Why come back to a page in a book, or a blog or a pad of paper? Why come back to the scraps on the desk noting things to do like clean, brush teeth, cook, finish an email or shovel the snow? And try to make sense of it? Why not just sit here and watch the snow falling now for almost twenty four hours? I did go out finally, at 7:00 a.m. and barely was able to push the back door open for the snow had fallen and fallen and fallen, but I did get out, out of the prison of the house and the musty smell and the stale air and the smell of rotten chickpeas in the garbage. I didn’t know chickpeas could rot and smell. Or maybe there is a half eaten chicken in there, skin and grease and raggedy little pieces of chicken flesh still clinging to the little bones, the little bones that one night, yes, I remember now, I went down to the cellar and I got out the chicken that was sitting in a pool of amber aspic. I set it down on the butcher block and at first nimbly picked it up piece by piece, broken little wings, and chubby little leg. I heated that chicken really well last night because it all just fell apart it seems and then I just took the entire carcass and started gnawing at it like a caveman. Such a little Amish chicken it was, lasting for so long.
The chicken had that wonderful umami taste and smell. Can you smell umami? Can you feel a tsunami? I can feel a tsunami, yes, I can feel the tsunami of sadness, loneliness and agony of having you gone. From me. Forever. Because yes, I have taken ownership of you now, and you are completely mine. No one can have you now that you are gone. And your goneness my dear dear dear sister, it is all mine.
But it’s too soon to agree you are gone, to believe you are gone, to see and feel and hear you are gone. Actually you are not gone in my ears yet. I hear your voice clear and strong but even there I cannot go. No, not yet, not yet. So that is why I have to go back to the little greasy chicken in the pan, to gnawing little bones, sucking out salty juices, taking a bite out of the chunk of white onion scattered on the bottom of the pan, pulpy, greasy, like a big fat gooseberry, like a big pulpy white grape gone oniony. I ate all the slender, slightly wizened, wrinkled little carrots. They were very soft and very greasy… but gee whiz they were good! It felt good saying “Gee Whiz” like a kid in the 50’s or 60’s, the old sitcoms that now we run to, run run run to the mom in the frilly apron in the kitchen making dinner, the father coming home and taking off his hat and then kissing mom and telling us to go wash our hands and come to dinner……… I thought about making soup out of the big greasy mess…..but I had a glass of bourbon and water instead…. then a second… and then a third…
Actually I started drinking at noon on Friday, right after work. Bourbon with a little water. There was no food to eat that was ready. There was a little brown rice cooked with a Knorr Chicken boullion cube… I lied to myself saying it was harmless and just full of good boney brothy slightly gelatinous taste that would make that brown rice palatable. I miss your phone calls asking me how to make things, cook things, what things mean…. because for some reason you thought I knew some things. We both know now that is not true. I KNOW NOTHING.>
Getting back to the bourbon of which I know just a tiny little bit. If you put enough water in it it won’t hurt your guts because it is not really very good bourbon, actually it’s crap but it was a gift so I drank it and drank it and drank it and my stomach didn’t hurt. Then I called J and she happened to be drinking too in the afternoon, but she had wine. So we both drank and drank and drank and drank. And then all the pent up things that bothered us for the last 30 years all came up and up and up like vomit after clubbing all night and the bed is swirling and swirling and swirling and you know that feeling, after the bed, it’s the whole room spinning and then the ceiling spinning one way, the floor spinning the other way, each wall spinning and also moving up and down and then the ceiling starts coming down on you and then trying to run away you trip over your books and throw up all over everything. Then you promise to never ever ever do it again. And we didn’t and we don’t.
After a while we both calmed down and then after all the pent up energy and the screaming (we did scream, on and on and on but not at each other, at the things we hated about our lives). I love you J because you and I we scream and scream and scream, but not at each other. Like that song with Jeff Buckley and the girl from the Cocteau Twins……. that song about flowers bending towards the sun…. a line that says something like you can be angry with me but please don’t hurt me….
Well enough about that. We both swore a lot. So much that it wore us out and we were both quite ashamed that we swore so much. And we promised never never never to do it again… And…. we…… won’t…. Boy it felt good though. To scream with you over the phone and drink my bourbon and water.
I shoveled a great deal of snow. The path to the house, the sidewalk in front, and a lot of the gravel driveway, and then the path to the back of the house. I forgot now what it is I wanted to say. It’s the snow really. You can be a hundred years old and still love the snow. I thought it would be too much to go out and shovel it. Little old me and a shovel. I thought it might be too cold, too high, too white, too heavy, too wet, too dense. I thought my back would go out, my hands tighten up, fall off, my arms collapse at my sides. I thought my heart might go out. My breath get taken away. I really thought I might have a stroke or maybe just all that bourbon I drank on Friday might come back and kill me.
No, none of that. Because it all happened already. Last April when you died. There I said it. Last April when you died. My darling beloved sister Helene. There I said it. Your name.
What can this snow possibly do to me? What can the rain do, or lightening, or thunder, or tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes. Yes they can instill fear and horror and kill me. But then, really, I think I’m dead already….except except except…. the snow the snow the snow. Sometimes, still, I feel just a tiny tiny bit alive… in the snow.
Maybe I should take a little cup of cream outside and mix it with the snow, sprinkle a little sugar on it, dust it with a little cocoa. Maybe I should bury my face in it. Wash my hands in it. No I will not make those stupid snow angels. I am sorry but I never liked making snow angels, ever since that fool we can’t mention ever again, thought I was not very adventurous because I would not make snow angels with him, that time we were walking in the city and it was a very snowy night and he plunged backwards right in the knee high snow thinking I would be impressed at his youthful cheerful spontaneity. Thinking I would think, how cute, how sweet, how absolutely………..stupid.
It’s still falling outside and I must admit it looks breathtaking, stunning, magical, ethereal. Yes my dear we may see angels, or elves, or little Irish faeries, or little dancing creatures that mean us no harm out there….. especially late at night under the moon, that is still quite big and full. Oh, I saw it the other day and I did look out and I do think I saw you in there looking down at me and those big full luscious lips of yours were mouthing out words to me. But….. I was afraid to listen…. and it was quite cold and I ran back inside.
I’m so sad all the time. I have never felt so sad in my life. Honestly it’s true. I have never felt this sad, this afraid, this lost, this hurt, this damaged, this terrified, this anxious, this traumatized, this catatonic, this emotional, this emotionless, this angry, this furious…. no no no. I am not angry, that was a lie. I am too sad to be angry. What other words are there my sister? What other words are there to tell you the depths of sadness that I feel, the abysmal human misery of emptiness…… is this what T.S. Eliot meant when he talked about that little crab “scuttling” at the bottom of the ocean? Is this what Celine meant in “Journey to the End of the Night? I did read that book and it was horrifying and terrifying and I know it was about war. Real horror. Real terror. Real torture and madness and pain. The desolation of Europe during the Great War. How terribly empty of me to equate this feeling with that no? What would you say to me?
There is no one to talk to about it. The only person I can discuss your death with is you. But you’re dead.
I just ordered a pizza. The cheap awful kind from that awful chain, but really it is not that awful. The children who work there… and they are children, are sweet, eager to please, and I hope to God they do not scratch their faces or worse. They are always so sweet and eager on the phone. So terribly polite. It will be delayed as their parking lot has to be cleared, their internet is down. I had to call and talk to them over the phone. The sweet girl, her sweetness just gushed all over me over the phone and I told them to give the driver a big tip. And she said thank you and I thanked her back and….
I have to go back now and shovel the snow some more, to make room for the pizza delivery car, and the little person who will dutifully carry the pizza up the narrow path that I so carefully shoveled this morning. Oh my God Helene if only you knew how much snow there was/is/will be. My entire front stoop looked like it had big swollen snowmen barricading the front door. I have to go out now and sweep them away.
I am so hungry now. So sad and hungry and God how much I can’t wait to eat that pizza, and maybe watch another murder mystery, or British crime drama, or some other detective like story about mayhem and murder and chaos and serial killers and pathetic, violent, evil people.
I can’t think much now sister. I can’t think much, thinking is so very very painful as you know. I can’t think like you did, beyond thinking, beyond dreaming, beyond talking, talking talking. Beyond beyond beyond. I know that you are the moon now and the stars and the sky and the beloved trees, yes our beloved trees. Oh maybe you are the snow this deep deep lush overwhelming beautiful and powerful and totally frightening whitening wash out wipe out tsunami snow….
I just can’t yet. I am sorry. I don’t have the sweetness and light you had, I don’t have the wisdom and gentleness that you had, I don’t have the pain and suffering gone away now that you had, I don’t have the enlightenment that you had, I don’t have the voice, the mind, the power, the brain the all gone suffering you had, I don’t have the melody, the heart, I don’t have the gentle footsteps, I don’t have the yearning in the heart to know all things that we must know, I don’t have the freedom, I don’t have the light or the darkness or the nerves of steel you had, I just don’t have it my darling one…..
I have to shovel the snow now, and clear it for the pizza man or girl. And later maybe later I’ll go out later later and later. And I’ll throw myself down in the garden and fall very softly and lightly on the white white white maddening snow…..