a mountain out of a mole hill. I need descriptions of other grief journeys to prove to myself that my grief is within the normal boundaries. I need to make sure that this was my mountain. And it was. It is.
Second, it is just comforting not to be unique. It is not hurt less, but there is some comfort. In so many other situations, when someone tells of their similar circumstances now or in the past, there is a comfort that warms a heart, something to be indulged in together. These memoirs are comforting but if there was a way to undo, walk away from, and deny the journey, I would be doing it with gusto. But I listen, with attention, sometimes with tears in my eyes from intimate understanding -- yes, I was right there. I lived but I was as broken as she describes. And perhaps, I read for the assurance that this is another widow who survived, who thought she could not live without her partner, who thought that she was nothing she could do without him, but survived and found some life afterwards. It is a small crutch for me. Another small hero.
I was almost amused to hear her talk about people who suggest or state that they are sure that the widow will do as her dead partner wanted. Some suggest that they know what the dead partner wanted. Those are such foolish people! For the last two years, the hair on my back has risen stiffly with such suggestions. I was usually too timid, possibly afraid of ruining David’s image to those people, to say something caustic in reply, but I thought it. And not a one of them was right, David would have never wanted me to act as those people said.
People say very stupid things to widows.
Oates also talks about now knowing her husband in some ways, and that thought echoes in my head. Partners know and don’t know. Intimates cannot climb behind that eyes of the beloved, and there is always a part of the self that is unknowable. I have wrestled with this as I went through David’s papers. I kept thinking of questions that I never asked, I kept thinking of comments I never made, explanations that I never demanded, even dreams that I did not know, or drafts of writings that I did not beg to read. Oh, I knew a lot. We talked a lot, but never enough. I did not know David completely because I always assumed that there was time to discover more. Maybe that is something about such a love -- that there continued to be more that the lover wants to know, that the relationship keeps inventing the partners over and over. And therein is the tragedy of death, the learning, the inventing, the questions have to stop.