Sadness has a sound and color. The sound is grief, the color – mist. Significant shadings cast the tone that eventually settles into a distorted self- image. It is not an image that I want to carry or acknowledge. Security is something that has eluded me during the span and experience of my years.
I collapsed emotionally last year, after losing my mother, step father, and 2/3 of my income to an unforgiving and unrelenting economy. I’d cried to a God of my understanding to have compassion, but his arm, it seemed, was stretched forth in continuous retribution for wrongs that I’d not committed. Was it the Roman Catholic upbringing that cracked beneath a withering onslaught? The marriage that I’d worked to secure had shattered a decade before. My profession, media sales, was under attack. Jobs were scarce and men were rare. I listened as my sisters’ discussed their firm futures with husbands and savings in place. I envisioned myself years hence shuffling through a welfare hotel, sharing cans of cat food with my precious pets, who bore witness to my anguish and comforted my sleepless nights.
Pain was a constant companion as I tried to work out the angles of an incongruous, impossible equation. How was I going to find the wits, the skill, to rebuild my life again, in my late forties? I started selling pieces of jewelry, grateful that my obsession had been for something that retained some value. One cherished piece after another was placed onto the scale and weighed in the balance. The ring that i bought in Mykonos, the bracelet that my mother had given me the first Christmas after my divorce, the weighty gold chain that my mother had pressed into my hands, saying that this was an expensive piece, cautioning me not to lose it. Could any of my negative selves have imagined that I’d be bartering these memories for another month’s mortgage, maintenance? That I’d be negotiating time with time, hoping that I’d get another job before my gold had run out?
Where do you go when you feel that your options are slim? I’ve tried to go to grace and hope. I’ve promised myself that I will do my best each day. I will respond to appropriate jobs, go to the gym, be patient and kind to myself. That is challenging. If I take the right measures, then surely right results will follow, I think.
My sister berates me from the depths of her secure throne. She hasn’t worked in ten years but she offers career advice. Find another profession. Do something new. Go back to school, she admonishes with a sting in her voice. Sure, and I’ll bring you back a golden unicorn horn at the end of my journey. How easily one can dispense advice when calling from within the shelter of an over protective, solicitous husband. She tells me that she no longer feels any connection to our older sister and my small family fractures a little further. The holidays loom, silent and unforgiving. Where are the packages and lights, the people from earlier years? She is not judging but she reminds me that our eldest sister did not attend my mother’s funeral mass. I was too numbed by grief to remember. Could that possibly have happened? Did she really not come to my mother’s services? No, she didn’t. A splintered family splinters further until no shapes are left but the breath of ghosts. How have we been so diminished? We were rarely happy but we had a small devoted unit that managed to survive the dysfunction and chaos. We are now the older generation, having laid our cherished and flawed elders to rest. Who will now lead the way?