Grandpa’s shrieking about arrest was funny in a macabre sort of way, but mainly it was profoundly upsetting. I had spent probably 30-40 days of my life with Joan, many of those days sharing hospital turns. On a day when Grandpa was very ill, Joan had been with me. We stood vigil together all through the night, she unwilling to leave me alone no matter how much I had insisted, and then unwilling the next day to take money for the evening, as she had stayed on her time, not mine.
Yet upsetting or not, what can I do? Except deal and move on? Except hold it together so everyone else can hold it together. Actually, I tried to lose it, but I didn’t get very far. When I finally got home that night, I became apoplectic when I discovered Youngest still hadn’t learned his Spanish vocabulary, despite having had two hours to look it over. Husband berated me for being out-of-control. Out-of-control?? I stormed out of the house, into the cold, into the night, into the car. I contemplated a hotel. A friend talked me down.
Husband and I were polite when I returned. The next morning, he asked me about my hormones. Husband who always gets it without exception; inexplicably, this time, he didn’t get it at all. He hadn’t stood vigil with Joan, or shared tea with her, or talked about her grandkids. He hadn’t made all those calls to her family, stunned and saddened when no one came to sit with her while we waited for her to be transferred to the morgue.
Sometimes people get used to what a trooper I am. Sometimes people get used to the fact that I keep handling all that comes. Sometimes people don’t remember that, my personal connection with Joan notwithstanding, sitting in a small flat with a dead body isn’t fun. It was horrible, in fact. I felt shocked and shaken by it all.