Tonight as I washed the dishes, I noticed that my kitchen floor was dirty. I dried the plates and set them down onto the kitchen table. The dish rack had already become a modern art sculpture of drying bowls, pans and glasses so the table was the next logical choice. Placing the mop bucket into the sink, I reached under the sink to get the Meyer’s cleaner. One of the cats was pondering whether to jump onto the table, saw me staring at him and decided the chair was a better place for him.
The scent of rosemary and lemon filled the air. Our hot water heater is on the fritz so I filled the bucket carefully. I have no desire to waste any hot water. Karma could come in the form of an icy shower in the morning so the ratio of detergent to water must be precise.I grab the mop and place it headfirst into the cloud of lemony-rosemary bubbles. There is a rustling of paper bags behind me. The other cat decided that watching me mop the floor could be entertaining.
The dishes are done. Coffee is all set for the morning. I bring the mop over to the blobs of mud that magically appeared on the floor this afternoon. I glance at the clock. 10:40 PM. I have to get up early tomorrow for an appointment in Waltham. What the hell am I doing mopping the floor this late? I stopped. Wait a sec. I’m mopping. I’m actually cleaning.
So why is this a big deal? Shouldn’t people always keep their kitchen floors and counters clean? Well, yeah. They should! Especially when they have children, one of which has a compromised system. This entire week I have been either straightening the cellar out, re-arranging the living room, and getting rid of clutter. Last week, I spent my days binge-watching ‘Grace and Frankie’, ‘Victoria’, and documentaries about food production in the US while laying on the couch.
For the past 18+ months, I have been laying on the couch barely doing anything that was not essential. Screw that- I missed essential shit too. The blanket on top of me made me feel cozy and I would be there for as long and often as possible. I napped, ate my meals, scrolled through Facebook, and occasionally socially interacted on the couch. I didn’t clean. I didn’t go out. I stopped going to the meetings that ultimately saved my life 18 years ago.
I just laid there and waited for it to end.
October 6, 2016 my father passed away unexpectedly. I didn’t expect him to die. I thought I had more time. He was supposed to have met my younger two children. They were supposed to hear his jokes and stories about how silly their mother was when she was their age. I would have that chance for us to be together.
I have been grieving that chance since October 6, 2016. As complicated and difficult our relationship was, I held onto hope that I would always have that chance of being with him. There was always that chance that once again I feel that connection with the man I called ‘Dad’. That chance disappeared that Saturday morning when I heard my sister softly tell me in a shocked whisper that he was gone.
I had my moments of tears during the days after his death. I figured that since we didn’t have the best relationship, I wouldn’t grieve like my sister. I was right about one thing. I wouldn’t grieve like her. I have been grieving like me. My way of grieving is laying on the couch, eating bags of Smartfood, and watching Netflix to oblivion. Here is the moment my sobriety had prepared me for, and I choose to do the opposite of what I needed. My choice was based on what I wanted, and what I wanted was to be on the couch.
As I mopped the kitchen floor tonight, I realized that I was beginning to care about little things again. I made healthy dinners for myself and Melissa to have during the week. I cleaned and straightened up Liz’s bedroom. I made room in the cellar for the clutter I had upstairs, but I also made sure I wasn’t replacing clutter with more clutter. I threw things away. Even my old AppleCare policy from 2007.
This past October, I started a new job – coincidentally on October 6th. I traded my Whole Foods apron for a navy blue shirt and jeans. My confidence began to grow as I learned how to channel my passion for all things Apple. In January, I purchased an Applewatch. I include this in my progression because it was the activity rings that gave me incentive to keep moving. I like seeing that I haven’t been laying on the couch all day.
I wrung the mop out and placed the empty bucket by the baker’s rack in my kitchen. The floor is mud-free. I am tired, but happy. It’s happening. This fog of great sadness and loss is beginning to lift. I can feel myself breathe easier. My heart doesn’t hurt as much about what could have been or what should have been. It was how it was supposed to be. My father meant the world to me. He didn’t always meet my expectations, but I was proud to have his last name, proud to be part of his family, and most of all- grateful that we had some incredible memories that will live in my heart forever.