I’ve always been fascinated by the juxtapositions I find in life. Right now, my reality is filled with them. They bring me humor, delight and a sense that the universe really does have a greater plan… even if that plan is super shitty at times.
My mailbox is an almost constant state of juxtaposition. While I was never a big mail checker in the past, now the daily walk with the dogs to my mailbox is filled with questions like, “Wonder if that bill has shown up yet? How many collections notices will I get today?” This used to be a constant source of stress for me, but I’ve developed a solid game plan to deal with the bills and time has deadened my reaction to things.
Besides bills, something else keeps showing up in my mailbox – little gifts of love from the amazing people in my life. Sometimes it’s a set of note cards, or a book or a hand written card. These little happies square off against the bills in my mailbox during the day. The gifts of love stare at the bills and tell them that they may exist, but bills won’t keep me down!
Sometimes the mere juxtaposition between bills versus love has a juxtaposition inside of it. Like these amazing finger puppets a friend sent.
It’s a squirrel and a raccoon! We all know about my raccoon brain, but I have a squirrel side too. Hide all the nuts! Prepare for the worst! Scurry in all the different directions… like this post is doing, scurrying in different directions! These little puppets made me smile, and are now talking about various life philosophies with each other on top of my china cabinet.
Then there’s the fact that I’m living through the most heart breaking, lonely period of my entire life and I can’t stop playing a RPG dating simulation game that’s based on Jane Austen novels. While I sit alone and sad in my apartment, I flip through the extensive courtship dramas of Charlotte Rivers or Rosalind Morley and decide whether I’m going to respond in a witty or amiable way to my suitor’s comments.
Aside from my virtual courting agenda, my Dad visited this weekend. I wanted to get his help going through some boxes Tim saved of old paperwork to determine if anything was important to my current situation or not. Previously we had done this and found boxes of credit card statements and receipts from his independent contracting, which is what I expected to find yesterday evening when I handed my dad a filing box. Some contents were related to business, but mostly it was filled with personal cards and mail from roughly 15-18 years ago. I picked up a large stack, and started going through it.
There were a few cards from
a dumb bitch his first wife. In one she said she was sorry for being an annoying (true) and bothersome (true) girlfriend, but couldn’t wait to get married to him. She thanked him for putting up with her. Their marriage lasted about three months and I never heard Tim say a single positive thing about this person. I threw everything from her in the trash, but do wonder if she even knows if he’s passed away or not. Would she feel something?
Majority of the mail were letters from Tim’s mom and dad when he experienced a particularly rough time. I skimmed several of these, and felt the same heavy feeling I often get when grief reminds me that it’s still a part of my life – like an elephant slowly sitting on my chest. One line of a letter wrote, “… when I heard you were alive I knew that I could get through anything as long as you were okay.” After I read that, the elephant sat a bit deeper. This is exactly how I felt after Tim regained consciousness the first time. As long as he was alive, we were going to be okay.
But he’s not, and we aren’t.
Amidst all these letters and cards I found a piece of notebook paper in his handwriting. It said “Fri-Group” at the top and although I don’t know the prompt he was writing on, the contents of his therapy journal are so striking to me. The last paragraph reads:
I wish someone had not told me to care for other people before I cared for myself. Now I realize that others are better served if I have cared for myself first and work out my problems first.
Even through his darkest days and his using, Tim always cared for me the best way he knew how. He was like this for his friends as well, and he gave his job much more of his mental sanity and time than he could afford to. He wanted to hide his problems from everyone partially so he could do whatever he wanted but also so he could keep people from worrying about him. It was important to him to look put together and stable at all times, even if his mind was a tumultuous storm.
Almost twenty years ago, he wrote that lesson above to himself but he never learned it. That piece of paper I found was not a juxtaposition, it was a parallel. I wish Tim had cared for and loved himself as much as all the people who wrote him those cards & letters all those years ago. As much as all the people who mail me little gifts of love now, or text me to let me know that they were thinking of Tim today and missing him.
I wish that a year from now, we would be juxtaposing a happy and healthy husband to the depression and addiction that consumed him instead of comparing my life with him to now after him.