I am sitting in my new dining room overlooking our beautiful guacamole tree (avocado, but a girl can dream) and nothing is coming out of my clogged brain and onto my computer screen. I want to write about my weekend in Wisconsin and my grandfather’s memorial service and my wacky pack family and the bourbon we toasted with and the shrill sea shanty singing and the summer sausage I overindulged in and the bratwurst burger I made love to (that’s right!) and the fact that I am far too old to share a hotel room with anyone (no offense to M, but seriously) and the sadness of watching five children sit around swallowing the pain of losing their only surviving parent and feeling like an eavesdropper and wanting to run away and missing my boys and doing my best to embrace arms that do not like hugs and smelling the summers of my youth all around me in wet wood piles and freshly cut grass and bacon greased cast iron pans that kept me fed during my little league summers so many games ago.
But just as I did when grandpa passed away in January, within a week of my father-in-law, I seem to be unable to write anything at all about the death of a great man and the patriarch of a colorful and complicated family. In fact, my writing has all but ceased to exist and my creative fountain is dry and cracking. It’s as if I have emotional constipation and no verbal Ex-Lax within reach. I am by nature and by nurture an extremely emotive human being. I get mad, happy and sad quicker than a Halle Berry hand gesture in a TMZ snapshot. I rage against machines and I yodel to the mountaintops and I sing to the bleachers when my feelings bubble up. I am half Brazilian and that half is usually a Carmen Miranda headdress of ha ha’s and boo hoo’s.
But I cannot seem to let loose or weep a willow or write a riddle when it comes to my grandfather. Maybe it was his advanced age of 92 or the fact that his last few years were difficult ones for him and that makes me feel that he is in a better place. Maybe I ran out of tears over Christmas vacation after Dave’s father passed away. Maybe the stoicism I witnessed over the weekend in cow country permeated my South American sloppiness and I am now officially a repressed Protestant lady person.
Or maybe I am stuffing my feelings like a cheap, store bought Thanksgiving turkey because I feel too much to feel. The loss of an elderly grandparent sucks. He was a funny, smart and complex man who I knew well, loved lots and lived with every summer during my childhood. I adored his wife and I love that I was lucky enough to know him the way that I did.
But that loss makes sense. That loss is how it is supposed to happen. That loss is logical and can be rationalized and tucked away in the file marked “LIFE”. What cannot be tucked away is a terrible illness of a forty-four year old a man with two small children, a wife and a big, beautiful life.
My friend Sam was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer this past February and there really are no words for this kind of unjust bullshit. In the last few months I have spent a little bit of time with him taping his thoughts and jokes for his kids so they have something to see and hear if he loses the swordfight with shitty. To say it is heartbreaking to film a man living every moment with every naked emotion is a waste of words.
Last night a group of his friends got together with him, his wife and his mother to share stories and join in healing prayer to try our best to lift him up so he can kick the fuck out of cancer. The people who attended were as varied and confusing as a bowl of salt-free Chex Mix and the tears came and went. But mostly the room was filled with hard, deep laughter, the kind that makes you pee just a little and look around to see if anyone noticed.
I miss my grandfather and I miss his laughter. I mourn my grandfather and I mourn for his children. But I accept and understand and respect the laws of nature and the handbook that Father Time wrote in sand even before Cleopatra got her period. I don’t have to like it but I get it.
But come one. A man in his prime with a wit as sharp as an ice pick and personality as illuminating, irritating and electrifying as any Rick James B-side should not be fighting for his life and hoping to hear his infant son one day say, “Fuck you, Dad. I am NOT grounded” before stealing the car keys.
Whether an over-mentioned box of chocolates or a crappy carton of broken eggs, life is messy and sticky and right now I can’t find the mop.