Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bedeviled in Pigskin

I hope it is true that a man can die
and yet not only live in others but give them life,
and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.
 ~ Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
I've crossed the threshold of double-digit months of widowdom and the absence of Boomer's daily presence in my life.  The weeks leading up month 10, grew quite gray in my feeling the Boomer love.  I went down another rabbit hole of grief and turned left, into the land of bedevilment. 

It started when I was awoken one night from a deep sleep by a potent aroma - - Boomer was in the room.   It was his scent.  A pugent blend of pheromones and post-workout sweat with a splash of Eau de Stale Booze.  So distinct it scared me.  That was a whole new grief experience, after 9 months, smelling my deceased husband.  It was unnerving and equally unpleasing -  I hated that smell - I couldn't go back to sleep.   It triggered the temporary, harsh, albeit necessary, directional change of my personal grief process.  Reconciling and making peace with the negatives within our relationship. 

1997 - Campus bio-break
2002 - Pre-game groupies "We're with the Band"
I'd been reading The Grief Recovery Handbook, by John James and Russell Friedman where they write, "All relationships include both positive and negative interactions.   We know that you can complete grief only by being totally honest with yourself and others."  In my case, the others, was simply Boomer.  An eclipse began to emerge, ironically aligned with the kickoff of college football season (read One of Us), Boomer's favorite time of year, NOT mine - - not entirely.   We have so many wonderful memories of attending high school, college, and even a few pro football games together and I can hold my own on football knowledge, something Boomer loved.   I love the experience of game day, at the actual game, taking in all the tradition, pomp and circumstance. The sometimes cool, brisk weather, crunching of autumn's fallen leaves as you trek around campuses.   Tailgating social activities, souvenir shopping in bookstores, heck, even sitting in those bleachers for 4 hours, enduring TV time-outs were more tolerable than enduring watching Boomer watch football at home on TV (or the computer) all day Saturday and Sunday.   My loathing and disinterest in football season begins and ends with the TV.  Period.

It wasn't that I felt neglected or ignored.  I always respected Boomer's love of football, I mean that is afterall how he became "Boomer" (read Every Name),  and I never begrudged him watching it.   It was in my observations, and in what I too-often overheard that lead to my silent seething loneliness and helplessness on both our behalves - - that I came to loath being a football widow.   As this year's opening weekend kicked-off,  I was writing Boomer a letter: 

My Dear Boomer, 

I miss you so much.  You know how hard I'm working to move forward and grow comfortable with how you are in my life now.  It's not easy, and there are times I don't know if it's working and then out of nowhere, I hear you say, "Don't give up SMO, you can do it."   

You know what today is - - football season.   As I trudge through this wacky, winding road of grief I was struck today with the strangest awareness.  I don't miss football on TV.  I don't miss your transformation that football on TV assisted with.   I'm sorry honey but I don't.  Not even a little.   So as we spend these reflective moments together, let me release exactly what I do not miss:
  • Your liquid viewing companion.  The alcohol was at the root of everything here I do not miss.  Most of the time, it was just the two of you, you and your mistress beverage (read Reality).   
  • Poor online connections from the choices you made.  I admired your dedication to try and listen to your sons' football games on the east coast.  But I do not miss that you thought so little of yourself to refrain from being there live to see them except for once or twice a year.  No one won there.  Your heartache and impatience grew when connections were poor and the cocktails were heavy.  And when you tried to call your sons post-games, missed contact, and returned calls were delayed - - you suffered, ached, faked being understanding, then drank more - - I do not miss watching that, listening to it, or my own anguish feelings that I had as a result.  You deserved better and were worth more than that - - is was miserably misguided self-sacrifice.  You know your youngest son is captain of the team at Penn this year - - and you're not here.   I do not miss that.
  • Phone calls with your buddy Steve (not his real name).  Pre-game, mid-game, post-game, whatever, when the liquid was flowing and you were on the phone, what I too often overheard on one-side of a conversation among two 50+ year old men regularly boarded on racism, bigotry, sexism, and misogyny, not too mention the recapping of your buddy's bar life was just juvenile.  Hmm, I always wondered...birds of a feather?   I do not miss that.
  • Volume control.  As the day's games progressed, and your mind, coordination and senses grew limited with inebriation the TV volume went up, along with your voice - - over the TV, until of course you passed out and started to snore.  Which was louder - the TV or your snoring?  Dead heat.  I do not miss that.  
  • Your smell at the end of the day, when you'd finally make your way to bed.  It was the smell that awoke me the other night and scared me terribly. 
You know how much I love you and  miss you.  Still the reality is that there genuinely are things I do not miss.  Heck, if the tables were turned, I hope you'd do the same.  I know what you're saying, "Oh no, my SMO's perfect," in your soft, wry, loving tone of voice.    To which we'd both be cracking up.  So I know you know, I needed to spend some time here, it wouldn't help my healing to pretend that there's no negative stuff to look at and come to terms with.  Truth is, I think that's why you showed up in the bedroom the other night that way - - to guide me here to reconcile it.  For you , for me , for us.  For now, I can comfortably consolidate alot of it into football on TV.  Consider it done.  I'm changing the channel now.  Thank you Boomer.  xo
1998 - Tailgate
I never imagined I'd be quoting Kerouac, and yet here I am.  For me, it is truly through Boomer's life, my life with him, and in his passing my own consciousness has been greatly magnified.  He will forever live within me, showing me, guiding me, and encouraging me as I continue to breathe a new life.  That's exactly what he wants - for us both.  

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