Sometimes I hate myself for feeling a certain way. Like: god, I’m so frustrated that I’m still mad at so-and-so for flaking out on plans. Or: I hate myself for hating the way I look today. Clearly, that pattern doesn’t get me anywhere; it just gives me another negative emotion to deal with on top of the original one. So 2012 is all about getting over that, and not apologizing to anyone about the way I feel! Because otherwise I will die alone in a beige land of numbness because I was too embarrassed to acknowledge what it’s like to be a sentient being. But, there’s a problem. Right now I think I do owe the world, and specific people contained therein, an apology for my feelings, or lack thereof.
My mom’s dad died last week, a few days after Christmas. He was 94, and is the perfect example of the live-every-day-like-it’s-your-last ethos. He was just loud. Always belting Sinatra songs, making old-man hurrumphs when he wanted attention, and punctuating every other moment with proclamations of gratitude about how awesome his life was. When he would visit us every Thanksgiving in Seattle, I’d take him to my all-girls Catholic school for a tour, and he would hit on the nuns and the underage students alike. He kissed a lot of my friends’ hands. Everywhere he went, he made a show of himself and a friend of any stranger. He was a social fixture in Kansas City, where he lived most of his life and raised my mom and her sisters. We all called him Papa, and he was a pretty dope grandfather, who is now gone.
Papa was put in hospice care right before Christmas; we knew it was coming. My mom and I talked to (well, at) him on the phone an hour before he died. His death happened the day before my second annual After Christmas Blues Party, an idea I stole directly from Papa. He used to have these big open houses every year after Christmas (which now my mom says were her idea, all right Mom), which of course were torture for my cousins and me when we were younger—they were essentially conventions for local adults seeking to pinch our cheeks. But now that I’m older, wiser, and obviously more awesome, I thought it was a great idea to appropriate, and given my mom’s somewhat recent approval about my general party habits, why not have it at her classy little townhouse in the middle of the city! The party was quite a success, with 50 buddies stopping by to flick cigarette butts into my yard and accidentally drink my mom’s champagne from the fridge. It also felt like a perfect way for me to honor Papa’s memory. I’m not into the whole all-black-wearing mourning tradition; I’d rather celebrate life. And considering that Papa died in basically the ideal way—after a long, happy life, in his sleep, surrounded by loved ones—it didn’t seem appropriate to be all morose about it.
But: I feel like I’m being less than honest. Like I’m rationalizing my insensitivity and disguising it as a well-considered joie de vivre and a superior take on death and mourning. I think my outlook of “Oh, he was really old, he had a great life, IT’S ALL OK” might be a strategy I’ve adopted to keep from feeling sad. And now I feel guilty for not being sad.
My mom, for the first few days after Papa’s death, would have little random bursts of crying. I’m pretty terrible at comforting people (getting better with my peers, but comforting people older than me feels really awkward…why?), so I’d just nod my head and be like, “Yeah, Mom…it’s sad.” Then she asked me if I ever even felt like crying. Shit! I should be crying!
What’s really going on is that I’m distracted. I’m unbreakably obsessed about returning to California after winter break. How selfish do I sound right now? I can’t help it, and I’m sorry about it. I left my sense of life back at college, and it’s all I can think about. Not to mention that my crush boy is going to be back in town upon my return, and thoughts of seeing him have taken up a lot of brain space. God, am I really so selfish that thoughts of a cute long-haired boy override my sadness over the death of my grandfather?
I know I’ll be sad at the funeral, when I’m immersed in the moment of it. But for now I can’t stop wanting to be back in MY own apartment, doing MY own things. My feelings distribution is jacked right now. I wish I could feel the feelings that this moment in my life is calling for. But all I can think about is my apartment, my friends that I miss, the feeling I get when I wake up and have the entire day open to me and no one else. And I’m so, so sorry. ♦