For the first time since learning our son has MD, I didn’t wake up on the unhappy anniversary date with “diagnosis day” screaming at me. I walked the dog before dawn, brewed a cup in the Keurig, leafed through the Sunday coupons, when BOOM. It hit me.
I feel some insane pull of duty to mark the occasion. That’s ridiculous, I’ll grant, but I’m big on anniversary dates. Until this year, I’d counted down the hours leading up to January 21, not because I enjoyed that, but because I was consumed with MD. Maybe this is a sign of my growing acceptance, erosion of the initial shock has dulled the blade stabbing my heart. January 21, 2015. THE day. The day that began the after.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s the myriad other tasks and responsibilities served on my already heaping plate this week. I’ve been cleaning up a mess–a hot mess, a ghost pepper/sriracha/cayenne/scotch bonnet kind of hot mess at work. It’ll be but a distant memory in a month, but for now, my full time job is made to take a back seat to accommodate this other full time job. Not that I get a pass on my actual responsibilities–it’s not that those tasks have disappeared, no, but this clean up occupies so much of my cortex that I can’t even. Ah, I can’t even finish a sentence with a verb that fits adequately is how much I can’t even.
I’m starting another school therapy assignment tomorrow, and until a few minutes ago, didn’t even know my students’ names, grades, or disabilities. I’m super good at winging it, but I want not to wing it. The kids deserve better than that on their new “speech teacher’s” first day. (It’s in quotes because I’m a speech-language pathologist, but no kid has ever referred to me as speech-language pathologist. Hell, these days, if kids aren’t referring to me as that old lady white bitch, I’m calling it a success.) Anyway, it’s unlike me to feel unprepared, and for the first time in five years, I admit to feeling a bit anxious about a new assignment. It’s probably because I’ve not buttoned up my previous assignment. See previous paragraph.
I told a colleague Friday that “being me is exercise.” She laughed, because I’m usually rife with hyperbole, but the truth is that my workweek last week and all the stuff I have to do causes my heart to race. My Fitbit read about 100 beats per minute just sitting at my desk, organizing, scheduling, calling, emailing, writing. My resting heart beat when I’m not insane is about 60. Our district is pushing a mindfulness agenda, and while I’m all for self-care and trying to focus on success and forward-thinking-ness, my workload at present gives not one tenth of one percent of a shit that I’m harried. Mindfulness, you can suck it this week, thank you very much. Check back with me around Valentine’s Day, m’kay?
I think I shall choose to look upon this work-induced “Welcome to MD” memory lapse as a gift. The gift of forgetting, or at least not springing from my bed sheets laser-focused on the big anniversary, is something I should be pleased about, right? Two of my friends and another family acquaintance lost one of their parents this week. I feel like a schmuck for having missed one funerary visitation, but I was teaching a class scheduled months ago and I just couldn’t bow out. Within the last two hours, my younger son and I returned from a second visitation; I’m so relieved not to be planning the funeral of one of my own parents.
I just completed my reading of Evicted by Matthew Desmond, and I should be jubilant that I have stable housing in a reasonably low-crime neighborhood. Evicted shall stand as a post on its own to be explored soon–it’s a horrifying ethnography of poverty and housing inequities in Milwaukee. I am jubilant that we can provide a roof over our children’s heads, and that I can let them play outside and walk to school without constant supervision. Or abject fear.
There are wiser ways to be spending a dreary, dank Sunday than forcing myself to feel something specific because it happens to be 1,096 days since I crumbled for the first time. HE is marking the occasion, as always (I think anyway), blissfully unaware. I’m gonna follow his lead. I’m going to lay my head down on this pillow Nikki sent me yesterday and read. Gonna read something light and airy–you know, murder, mayhem, lawyers, and detective-y types–no more nonfiction for me for awhile. My personal nonfiction is enough, you guys. I’m always transported while reading, and whether I’m transported to the nineteenth century, World War II-era Europe, western Pennsylvania, or Stockholm, Sweden, I’m going to distract myself, because yeah, now that I’m thinking about it, it’s all I can think about.
The traditional gift for the three year anniversary is leather; the modern gift version is crystal. Since it’s not the 80s, I don’t own much in the way of leather accoutrements, but I do have beautiful pair of crystal wineglasses. Now the only real anniversary question is this: red or white?