Love and other things

“We ourselves shall be loved and then forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

I haven’t been blogging for a very, very long time. I have quite a few drafts, but never post them because they aren’t complete. I HAVE been writing the work-in-progress. And doing basic housekeeping.

But I can barely discuss life with my closest friends. I’m in a sort of waiting-hoping-fearing-waiting cycle. You see, my parents were both diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the summer.

I’ve been back and forth to see my parents. It’s all very normal, like a regular visit. We’ve talked over treatments and such, but it’s all a bit unreal to me. At odd moments, it strikes.

My mother commented that she’d given the “good” gold-rimmed dishes to my brother who hosts the holidays. It occurred to me that when I was a child, everyone gathered at my grandparents’ house. Then the holidays shifted to an uncle, my parents, an aunt… Now they shift again.

I very much want to tell them “I love you.” However, that would be maudlin, at best, and admitting defeat, at worst.

My parents are not demonstrative. I can count on one hand the times they’ve told me, “I love you.” (And a memorable time, when I thought I’d failed a final exam at college, when I called them in tears because they were paying my very-expensive tuition. My mother said, “You know that we love you; that won’t change. Just do your best.”)

Yet they’ve always demonstrated their love. When I had to rise early for a 90-minute drive to my job in the city, my father got up at an ungodly hour to scrape the frost (or snow) off my car and brew coffee. My mother works – paints baseboards, helps me move garden stones, and digs up their flowers to transplant to my garden.

And they give me things. Rhubarb. Zucchini. A hambone they set aside because it’s the starter for my favorite: split pea soup. This summer, my father put together a fishing tackle box and dug out my favorite fishing rod as a gift. Then, last week, my mother gave me a set of old dishes they had sitting in the outer hallway. I’d admired them. My younger brother told me later that they’d planned to have them as a “good” set to replace the old. It brought me to tears.

The weekend after their diagnosis, my best friend’s mother died suddenly. She was rather young – a teenaged bride – and beautiful. It was a shock. I couldn’t attend the funeral, but last week I visited my friend. We talked, walked, and laughed. A few times we cried. It seemed unreal. She catches herself ready to text or call the familiar number. Even I thought, early one morning, that it was a good day to pop over to her mother’s apartment.

The Old Man aka my father, joked, “My doctor told me that I won’t live another twenty years. What a relief!” I laughed because it’s not funny. It’s not funny because it’s true. He’s an octogenarian.

See? Here’s another post that has no proper ending. I’ll post it all the same.