I am almost done reading a book. The first in more than a year. In fact the very last book I read was that terrible vampire series book, #4, whatever it was called (sorry y'all who love those... I do not mean that as a slight to you for loving them. I just did not.) It was like pulling teeth to finish that damned thing. Any who, Olive Kitteridge is a superb book. I am thrilled to have actually read a book. Not a magazine, not a catalog (which technically is NOT reading, but shopping), not a children's book, etc, etc.
I got to thinking about why I stopped reading. Here's the deal. This is a story wrapped up in a story so get a drink, coffee, wine, vodka tonic, glass oh water for those of you really living on the edge. Barbara, Kevin's mom died, one year ago, this morning. Early in the morning. We were packed up and set to head back to the states that very morning. Marisa was sick, we had been there for almost 14 days and we all just wanted to go home for a bit. Kevin was going to get us home and come back to be with his Mom. That was the plan.
Kevin stayed late with his Mom at the hospital. She was agitated, in a huge amount of pain. Kevin was terrified. He held her hand and told her he loved her. He got a nurse to give her some pain meds and she fell asleep. He stayed late. He was the last person to see her alive.
At sometime around 3:40a in the morning, Matthew woke up from a dead sleep SCREAMING. It took both Kevin and I to calm him down. He could not breath he was screaming so loudly. Than the phone rang the very moment he calmed down. The hospital called and told Henry, Kevin's Dad, that Barb passed away at 3:40am. At the time, we did not think about the fact that Matthew woke up at the very moment that Barb died. Also, nothing has ever been the same in our house since. Barb was a huge part of our lives. Kevin adored her. She did it all. She was truly a MOM. She worked nights as a nurse so she could spend time with her kids and man was she just ever into being a Mom.
So a couple of months later, we went back to Canada for a wedding. Henry was in the process of cleaning, dumping, trying to figure out how to start over after 36 years of marriage. Kevin and I tried to help out. For me it was the eye opening experience. Barb was most definitely a hoarder. She never threw things away much to Henry's near constant chagrin. She saved things for all of their marriage. For instance, a trunk they had to break the lock on contained gifts from THEIR wedding. Unopened, unused gifts. From 1973...
I watched Henry and Kevin dig through drawers and boxes and bins. She did tons of crafts and projects for/with the kids. Amazing costumes for ice skating and crafty things I am sure she did with her girlfriends at a younger age, macrame and clay and sewing projects. I watched most of that "stuff" go to Goodwill or in the trash. I was horrified. For me, I got the sense of what the fuck was the point of all that STUFF. Kevin nor Henry could not remember what most of it was from or what it meant and they were willing to dump it in the trash because no one could tell the stories but Barb. And she was gone. In that moment, I realize NOW, I went home and stopped caring about all of the little crafts and projects because in the end my kids are mostly going to remember me and Kevin and what we did together on a different level than I think I envisioned before Barb died.
The photos about killed me. Kevin had to go through those for her service. The appalling thing about the photos were the lack of pictures of THEM. He said there lots of scenes from the vacations but not many with Barb in it since she was taking the pictures. And not many with all of them in it. I know I made a very distinct change in how I take pictures on vacation. I take a lot and I try to get into some of them, double chin and fat ass included. I do not want to die and not have any pictures of us, me, them.
Than Henry plunked down about 100 books at my feet and said "do you want any of these?" They were Barb's books. I stared in awe and wonder. She was a reader. She read like a mad woman sometimes 2 books seemingly a day when she would visit us. I think at the very moment I gave up reading. It felt pointless to read and gather all that information, to learn and try to understand human nature through books. The sense of euphoria and love I had for reading dissolved. I could not imagine wasting time in my life on reading. I took up running instead, ha! But seriously. I took a lot of those books because they were good ones that I want to eventually read and they are currently piled on the floor in the basement room awaiting a book shelf to live on. Maybe I will read them too.
This morning at around 3:40am, Matthew woke up screaming, I kid you not. He had peed his bed, something he has not done in well over a year, and he said he had a bad dream.... When Kevin pointed it out to me that it was the EXACT same time as one year ago when Barb let go and passed away, it sent chills down my back. Matthew was always deeply connected to Barb. He always asked to speak with her and talked about her and knew her instantly in pictures and adored playing with her. Connections are hard to break when they involve deep love, I suppose.
I am enjoying this book and I feel like I can read again, feeling the pleasure of holding a book and turning the pages. I feel less and more everyday about life without Barb in it. Kevin and I shared a cry on Monday evening about her. Mostly because yesterday would have been their 37th wedding anniversary. Mostly because Barb is not here in person to share in the delights we know her grandkids would have brought her. Most simply because she is gone and she left a huge hole in our lives that we have been trying with all of our might to fill up. A hole that profoundly affected our marriage to the core.
All of this is a vast reminder to live life to the fullest... that all of those crafts and trips and books WERE meaningful and that Barb enjoyed a deep rich loving lifetime.
Most definitely, her life and death are a near constant reminder to me that life is precious.