Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Scratch on the Surface of Death

My friend Melissa died.  Her phone number is on my phone.  Her email is there too.  You can see her in the picture above.  Melissa is no longer alive.

I remember when my friends, a few of them, got married.  That was weird in a sense because we are just too young.  But it happens.  I remember when the first of friends got divorced.  Young, but statistics say it is supposed to happen.  I remember when friends had children.  Cool.  We are young, but cool... and that happens.

If any of us died when we were 19 or so from a stupid car accident, well then that would be tragic but understandable.  We are in our early thirties and we all survived that so what the hell is up with Melissa not existing as I know her anymore?  Melissa is the first friend to die and I am not quite ready or equipped to deal.

I have only had to deal with a couple of deaths on a personal level and I have not been successful in dealing with either of two significant and particular losses.  My grandfather died when I was in middle school and I have not fully processed his death.  I love him.  I miss him.  I am not over loosing him in my life and I am now in my 30's.  Just a couple of years ago my dog Agusta died.  Every, of only a few, dogs I have ever had are dead by now except Monte who we have and who is struggling to sleep near me as I type this.  But the first two dogs were from when I was four and then there was recently Agusta and I have still not fully dealt with his no longer being.  I love him.  I miss him.  We had a thing.

I have gone to other funerals.  I have cried for others leaving this world whom I appreciated but never completely bonded with.

I am not over my grandpa or Agusta.  I don't want to make it sound like they were the same.  They were very different in my life and those two holes in my life are very different and remain empty with a sense of longing and pain to fill the void.

But today, today I heard the news that my friend Melissa died.  Unexpected.  Young.  No longer here as we know her.

I have a large circle of friends.  I mention this because I think it is remarkable that this group of friends exists and it is a statistical anomaly.  It's a lot of people who are pretty darn close and have remained so over many years.  Within that group some bonds are closer than others.  Melissa is one of these friends who is well within this group.  She has been there forever it would seem.  She has been there while I have grown and with a hug we have talked and respected and listened and loved.  I won't play this up.  I won't pretend that I am one of the friends that had that closest of bonds that forms between all of us to some others within the group but I would have, and she would have, come to the aid of the other if ever called on.  And if not needed, we would have listened to the story that resulted, big or small.  And I am simply not ready to process this loss.

Today I got the call that Melissa was visiting family on the East Coast when she experienced a blood clot and died.  Matt was the one to call me.  They were just words.  I felt the concern... but they were still words.  Matt and Mitra hosted a Remembering gathering at their house tonight.  Tami, Enzo and I joined.  There were so many friends.  Such a crowd of good people.  Any human would be so lucky to have such caliber and mass to think upon their passing.  Melissa had that.  She has this.

And I am not ready to deal.  I will process in time.  Eventually Tami took Enzo home to bed but left me because she knew that I needed it.  I would get a ride home later.  Kissing her good buy I said thank you and that I would not be able to process this completely tonight but it will come up later and I will need Tami to talk with when that happens.  Tami said she knew that and kissed me.  Thanks Love.

I am just one of many good friends to Melissa.   Not even her super close friend but definitely a very good friend within this anomaly of friends circle.  And still, I think..... did I hug her enough?  Did I let her know she was cared for, loved, thought of, appreciated enough?  When she was at my son's birthday and I hugged her several times and talked to her and smiled and looked at her.... did I make it obvious to her that she was more than a simple mass moving through the Universe?

I know this is silly.  I know these are of those genre of thoughts that need to be countered.  I know there is nothing more I could do now or could have known then,  and I still have these thoughts.

Melissa, I miss you now.  I hope you felt loved when I hugged you.  I hope you felt more important than a rock whenever I saw you.  I hope I never ignored you and if I did I hope neither of us noticed.  I hope your existence was interesting and I am glad for your sake, and for ours, that you were here on earth.  With my love, I wish you goodness and give you my gratitude and appreciation for your existence.

To my grandpa..... I don't know that I will ever have the strength or mentality to get over you being here next to me.  I really miss hugging you.  It is because of you having to leave that I try to let Grandma and Uncle and Mom and Dad and Katrina and Tami and Enzo and Nina and Nino and my cousins and my family and my friends know that I love them.  When you have shown yourself in my dreams I have felt soooo good to be able to hug you again.  Thank you for those visits.  They mean so much to me.  Thank you for your love and your time with me in the waking world.  You deserve so many more words than I can offer you here.

To my Agusta.  I don't know how to describe the quick friendship and love that we shared but I feel awesome in that I have no doubt that it was mutual.  You were this little dog of wisdom and I so wish you could see my family now and that I could still snuggle with you.  Enzo would adore you and you would adore him.  I look forward to you visiting us in my dreams some day.  You had so much life before you came into mine but I thank you for sharing your last days with me.  I hope I was able to show you love and comfort and appreciation.  I hope it was obvious beyond doubt every day.

I don't know how we can live thinking about death.  I don't know how we can accept death of loved ones without wondering if we gave enough during life.  I don't know how I can give enough every day to those whom I love.

I just don't know.

I can't do it any better.  I don't do it enough.  I am just barely pulling off this life that I have.

There are others who matter and have left.  My Tia Soila and Tio Quate, for example.  It's a full enough world to deal with with out having to say good bye to any one.  I know death happens.  I am not great at dealing with this knowledge.

If I die any time, and you happen to care about me, just know that I do feel loved---- VERY much.  I do feel LUCKY to be here and it's been a superb existence.  Have no doubt that I have savored the hugs and the love and the time and the experiences during my existence.  My time interacting and being with you has been appreciated.  You need not doubt with me.

And I assure you, that if I have hugged you with warmth, if I have spoken to you with warmth, if I have alluded to warmth... well, I meant it.  You deserve all that I gave and more.  Thank you for all you gave and all you intended.

And for today, one of Melissa's days, I will have to be satisfied with that.  Soon, I will have to try and process that Melissa is gone and hope that I can feel satisfied that I did my part in letting her know through my hugs and conversations that she mattered and I cared.  I will also have to by satisfied that I will hug her no more in this tangible world.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Slowest Way to Feed a Dog

 (Enzo playing at the beach during a recent trip to Capitola.)

Today is Valentine's Day.  Tami had the great idea of the three of us going to breakfast before I went to work this morning.  We went to Hobee's Restaurant.  I've come to like the place a lot.  For one, they bring all kids a fruit plate arranged like a happy face without you having to ask or pay for it and they bring out right away so that your kid has something to munch on.  Second, the faces don't always look the same so one can look forward to seeing how the cook of the day makes fruit faces.  And three, there are plenty of semi-healthy options to choose from when over eating at breakfast and somewhere in my mind that helps counter the fact that breakfast places serve entirely too much food on a plate.  A soft rain, my lovely wife and beautiful child for a leisurely morning breakfast was an excellent way to start the day.  I somehow managed to escape with out eating all of my omelet so I had a bit left over to add to my lunch.

Work was fine and amusing enough as well.  I've been contemplating, between tasks of actually working,  if the perfect job isn't being a PE teacher.  That may be the way to spend the days of a life.  You get to be outside all day, interact with the young minds of the world, inspire, and wear what basically comes down to glorified pajamas with stripes down the side every day to work.  Tempting career possibility.  Seriously, that could possibly be the way I spend the last years of my education career.  Anyway....

Then it was back home to play with my son while Tami went to pregnant yoga.  Enzo and I had a blast.  I watched him do his two newest cool tricks.  He spins now.  We don't know for sure where he learned this but he really enjoys spinning around and laughing and falling and doing it all over again.  Also, he likes to walk around with his water bottle now as he knows how to tilt it back all by himself.  We all have stainless steel water bottles and Enzo has one with a sippy cup top.  Until recently Enzo would hold his water bottle but we would help to tilt it up for him.  In recent days The Kid has learned to tilt it back for him self.  Learned may not be the right word.  It's a combination of acquired strength and increased dexterity as well, I would suppose.  Like all new things with him, it's neat to watch.

We played with blocks and made music sounds and read a book about a sparkly fish and counting.  We also played with balloons for the first time.  Linda from work sent home Valentine's balloons for Enzo.  She is always thinking of him.  These are the mylar balloons, not the rubber kind which would be a chocking hazard.  The interesting thing was that The Kid was not comfortable with the balloons at first.  He certainly stared at them but he did not want to get close to them.  That surprised me.  I know balloons seem foreign to him but everything is pretty new in his world so I spent several minutes of our play trying to figure out what it was about balloons or these balloons that made him cautious when he is usually confidently curious.  Balloons are obviously different then most things we deal with on a regular basis.  I started off by playing with the balloons and making noise with them, drumming them against the floor to make a rhythm.  In a few minutes of watching me interact with the balloons, Enzo began to play with them as well.  Later, he would occasionally return to them on his own to play with them and smile and laugh and sometimes just to pull the ribbons and stare as they floated back up.  Balloons have now been added to the list of partially understood and interesting to play with items in my son's mind.

And if that wasn't already enough adventure for one evening at home, I accidentally taught Enzo how to hand feed our dog Monte.  Enzo happened to pick up a piece of Monte's food that he found on the kitchen floor.  Concerned Enzo may eat it, not because the food would not be healthy at the price we pay for it but because the chunks are a little too big as dry food for a 13 month old human baby, I gently took it from him and showed him how Monte would eat it from my outstretched hand.  Enzo took that information and melded it with the his memory that dad has recently let him play with his hands in the dog food bag while I supervised.  I figured it must feel pretty neat and it makes a neat sound to swish around a hand in a large bad of dry dog food.  Enzo then went over to the bag and opened it, took one piece out, and walked over to feed Monte.  Super cool!  Then he walked back, grabbed another piece, walked 6 feet back to Mont and fed him another piece.  And then again, and again, and again for some time.  I had enough time to warm up a bowel of soup, eat it, pick up my dishes and then make a sandwich while Enzo continued to feed Monte one or two pieces at a time.  Sometimes he would drop the food and Monte would eat the pieces off the floor.  Eventually Enzo streamlined the process by walking over to Monte, dropping the food and going back to get one to two more pieces.

The funniest example was when Enzo dropped two pieces in front of Monte while Monte looked the other way.  The fact that the dog was distracted gave Enzo the time to consider something as he stared at the food that he had dropped for Monte.  What he began thinking I will never know.  But he decided these were not the pieces they should be.  As Monte turned around to the food, Enzo was already squatted down with the two pieces of food retrieved in his hands.  He patiently stood, turned, and walked back to the dog food bag, threw them in from above, and then shoved his hand back in to retrieve two new pieces that met his approval which he walked back and dropped for Monte.  I am so curious what he was thinking.  Did they look different?  Did he consider them ineffective since Monte did not eat them immediately as he did the others?  Was he on a rhythm that he needed to keep to?

Eventually Enzo looked at me on my second half of dinner, sandwich in my mouth, and pointed to me saying "uhhhhh" which translates as "I'm hungry too big guy."   20 minutes of feeding Monte had come to an end while Enzo ate his snack.  Tami came home and we had time to chat about our day.  This was a very good Valentine's Day, like no other we have had.  We finished the evening watching another episode of "Long way Around."  It is a multi-episode  documentary about a couple of actors who take some time off from movie making to go around the world on BMW GS motorcycles.  Tami is pretty into the series and that makes it even more fun for me.  Now, if only she liked watching Top Gear.