Anyway, the recitals in particular, and dance preparations in general have been harder emotionally than I would have thought. It feels wrong to me to see my children achieve success and to mourn it because their mother isn't here to share it with, but that's what I was feeling. And that feeling felt wrong and I just had to sort of...think myself though it.
Leslie is the one who never stopped trying to find a dance studio that would take Lily in, and give her a chance to do something that incorporated her two greatest strengths...love of music, and love of movement. Sooooooo much movement.
So seeing Lily on stage (Leslie was always backstage helping get Lily ready to go on, but never got to enjoy from the crowd), and feeling the warmth of the crowd (no snickers, no mocking, no laughter) and see the hands waving silently in accommodative applause was at the same time such a happy feeling, and also so empty.
|anxious...I'm pretty sure she's "visualizing" right here.|
And Leslie was also the one who danced when she was young and always tried to help Emma with her hand movements and technique, and to see Emma, so poised on stage, her dancing so beautiful and graceful and her face just emoting...joy...was such a happy feeling but again...so empty.
I was telling a friend that I think what I've struggled most with of late is the loss of that...sounding board/partner/bestfriend that were all represented by Leslie. I make friends relatively easily when I try, but I don't often try, and for twenty years Leslie has represented, for the most part, the only friend I really felt like I needed. And now she's gone, and the person I want to text pictures of the girls to, or tell about "this thing that Lily just said" or brainstorm some social issue that Emma's dealing with...is silent. And she can't really be replaced. And I have friends I can talk to, and I have family members who care about me and my family and who I can tell things to, but it's not the same, and I've really been missing that.
So the recital happened and I wanted to text pictures and send messages and I couldn't. Or...I could, but I couldn't send them to the person whose life revolved around those kids exactly the same amount as mine did...and does.
Sunday had been a series of personal failures. They were all more or less trivial, but taken in the aggregate just pushed me into a funk that I struggled with until the end of last night when i finally switched off the light and let sleep claim me.
I suck at organizing. Maybe I actually don't "suck" at it. I just don't do it. I'm not practiced at it. That part of the partnership was Leslie. She required it. I just went with it; flew by the seat of my pants. But her organization allowed me to succeed at flying by the seat of my pants because there was rarely ever any reason for me to have to do so, and my ability to react to whatever was left over unaddressed allowed her not to stress out that every last detail wasn't completely planned out. We fit.
So now I have to start organizing. Especially now, since the vacation is Friday, and it was just one thing after another on Sunday and they were all just a little too much.
Emma asked for mac and cheese for lunch. I started boiling water and realized I was out of mac and cheese, and groceries weren't coming until Wednesday. So I switched gears on the fly, and made hot dogs, but after grilling them realized we were out of hot dog buns. Then we were invited to a pool party after the recital and the only swim suit I could find for Lily was too big (and we're going to the BEACH!). Later I had to feed Emma supper but realized I had nothing made, and I'd have to make her eat frozen pizza for the second night in a row because there really wasn't anything else I could make quickly. I hadn't cleaned the minivan's carpets or started packing...there'd just been too much to do that weekend. Emma left the performance in a surly mood because people had been talking about a cast party scheduled for today, but nobody had told her...and she felt left out...only to realize the cast party information had been sent to me the week before in an email, and I was the reason she didn't know.
And I felt like I wasn't treading water anymore. I felt like I was going under. I remember thinking...well...this is it, I made it two months before complete system shutdown. Laundry wasn't done yet, some stuff was folded, not put away. My kitchen island was a nightmare, papers everywhere. My dining room was the same. The plants that got sent home with us from the funeral were slowly turning brown as I brain farted my way through the occasional waterings that were slowly killing them with my too-casual neglect.
All of which is maybe an overdramatization, but it was how Sunday felt to me. I post these blogs and people I think get the impression that I'm super dad. And I do try. I try to do my best, and I think for the most part my best is pretty fucking good. Maybe great. But I doubt and struggle and question and all the stuff that isn't necessarily the stuff of weekly blog postings.
I had a rough time last week too, around the time of Kennywood. And I got through it by making lists and tackling the things on the list one at a time. I got through it with the help of friends and family...offering rides, or errands, or an ear. And so I started my list for the vacation and last night I steam cleaned the van carpets (holy shit, if you've never done that...it's like they're new again) and started talking to Emma about packing and making plans for laundry and the week. And I feel more on track again. But it's not my forte.
So here's your Leslie story...
Six weeks after Leslie died, her office offered a memorial service on campus for her work friends who hadn't gotten to go to the viewings or funeral, and so I headed up with my in-laws and parents to sit in and shake hands, give/receive hugs and remember Leslie.
I called off work that morning, so I was at home when the truck showed up in the cul-de-sac. School was still in session, and Lily's bus hadn't arrived yet to pick her up, but I looked out the window as I passed the front door, anticipating it. It looked like maybe the neighbors had hired a grass contractor, because the truck had a lawn mower and some shovels in it. I got Lily ready for school and we walked out to greet the bus. It was my friend Jimmy in the truck he'd bought the week before.
I scowled at him and motioned questioningly to the bed of his truck with my head.
"What's uh...what's going on here?"
And he confessed that he'd sort of fucked up the "surprise" but a bunch of people were coming over to mow the lawn and lay mulch and do outside stuff that they knew I hadn't gotten an opportunity to tackle. And I felt uncomfortable, but grateful and after chatting briefly went back in the house to get ready for the memorial service. A half hour later two more people had joined Jimmy. One was Jen, a former dance mom whose daughter was friends with Emma, and whose mother had been bringing Leslie communion at home for months.
"You know, Leslie set this all up months ago," she told me. I had NOT known. "She felt bad that so much had fallen on you and didn't want you to have to do all the outside work too. She organized it months ago and this was the first free time we all had."
And I let all that sink in as I drove to the memorial. Even dead, she was still taking care of me. She remains more organized than I am even from the fucking grave. It's sweet and sad and so Leslie. And when I got home the yard was mulched, and flowers were in the pots in front of the house, and shrubs were trimmed and trees pruned and it was more than I knew I'd have done. More than I would have thought to have done.
And I know I don't have to learn to be Leslie, but I do need to be more organized. And I know that I can't just accept the duties associated with Leslie's share of the partnership overnight because that post has been vacated. I know I need to ask for help. I know I need to open myself more to friendships.
These are things Leslie and I talked about when we learned she was dying...ways for me to succeed...open up more, ask for help, and accept help when it's offered.
So last night I started making my lists and tackling things one at a time and today I feel better again. Back to myself. But maybe slightly better organized. At least for today.