I've thought about cancer a lot lately. I've been watching DVDs of the TV show Breaking Bad, in which the main character is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The writers really nailed the realities of treatment. Unpleasant, and unpleasant memories. Riley got a bloody nose the other day; I wasn't even home for it, but hearing our nanny talk about it and then worrying about whether or not it would start again made me really edgy.
In general, I've been off my game for a week or so. I'm distracted by and disinterested in work. The kids have eaten pasta with red sauce for three dinners in a row. I can't seem to focus on getting chores done once the kids are in bed, nor can I concentrate on reading a book or much on watching TV. Running doesn't feel good; my legs hurt and I feel like my body is made of lead. I haven't been eating particularly well. I'm very much adrift.
The drifting feeling has been more acute during this short holiday week. I can't seem to complete tasks at home or at work, have dropped the ball on a few things at the office, feel disproportionately annoyed by how bad traffic has been, and just have a feeling of not being able to cope, like at any minute the tenuous grasp I have on things could be lost and it could all spin out of control.
There's no telling why I feel this way during an otherwise even-keel time in life, but I think a contributing factor is how perfectly lovely the July 4 weekend was. The glow of the weekend was unexpected given my mindset going in. I didn't feel all that great in the week leading up to it, the same disconnected feeling I have now, but less acute. And I entered the weekend with some trepidation. A Peace Corps friend of mine, someone I hadn't seen in years and am really only in sporadic touch with, spent the holiday with us from Saturday morning through late Monday evening. While our contact has been infrequent, this friend has been important to me in small, meaningful ways. For one thing, she is the one who created stuffed animals for me and the kids out of John's clothes after he died. She writes a culinary newsletter that has inspired my cooking for years, and from time to time, I've recieved lovely little packages in the mail from her containing spices or other edible treats. She's unmarried, no kids, and is extremely independent in all senses of the word. I was a bit concerned that the logistics of sightseeing and visiting with kids would drag her down, or that Maddie and Riley would be crabby about having to divide their mama time with a visitor, or who knows what. I was a bit apprehensive, in any case.
All for naught. From the moment we picked her up downtown on Saturday morning, everything just worked out. The kids adored her. Adored her. She didn't talk down to them or try to curry their favor, she just let them come to her and she treated them with respect and kindness at every turn. They responded in kind. We did a very little bit of touristing, driven by A's particular interests—artisan chocolate shop, food carts, coop grocery store, berry picking—but we also spent a lot of time just being. She integrated seamlessly into our life. We cooked, we played in the yard, we attended dinner at a friend's home, and a BBQ with my parents. We walked and biked, we talked about all kinds of things. It was completely relaxing, or as relaxing as any mostly-structured time can be with kids. It was, quite simply, nice. The kids and I were all sad to see her go on Monday.
I've been thinking about it since she left, and I've realized that the weekend made me miss all of the good, idealized things about being married. It was so calmly pleasant to enjoy shared interests in someone's company, to keep track of the kids with two sets of eyes instead of just one, to let the kids take turns getting one-on-one interaction time with us. What a novelty to only field one question at at time, rapid-fire as the questions might have been! It was the ease of it all that struck me, the comfort, the effortlessness. It's not always like that, I know. But sometimes it is. And I can't remember the last time I experienced that for a sustained period of time.
I liked it. I miss it. I appreciate my life as it is now, but I do miss that companionship. Not enough to actively look for it right now, but enough to feel happy that I had it for a weekend and wistful that for the moment, it's gone.