Hay! Hay, you!
I wanna talk to you.
But then… everything, all this, floors you. me.
We decided to go out for drinks. A lot of us. At work. Work has been hard lately… for everyone.
Work has been hard for me in the “ahhhh! there are too many cooks in the kitchen!” or ” this is over-designed!” kind of way. [picture me with a melodramatic fist slowly shaking in the air.]
Work has been hard for Jason* in the “fuck, my mom is dying” kind of way.
And, yes, I see it. I see it now. My self-involvement. But I hadn’t seen it fully until recently. So let me go.
Jason’s mother had a heart attack whilst on vacation in Florida about two weeks ago. She never recovered. Jason [my co-worker, if you haven't caught that] flew down there immediately. Not to escape the cold, the sleet, the off-season… to see his mother, to try and save her, to try and hold her, to try and hug her, to try and say goodbye.
She never recovered. She never gained consciousness. She never looked at, recognized, her son.
They pulled the plug. After a week and a half. She wasn’t coming back. They were just keeping her alive. Machines. Machines were “they.”
She’s been holding on. She is holding on. She’s technically still alive right now… but not in the way we all know our mothers… the way we all hold our mothers, hug our moms, kiss our moms, see our moms.
Jason came home. Back to work. Home is Missoula. And work is Adventure Cycling.
We’re not that close, but we’re parts of the funniest email chains… parts of the young crowd… we are friends. He’s been back for a few days and things have been hard at work [refer to aforementioned hard-factor], so we decided to rally some people to go for a drink tonight.
I thought I’d be out for just one drink… maybe two. I mean, I have my writing class on Wednesdays and tonight was my last writing class in this series. One drink. [maybe two.]
Four of us went out for a drink right after work… two more joined later. I sat right next to Jason and we shared nachos, talked about our love for corndogs, talked about work bullshit, the fate of co-workers, the hope for our own careers, then it went silent for a second and we both noticed the music… Christmas music… Jason said…
- God, I’m really not looking forward to Christmas this year.
I put my hand on his knee.
- Oh, Jason, I’m sure.
- She did everything. She was Christmas for us.
- God, I couldn’t imagine. I just couldn’t imagine.
We all kept talking. Jason wanted to talk about it and the others around wanted to listen.
I had to go to the bathroom. I came back, drink empty, looked at my watch… almost time for writing class… looked at Jason.
- Hey, are you gonna get another drink? Cuz I was thinking about going to my writing class…
Jason looked at me, so confused… like I was insane… but, wait, not even that. He looked at me like he didn’t understand me in the least… not in an offensive way… in a genuine confusion… then he said…
- You would go to a writing class right now?
And he didn’t mean it in the, “oh, really? writing class? who are you” way. He meant it in the, “that’s what you do with your wednesday night? when your mother’s not dying?” way. It was genuine.
I shook inside.
- No, of course I’m not doing that. Mike! Hay! Another round, please.
I missed my last class and I’m not sad in the least. I mean, I am sad. All the sudden, I’m sad. But not for the loss of two and a half hours of talking with other twenty-, thirty-, forty-, fifty-somethings about their novel-in-progress. I was sad because of life. And death.
Every once in a while it hits me. Life. And death.
All the sudden my heart is filled for Jason and his family. All my love is for them.
And then I’m thankful. In a way that blows Thanksgiving out of the water; I’m thankful.
I’m thankful, first, for my family.
I am thankful for my job. [gosh, i love us. this organization. that i'm a part of this.]
I am thankful for my loved ones. My friends. Evan. The Evan that I can accidentally call “mine” every once in a while and he smiles instead of grimaces.
[and i don't know how to explain the fact that all my loved ones and myself are in costume in all of our love-expressed photos... i promise i love them not in costume and that i'm okay being myself for most of my life.]
I am thankful. “I am so blessed…” as my brother simply said in a recent text. I am.
And I know it’s not a time to think about myself right now. It’s a time to think about Jason… and his mother… and his mother’s children… the ones that are a blood relative to him and the hundreds of others whom she took in as a foster mother… wanting to give… wanting to show children they were loved… she only gave… and then she was taken.
But, I am thankful.
I hope you all know this. I am thankful for you [whoever the hell you are] and I hope you are thankful for the loves around you.
Of course I’m not going to writing class tonight.
Of course not.
*The name has been changed because a] “Jason” doesn’t even know I have a blahg. b] if Jason did knew I had a blahg, he’d probably politely request to never be mentioned on this ridiculous thing.