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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Experience · #2142293
Sometimes we get stuck in the stages of grief and it covers us completely.
I got up early today and read a little of that gigantic book you left behind. The one about the rowing. I feel like I read pages and pages and yet make very little progress. I read it now as punishment. As penitence. Like kneeling on those boards we saw in the churches in Mexico, with the nails poking up through them all in neat rows. Ok, maybe not exactly like that. My knees were not bleeding from 20 small, round, fresh wounds when I stand up. But still, the pain is there.

To break my thought pattern, though, I head to the gym at 5:15 a.m. for cycling class. I stay on the opposite side of the class than is typical for me, so I can't see that painting on the wall that reminds me of your profile. It hides behind the instructors bald head. I focus on the pedal strokes, the rhythm of the music, and nothing else. In my head, I take the thought of you, all the thoughts of you (which frankly are tied into every stinking thing in my life, in my day, in my work) and I open a large steel box with a huge padlock on it. I shove them inside, as I begin to warm up. I lock the box. I set on top of the box a large elephant. A cartoon elephant, but huge, with a lot of heft. He seems happy enough to sit on you, but just in case, I pile on the four gorillas that used to rock out on top of my car to Salt and Peppa's "Push" on my way to and from Radiation Treatment six years ago. They were happy to be of service again as well. It's been a while since we'd seen each other.

Everything secured and out of the way for the moment, I concentrate the next rounds of sprints on flat ground. I try to go one power level above what's called for. Remember when we were kids? How when you would be upset or feeling out of control you would ride and ride your bike until you couldn't go any farther? Or how I would walk out into the woods, for hours, without stopping, trying to out-walk the fighting, the angry voices, the self doubt? Like that. Pushing harder and harder. Until there was no more room for anything else.
And then the instructor called out, "Let's start with our lifts, on my count". Because I can't completely shut out all thoughts, I begin to think about how to address my elderly mother getting past Step 4 in her 12 Step Program. She's been stuck on it for three years. I have been neglecting this issue and I feel a responsibility about it. With all my free time now, I think, maybe tomorrow I will head over with my notebook and make her sit down and do it. We can read Step 4 and review her worksheet. It's a tough one, I know. But I will tell her, here, I'll work it with you. I will divide the paper in half, one half for her and one for me. The best way to lead is by example, no? So I will start her side.... 1. Your husband had to call the police more than once because you were highly intoxicated and threatening to commit suicide. Then my side? First thought that came to mind: 1. I killed my unborn child 30 years ago. Wham! Tears come full on. I was not expecting that. Deeply I take a breath, and then another, trying to keep the beat of the music. Clearly I did not secure all of my rampant heart. I try again. Another box. Another lock. New topic....what is safe to think about?

Instructor pipes in, "Now we head to the hills for endurance and strength work", and the next song came on the speaker... And with the first few chords of Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls again, I am struggling through tears and snot...

And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now.....

I struggle to recover. I wipe my face repeatedly with my towel and drink some water. But the song continues.

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it's over
I just don't wanna miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

"Great job people!" shouts the instructor. "Let' s cool down now." And then good old Jim Croce comes on:

Operator, well, could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded.

Come on, I think. Who plays Jim Croce in a spinning class? My pedals slow.

So I can call just to tell them I' m fine and to show
I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn't real but that's not the way it feels

I put my head down on the handle bars and just breathe, with my eyes closed.

Operator, well, let's forget about this call
There's no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time
Oh, you've been so much more than kind
You can keep the dime

After showering and attending a business meeting at which I cannot tell you a thing that was discussed, I headed to a funeral for a friend's mother. She killed herself. Shot herself in the head Sunday. Her note said she couldn't live with the pain anymore.

Then I had an appointment.

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