Yesterday, I was having what I had thought was an innocuous FaceTime with my father. There was our usual current discussion of the weather in his northeast Pennsylvania, and any snow – including what is up at our house in the Catskills. There was also the required exchange about what the new U.S. president is up to. And there was other chitchat.
As I thought we were about to sign off, abruptly he veered without warning into again reviewing my mother’s cancer and death in October 2015. Through hard personal experience, I’ve learned a lot about widowers since then. “The widower” is a particularly difficult area in our culture.
We met our late friend Kam’s younger sister, Ravi, for a meal last night in central London. They knew all these sorts of places. So while she had been to this restaurant previously, we hadn’t: La Porte des Indes:
It’s a French-Indian place behind Marble Arch tube station. If you are ever in that part of London, it is worth a try. (I also warn you, it is pricey.) Waiting for her to appear, we discovered, as you see on the Google page I captured above, that they do indeed make excellent cocktails:
A year ago today – October 12, 2015 – my novelist uncle (and my godfather) died. Incredibly, my mother would follow her brother on October 26. It has not been a “good year.”
But my recent personal “trials” had actually begun a year and some earlier: on February 2, 2014. On that day we were told (while we were in America) that Kam, our friend of two decades, had died (in London) after several years of illness. Upon hearing the depressing news, I felt sadder and sicker than I had ever felt over a death before in my entire life. A few days later, I wrote about her here.
Naturally afterwards we others out here all have to live on, but being unexpectedly confronted with a reminder of a deceased loved one can be a harshly unpleasant and emotional moment that no one else quite comprehends. In this case, I was taken aback last weekend when I saw a late 2013 photo of her – only weeks before her death – in our Irish friends’ lounge. A little while ago, I ran it through the Prisma photo app, which in one format converted it into almost the otherworldly:
It’s not always by any means, but there are times lately that I feel like the loneliest person in the world. True, I’m sure in reality I’m not. But how disturbing and ugly the feeling is.
I know it’s got to be rooted in my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths. The feeling can hit me at the most unexpected and routine of times. Last night, it caught me as I was briefly alone, washing up some dishes.
I can only describe it as feeling like walls closing in, trapped with nowhere to run. I felt like I wanted to smash the dish I was holding…. and then smash the next I could grab, and the next…. My outlook and feelings are made worse, I’m sure, by certain years-long “living” family frustrations (on both sides of the Atlantic) that I have been unable much to influence (forget about resolving them), or even to get away from, idiocies which show no signs of abating, and, indeed, seem worsening.
I accept that the deaths of close loved ones will bring you down for a while. However, I’d heard from a bereavement counselor that it’s not uncommon to feel the loss even harder some 3-6 months after the loved one has died and the rest of the world has “moved on” – but you haven’t yet. Obviously I’m about there now chronologically.
I dread this: I have to call Dad in Pennsylvania – I haven’t spoken to him in about 5 days. I want to work as usual of course, but my mind will be pre-occupied until I get this over with once more. I can’t really ring him before 12 noon UK time.
For all the years I’ve been living over here, in fact since I was a college kid, my mother was the one with whom I did most of the parental talking on the phone. She was the center of it all: information was shared with her, and she then told him. Only rarely did I talk to him for any length of time; he was never a big phone user.