Today is like one of those fancy olive oil decanters that hold a plethora of surprises inside - you know, roasted red peppers, basil, garlic, and other preserved goodies. My olive oil is decanting a mixture of aged goods - feelings about my dad, feelings about myself, some great and ancient pain about my grandmother's death. I can't wait to make a sauce from this.
Last night my phone rang....hmmm...312...who is that? Ms. Never-answer-the-phone picked it up and it was my uncle.
His voice has been quieted by a second tumor that has rendered one of his vocal cords paralyzed. He is hoarse, but he yelled over the silence of his throat to speak to me. I felt like a pile of shit right there, rotting in my big dumb ikea chair. I felt like a giant asshole on display at the international asshole show. Number One Jerk in any contest for sure. I hadn't called him....why not? Well, I couldn't stand to go back there. Step wholeheartedly into the pain that I knew was waiting for me. I kept justifying it with sentences like "Everyone is busy trying to get him settled..."
But, he didn't seem to hold anything against me. He chatted about tracking the avian flu; he asked me about school and how I was feeling. He did all the things that my uncle would usually do - making me feel special and important. A feeling that was mostly lost for me when I was little - notable exceptions coming from my uncle and my nana. Why is someone's death always such a selfish batch of emotions for other people? Is it me?
I wanted to yell into the phone that I loved him and that I think so much of him, that I didn't want him to die, that I wished I was there and not here, that I wanted to quit my job and come home to be there for my mom and him; for my little brother and sister. That I wanted to swoop in and scope out all of the stupid tumors that are eating him inside and out.
I wanted to - but I didn't. I told him about my trip to greece and my trip to italy. I told him about my students and tried hard not to cry.
The olive oil is going to taste a bit peppery tonight - my pain feels like pepper - there is the potential to sting and leave sores if rubbed too hard.
The world I am living in is too much a paradox. The death of him, the birth of this new life. The sorrow of my family, the joy of my new work mates. The clarity and certainty of his coming absence and the total confusion and disorganization of the approaching year.
I want to trade. I want to trade this situation for something else. I want him to live and be happy and I can take Atlas' burden or something like that. I will fight the snake at Hera's tree for Hercules - he is the hero - he can save my uncle. Come on. Please.
Pleas mean nothing sometimes. Especially not in death. I have to stop using them in other situations. I have to live more clean.