One of my favorite lines of all time is from Young Frankenstein (coincidentally just viewed by the kids and me the other night — they were, of course, totally impressed). Dr. Frankenstein and Igor have just pushed a coffin out of a grave, and Igor says, “Could be worse. Could be raining.” Cue thunder clap and pouring rain.
I pretty much live by this phrase. Because it can always get worse.
So this last week, when I was completely spent because of the elections and my chronic pain/fibromyalgia crap, I should’ve known I was in for something good and juicy. I’m not sure why I didn’t see it coming. . .
Sunday was my cousin’s 25th birthday. Logan drowned just two months ago. I’ve apparently been actively putting this in the back of one of my mind’s dresser drawers for the past few weeks because I’ve been feeling “fine.” A little too fine.
We had a party with a bunch of his friends and lit one of those lanterns that float up like hot air balloons. It was all very funny — because we couldn’t get the thing lit — and beautiful. But I always have to read some symbolism into everything, so when that lantern went up into the night sky, red and blazing, and then suddenly went black and started falling to the ground, I couldn’t help but feel like it was just like his life.
And here’s where things get tougher. My son, Newt, who turned 10 today, was sobbing. He was, I think, the only person who was. After we went inside, he pulled me into a back room and explained why he was so upset. Reason? He saw the exact same thing I did. And it was hard for him to see everyone else so happy.
After the party, I stupidly stopped by my dad’s house to pick up some of my mom’s old Thanksgiving decorations. Since my mom died, my dad never decorates anymore, and it’s finally occurred to me that I want to see this stuff again. But when I walked into the giant storage closet where my mom so neatly kept all of her decorations, it felt so empty. The room seemed bigger, and the boxes seemed fewer. And as I took the ones I wanted and picked them up, it just felt like a few more pieces of her slipping away.
We went home that night and orchestrated a grand plot to keep Newt upstairs while his little sister, my husband, and I all took turns blowing up 45 balloons and writing messages on them. The plan was to dump them on him in the morning. All was well until I got into bed.
And then I bumped my head.
I bumped my head on the corner of my nightstand while putting my laptop away. Not a big deal, but on this particular night, it was enough to send me into a hysterical crying fit the likes of which we hadn’t seen since we were looking for Logan up at Lake Almanor.
Between being denied Logan’s quarter century mark, collecting my mother’s decorations, and becoming aware of the fact that I had a 10-year-old son — that ten years had passed in an instant, that more than half of my time with him was officially over — I lost my shit. Thank the gods my husband is a strong, empathetic grown-up.
I had to take an Ambien and play iPhone games until I fell asleep in order to deal. I couldn’t stop sobbing. It was pathetic.
This morning, we surprised Newt with the 45 balloons. At first he was completely ticked off because we woke him up and he didn’t know what was happening. But after he sat there and read a bunch of the messages, he walked out, teary-eyed, and hugged us all.
I guess that’s just how we roll in our house. Our reaction time may be a little slow, but it’s usually for a reason.
We’re just waiting to see the meaning in everything, even when it’s spelled out in big letters on a birthday balloon.