Monday, March 11, 2013
Two meanings of 'tear'
"That's not what I meant and you know it!"
"Oh do I? So I have to be a mind reader now too....?"
Her only answer was to slam the car door shut and stride off. As I muttered, 'grumpy cow,' to the steering wheel there was little doubt that she was doing the same into her jacket.
Finishing off my coffee before going for a run, the computer is always a lure, asking me to check on it before sweating it out in the room next door. C's facebook status is brief. "Single again." Love Chunks and I sigh in sympathy and disappointment. C is a single mother who has literally been on her own for a decade working full time, paying off a mortgage and caring for a son with a unique set of challenges that the father refuses to see. If anyone needs some pampering and romance, it is her. We both write separate messages and sign them off with the usual ineffective wish to provide a hug or two via cyberspace and across the hemispheres.
Tara's status is much lengthier, a written message in response to my carelessly typed, "Are you okay?" Not really. Her partner is now refusing to take the medication needed to manage a significant mental health issue leaving Tara to deal with unpredictable rages, unaffordable spending sprees, unheard of debts suddenly coming to light, undeserved accusations and uncomfortable living arrangements.
In the car, my phone vibrates. "I hope you are all well and enjoying the snow, but I have some really bad news that I need to tell you......" Darling Dale, IT guru, laid-back buddy, volleyball queen and world traveller has been given the unenviable task of contacting all of J's university friends and telling us that cancer claimed her. "But she wrote to me in January wondering if she should return to work full time or take it easy and pick up her painting again," is my tapped response, no time for refinement or spell check.
Back home, Love Chunks is now bent over his knees, clutching a blue esky ice block wrapped in a tea towel to his torn calf muscle. "Good thing I injured myself on the very last ski run of the day," he said, grimacing.
"I'll try the doctor again. Hopefully the receptionist answers this time because their message service is all in French." Milly sighs loudly and smooshes her face against the side of her bed, signalling very clearly her disappointment at the rain that prevents us from going out for a walk.
Appointment made for 2:45pm, I make LC something to eat and tram it into the city to book our train tickets for Italy in the summer. "No, sorry. They won't accept bookings that are 120 days before the departure date. Best come back on 11th April to get all your travel details sorted out." I try not to peel the skin around my thumbnail but do it anyway, feeling the sting of exposed flesh and blood beginning to flow. Accommodation is already becoming scarce for one of the world's most popular tourism destinations, but to take the chance of finding somewhere to sleep and then have no way of getting there on time. The hem of my jacket is used to press against the nail and stem the bloodflow.... I smile and thank the ticket lady for her help.
Back at home, LC is on the phone to M, J's husband. He told LC that J went downhill very rapidly before having a stroke and being placed into palliative care. M was in turn both prepared for her death and completely unprepared. She was only forty five, with three kids aged eighteen, sixteen and fourteen. M once told me how they met. "I saw her across the room giving some other bloke a really good telling off. I thought to myself, 'that girl's got fire in her,' and went over to divert her attention." That was in 1986.
LC's eyes fill with tears after he farewells his old friend. We hug and I tell him of my small moment with Sapphire earlier this morning. He shows me his calf which is twice the size of his other one.
There's leftovers for lunch and the final episode of Derek. I've already seen it with Sapphire and we both ended up sobbing. The biggest message is the one that everyone - no matter what their faults - see and value in Derek, the assistant at a nursing home who has his own problems to deal with. Kindness. Just be kind, that's all.
I send a text to Sapphire, apologising for my bad temper this morning. Love Chunks gets a Kath-made coffee that nowhere near reaches his own standard of DeLonghi delight, but he's grateful for it anyway. Milly skips when we take the lift downstairs and she sees the cleaning lady and rushes to greet her by giving her slippers a lick. The sun has some warmth in it now and Milly is happy to sniff the green stems of the crocus flowers emerging from the mud.
After doing some laundry and mopping the floors, two hours is spent printing out a document for one of my students page by page, thanks to an ancient CD-rom format that is still the preferred study method at his school. Sapphire arrives home from school, dashing past the study to get into her room. "Thanks for the book, Mum!' she calls out cheerfully. I sit at the desk, wondering whether to leave her alone as she's in her her haven; her fortress of solitude, or whether to barge on in and give her a hug.
Barging in won out.