Thursday, 8/30/01—Monday, 9/03/01part three part five
The Visit (continued)
Little brother wakes us up before 8am, full of running chatter and sporting a pirate costume.
I am anxious to visit with Dave while the day is young. He calls me “my dear”, ”my darling”–expressions, like all terms of endearment, that he could not abide while we were married. I am unnerved and moved. Fleetingly concerned that he is mistaking me for his wife.
Dave’s younger brother arrives. It is so good to see him and visit. I really liked my brother-in-law when I first met him (he was 16 to my 18), before he turned into an arch conservative. Time and experience seems to have mellowed him. I’d forgotten how strikingly good-looking he is. I am grateful for his presence.
We spend the day moving boxes and furniture. All is chaos, but somehow we manage to help organize things a bit.
Dave becomes fatigued by early afternoon and naps for a long time. A glimpse of him asleep on his younger daughter’s bed while she reads beside him is poignant. I quell the rising grief and tears and try to keep busy. Daughter periodically escapes to nap in the attic room. I am sympathetic yet mildly irritated–she is here to help and I want her to stop being the carefree child. But I say very little, godknows she’s going through enough.
In the unpacking I come across an album filled with photos from Dave’s and my early years of marriage. He kept most of our photos and doled out a lean portion to me during the divorce. I haven’t seen many of these for 17 or so years. I am hungry for the images and memories that part of me feels are mine. I want desperately to take this book, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
Before I left Houston, I called a couple of old friends of Dave’s and mine and ask them to contact some others. I am not very popular with that group after leaving Dave (and having affairs with a couple of them). Their reactions are both cordial and cold. I am glad I contacted them, but just as glad to be done with that.
It turns out that two other people from that group end up coming to see Dave the same weekend that I’m there. Old home week. It’s all so strange and right. I find myself comfortable with who I’ve become.
Another old high school friend of mine picks me up for dinner and I am relieved to leave the bustle and noise of guests and children. I am nervous about reconnecting with my friend but it all turns out well. We eat, talk, drink, and look at photos. Each day is hard work and healing. She takes me back and I am grateful for the now quiet house and comfortable bed.
Sunday morning is cool and sunny and beautiful. Dave's wife runs to the bakery and I have a few moments with him while the small children are still sleeping. Every moment is precious. We reaffirm our love for each other. We talk about how happy we are with our respective partners. We talk about our children and how much joy they have brought us. He says “wife” “ex-wife” “daughter” and “son” as he refers to people. He cannot always call up our names.
His wife has removed his stitches (so handy to have a nurse in the house!) and he has dressed up a bit this morning. I am tickled to see this small vanity. I show him some of my projects and he is so happy that I’m enjoying my work. I wince inwardly as it hits me again that he will never hold another job.
I am riding a large PMS wave and feel even more emotionally torqued about the already emotional situation. Can’t even think about saying good bye to him. Again and again, I feel myself hoping for a miracle and know that my hopes are unrealistic. The results of the biopsy are inconclusive but it doesn’t matter—malignant or benign, this tumor is going to kill him. But first, it is going to rob him of his brilliant mind, destroy his ability to communicate and steal his memory. There is no focal point for helpless rage.
I prepare to leave. Daughter needs to be at the airport for a 3pm flight. Dave is visiting with friends. So much activity is exhausting him. I wish they would leave or let him rest. I go in to say good-bye and don’t care that the room is full of people. We embrace, weep and kiss each other’s cheeks. I tell him that I love him and he says the same. I will probably never see him again. If I do, he may not even know me or be able to communicate with me. It is too painful to contemplate. I leave as quickly as I can.
Thankgod I have given myself plenty of time to get places all weekend. I continue to be plagued with travel problems.
I need to find a gas station and fill up the rental car. United Airlines couldn’t find Daughter’s name on her flight because, as it turns out, her flight doesn’t leave until the next day. I drive her back to West Newton, then turn around and drive back to the airport only to discover that the rental car return place was relocated (during massive airport construction) offsite. Gas up again, find the Thrifty place and take the van to the terminal. Just before walking through the electronic detectors, I reach into my pockets to empty the change and find the damn rental car key. Jeez. I call from the airport free phone, then track down the next van driver to arrive and hand him the key. A comedy of errors. Only it's not really that funny.
Finally, I arrive at my gate with more than an hour to wait. Tried to call my sisters with no luck. Ended up calling my friends M & T at their lake house west of San Antonio. I had been able to contain the bulk of my sorrow for three days and now the damn dam was breaking. Thank goodness M was there. After we talked I felt calmer and sat down to write this rambling account.
It’s odd how conscious I’ve become now of normal memory “blips.” When I can’t remember something, I’m keenly aware of the process by which we, usually, successfully retrieve words and concepts.
Dave's wife told me today that he woke her up in the wee hours to tell her that he was so grateful that I had come to see him in spite of the fact that he had behaved so badly toward me. Old wounds and residual bitterness fade further away.
I feel scrubbed pure…bruised from the vigor of the cleansing and fatigued. Drained by the rigor of these past three days, I want to lie naked between cool fresh sheets and weep until I have no more tears. I want to sleep and sleep and sleep, quietly in Barbara’s arms.