8 random facts: lucid dreams edition
start of week 2

Carpe diem, Mama

Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to?
You will never find the life for which you are looking.
When the gods created man
they alloted to him death,
but life they retained in their own keeping.
As for you, Gilgamesh,
fill your belly with good things;
day and night, night and day, dance and be merry,
feast and rejoice.
Let your clothes be fresh,
bathe yourself in water,
cherish the little child that holds your hand,
and make your wife happy in your embrace;

for this too is the lot of man.

 

Why aren't you here today, Mama? 

 

There are some things I could show you and tell you if you were. 

 

For example, Bob and Ray were actually very funny. You were wrong about that. You didn't get to have the internet or satellite radio, both of which you would have loved. I get to have them, and among the peculiar little pleasures they've brought me are the dry, dry, dry comedy stylings of Bob and Ray. 

 

Keely Smith is a great singer. I am thinking someone you didn't like was a fan of hers, but that's no reason not to appreciate her on her own merits. You were always a bit on the reactionary side, kind of like the man I married, but these matters deserve some consideration now and then. 

 

You would have liked this show I watch very much. It's called House, and has a whole collection of funny, smart, good-looking people in it. You would probably like Dr. Wilson because he's a lot like you, mostly in the good ways. And you'd like Dr. Cuddy very much. She looks a little bit like you, like she could be a first cousin. 

 

One of my daughters you never met really likes to sing and to harmonize. She is a little better at it than me, as you were, so I often end up taking the top line, even though my voice is lower than both of yours. But I taught her to harmonize, singing the same songs I sang with you. If you were here, we could all sing together and it would be lots of fun. 

 

After a childhood spent agonizing over pulling weeds in your organic garden and growing weary of your penchant for surrounding us with 200 year-old irons and pieces of plows and whatever those other things were, I was certain I'd own only the most contemporary decor, and never grow a vegetable myself. 

 

You would roll your eyes to see me knee deep in herbs and flowers and tomato plants. And I guess you'd laugh at my collection of musty old LIFE magazines and books. I tell everyone you were doing organic before most people even knew what that was. Also, about your wily bargaining ways with garage sale holders and junk shop dealers, back before there was a whole industry built around weekend "antiquing" trips. 

 

I wonder what you'd think of eBay?

 

We live in the part of the country where you were born. Everything is older here, and we enjoy learning about the history of how it all began; we're surrounded by it. Maybe you missed that and this is why you tried to reproduce the Colonial Era right inside our midwestern house. I get it now. You connected to the earth that way, even if you didn't possess the vocabulary to explain it to me.

 

I am about to grill a whole chicken on the barbecue, seasoned with fresh herbs I grew myself. I don't remember you ever doing that, though I know you would really like how it turns out. Also, I am making ice cream. I don't know why you never had an ice cream maker. But they're much better now than they used to be anyway. You loved ice cream so much. I am not a great lover of ice cream anymore. That might surprise you since I used to be able to eat quarts and quarts of it. However, I do enjoy making it for my family. 

 

I gave your gold bracelet from Italy to Jessica when she turned 16, over 5 years ago. Then she turned wacky for awhile, not in great big ways but in lots of little ones. And I didn't see the bracelet for a long time. I was certain that she'd lost it or given it away or done something dumb with it, but this winter I saw her wearing it and that nearly made me cry. It was a sign, to me, that she's coming out all right after all. She wishes she remembered more of you, but mostly she has only a memory of your presence, without real details. 

 

I wish there were other people around with me to remember you. 

 

When you died I was consumed with grief at never having learned to make your chicken soup or the olives. I've figured them both out, but it took a really long time. Now I like my chicken soup better, actually, but I would still like to taste yours again. And I wish you could taste mine. 

 

Next month I'm going to have the bread and cheese casserole at Andre's in Kansas City. I am willing them to serve it the day I get there, since they still often put it on their Saturday menus (this kind of information-gathering is one of the great things you'd have loved about the internet.) I hope I laugh instead of cry when I taste it again. 

 

The final 10 years of your life were largely spent wandering, confused, uncertain, and increasingly boxed in. I'm so sorry for that. I didn't understand it then and I wouldn't have known how to help. Now I'm going through so much of the same pain, at the same age yours got so big, I don't know whether it's astonishing, or just somehow inevitable. Maybe this chronic pain is inherited somehow. It's the pain of the naively optimistic; those who find giving much easier than taking, easily perplexed at the messes other people make and attempt to stew us in. To avoid them, we end up in our own messy stews. Either way, it's just messy. You tried to overcome the pain and when that didn't work, when it grew, instead, your world started to shut down. No miracles arrived in the last act, and then it was all over. 

 

But I'm going to spend the next 10 years doing things the way you should or would have done them, if only you'd known what was coming. I don't know how life will be for me at 53, however, I'm going to try to waste as little time as possible getting there. Going to let the days just stretch out in front of me, and fill them with everything good I can. 

 

I'm not expecting any miracles or even pain relief. I can live without miracles, I can live with pain. I'm grilling chicken. Listening to the breeze as it carries sunshine through the leaves on the trees. I'm painting a new picture, teaching the boys some card games, and trying out a new cleaner on the shower floor. There's always something to savor even when the days seem long and hard. I wish you were here now so I could help you know that then. 

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