Yesterday was my first day back at work. In a word, it was boring. I had thought that it might be emotional to see all my coworkers for the first time since John's death, but it was surprisingly not. Mostly I had that feeling that I get after a vacation, that strange sense that I was never away at all. I jumped right back into old projects after a meeting with my boss, and I'm starting on something new today. I continue to feel like I'm being mommy-tracked a little bit, but as time goes on and I get back in the groove and figure out just how much challenge I want, I should be able to talk with my boss about getting some more demanding projects on my plate.
I was quite tired when I got home last night, but not too tired to watch the two-hour season finale of 24. I missed a bit at the end because Riley woke up screaming around 9:40. Turns out that his leg was stuck between the bars of the crib. I brought him out to the living room and cuddled him and he went right back to sleep in with me in the glider while I watched the end of the show. I had not held a snuggly, sleeping baby for a while. It was so cozy and nice.
I had my first one-on-one meeting with a social worker from Early Intervention last Friday. I'd met with her before, when John was alive and when I had the twins home on Fridays. She happens to be a reiki master, and during most of her visits she would do reiki on John. This past Friday, it was my turn to be in the spotlight. She didn't do reiki on me; instead, she broke out a bunch of art supplies—oil pastels, colored pencils, watercolors, and a big sketch pad—and we did some expressive therapy. At first, I was intimidated. Even though I knew full well that the goal was not to create a masterpiece, I was worried about the quality of what I might draw. I put on some music to try to help me along, and the social worker and I chatted as I got to work.
It turned out to be a lot of fun. I did five pieces, mostly oil pastel and watercolor. I focused on color and shape, and tried to think about what I wanted to tell John. The overriding thing that I wanted to communicate is that I'm OK and the twins are OK. John worried so much about me and the babies, much more than he ever worried about himself. I want him to know that we miss him, but that we're doing fine and being well taken care of. I think he knows that, but I used the art as a way to try to get that point across even more clearly.
There are lots of things that John and I didn't talk about before he died. I do not know for certain what he believed about the afterlife, for instance. He was not religious; I don't know that I ever heard him declare himself an atheist, but I think that's how he thought of himself. I'm not even sure what I think about what happens when someone dies. In the abstract, I've always thought that once you die, that's it. No heaven, no hell, no judgment, no nothing. That's it. You live on in the memories and lives of people who are still living. I still mostly feel that way, although at the same time, I'm quite certain that John became cancer-free and that a huge burden was lifted from him when he died. I don't know how to reconcile those two beliefs—that death is quite simply the end but that something changed in John mentally and physically when he died. I also have a sense that he knows that the twins and I are OK. Maybe it's just what I want to believe.
As I was getting out of the shower this morning, I suddenly felt a wave of anger. Oddly, my bathroom is filled with things that make me think of John's parents: the honey-scented lotion they insisted on massaging on his legs, makeup my mother-in-law has given me, fleece-covered hot-water bottles, Korean toothpaste. I started thinking about the time John and I had together before he died. And I started to get angry, really angry at my in-laws. There are so many things John and I didn't get to talk about because his parents were there during those last two weeks. Constantly, unrelentingly there. Sitting in the hospital room. Sitting in our house. Sitting, sitting, sitting.
There's nothing that John and I needed to say that didn't get said. There's just a lot I wanted to say and discuss. I know that there never would have been enough time and that some of the things I wish we had discussed would not have occurred to me in the moment. I also know that I got the honor and privilege of being the person who was with John when he died, and that John wanted that person to be me.
I'm just feeling some selfish anger. John's parents had him in their lives for 32 years. I think they have some regrets about how at least some of that time was spent. I think they wanted to make up for things at the end. Their need to make amends got in my way. I only got John for four years.
Life can be so fucking unfair.
Of course, John's parents lost a child, the pain of which I can only begin to imagine. But it's the same thing with them that it's always been. I feel like I am the one who makes all of the accommodations. I was the one who made room for them in the hospital room, who stepped aside when they wanted time alone with John in our home.
I just need a minute to play the martyr.