Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not Forgotten

Over the weekend we noticed that we were almost out of beer.  This is an unacceptable state to be in at our house.  Clearly, action needed to be taken.

I mentioned my planned trip to QDC to a friend yesterday morning.  She had been there the day before, and told me that she heard that they were getting a wider variety of pork products in the night before.  And by "wider variety", she meant something other than the Italian luncheon meats and overly salty bacon currently on offer.  Pork chops were going to be available.  Also, they had now started opening an hour and a half earlier, which wasn't yet common knowledge.

So when I arrived at QDC, well ahead of the most of the general public, I was over the moon to see pork chops, baby back ribs, and tenderloin.  I filled my cart (read:  cleaned out their freezer), and really had to put my shoulder into it to wheel it to the till.  While I stood in the store waiting for a friend to return my call with her 'order', I went on FB and checked-in, and wrote a mildly humorous line about finding happiness in a cooler full of pork chops.

The light-hearted banter on that FB check-in continued throughout the day.  And then last evening, a good friend posted a comment on my post about finding happiness in being with her children, and the fact that she still had them.  I knew what she meant.  I knew she wasn't chastising me for being so flippant, for posting something so inconsequential.  For her, it wasn't time yet.  It was too early to be happy about anything.

The last seven days have been difficult.  The profound sadness I felt after the unthinkable in our city last Monday brought me to tears for the better part of the week.  And while this loss was not personal, it managed to become so.  I didn't know any of the families that lost children, but I know people who knew them.  Two degrees of separation.  Too close.

Grief continues to blind-side me.  A dad pushing his baby in a stroller on the compound.  A thought about stopping in to Villaggio to pick up a new shirt for B, impossible now, but the reality being so incongruous that in my subconscious, possible.  The first drive past the mall since the tragedy.  All of these things bring me to tears, unexpectedly.

And still, the question of why lingers, always.  Why that day?  Why not the middle of the night?  Why that specific, small location in what is, by all measures, a very large mall?

On Thursday, the kids' school held a memorial.  That day I signed fifteen books of condolence.  Fifteen.  Can that number be right?  Did I really stand and write something in each book?  It seems impossible that I did.  Two of those books were for families that had lost three children each.  Cue the rage.

On my way home from QDC, in my contented state, trunk full of The Forbidden Meat, I ended up driving behind a small white car that was going too slow for the speed limit and weaving back and forth across the middle lane.  No way I'm following this, I thought, and moved over to the left lane.  As I passed, I saw that there were three small children in the back seat, not one older than four-years-old, all climbing and jumping on the seats, not a seatbelt in sight.  Their mother, who was completely covered, save for the glasses poking out through her face covering, drove on, all the while reading a map that she held up on the steering wheel.  Two weeks ago, this would have been an anecdote to share with Dan later that evening with a smirk and a shake of the head.  Now, I wanted to pull her out of the car, grab her by the shoulders and scream at her.  Do you not know??  DO YOU STILL NOT KNOW ANYTHING??

I think of grief like a deep pit, with a rough, scratchy rope ladder to help you climb out.  For every rung on the ladder that you climb, there is always a little slip back.  Maybe you don't always pull yourself all the way out.

You can find me now, yelling at my kids for not putting their dishes away, posting something funny, and complaining about how long it takes to get N's phone fixed here.  But that doesn't mean that there's not an hour that goes by that I don't think about those 19 people who died here last week, and that sometimes, it still moves me to tears.  It will go on:  the yelling, the jokes, the complaining, and the grief.  All of this, all together.  To be continued.


  1. Donna-
    I know how you feel. I have that rage feeling many times watching the kids flop all over the place while someone is driving.

    Great meeting you today face to face!! Love the blog. You have inspired me to get off of my rear end and get writing again.

    Have a great summer!!


    1. I'm going to hold you to that, Jim. Can't wait to see your long-awaited post!

      I should tell you that you were the first person to follow my blog that I didn't know personally (or provide a cash kickback to). It was great to finally meet you in person today.

      Enjoy your much-deserved summer vacation!


  2. Donna, the yelling and the complaining is actually all part of loving. I love my kids like that almost every day. :) And amid all that loving I hug them, support them, tell them I love them and brag about them (when they have done something good of course). Never feel bad for loving in all those ways. And if pork chops brought you a bit of happiness at that moment, well good for you.