Yesterday’s meeting was predictable. Not only had nothing changed, the boss actually wanted me to remind him how we left our last meeting. I’m not surprised, I just wanted to be. His big news that he couldn’t wait to tell me was that he needed another 6 or 8 months. Then he’d know. Right. I reiterated that it probably took me out of the loop. I would continue to be a good employee, and that was that. He expressed a bit of surprise & relief, “So you ARE coming back?” Yeah, I was pretty sure I had made that clear. Wandering around in Spain for the rest of my life won’t pay the bills.
Yeah, I suppose I am consumed at times, most of the time in fact. OK, all the time. Sharon says I’m obsessive about everything I do. Well, she IS always right. Seriously. So although I do seem to be consumed all the time, it’s not always with grief. At least I don’t think I am.
This Camino thing will be really, really physically demanding. I mean, I AM 53 years old, and it will be pretty rough. And I’ve never even hiked before, unless you count boy scouts or walking through the woods to the cliff dive place a couple of years ago with Emily in Hawaii. So I bought all the right (I hope) gear, and started hiking with my 28# backpack a couple of times a week. Ok it’s like everyday, but just for a short walk before anyone wakes up. Well maybe more than a short walk, cause I walk from like 5:15 to about 7:00, but really that only like 6 or 7 miles every day. Does that sound obsessive? A little, I suppose, but I gotta get prepared for 18-25 miles each day, and I’m a long way from being in the shape I need to be in. And frankly, the “short walks” are kicking my butt! I am so sore, and not just pulled muscles and strained ligaments and sprained tendons, but my joints themselves are showing me a frustrating amount of intolerance to this kind of activity. I remember some arthritic changes in both knees and both hips in the XRays we took about 10 years ago when Cullen and I took Tae Kwan Do and I had a bit of a run in with my aging shell.
I do notice that the training doesn’t look so compulsive now that Sharon is walking with me when she can doesn’t have to be at work early and if I instead do an afternoon trek. Kind of kicking her younger body too!
Really though, I am. I can never just buy something. I am driven to research for hours. Heaven forbid not getting the best product for the best price. Buying socks takes hours; a phone weeks; a car takes months. Seriously.
Maybe a little ADD too, but that’s a different blog post.
She is right though, I am compulsive, and consumed. Since I discovered we were mortal, me specifically, I’ve been consumed with exploring faith, religion, God, death, and finally, living. Not really sure when that happened, but probably when the girl down the street from me named Kim Inman died from Leukemia when we were like 12. That’s the first death I really remember. She was someone I knew, a part of MY world, a 12 year old’s reality. She was there, my playmate, then almost instantly, was gone. Of course then there was Nana, Papu, Grandma, Grandpa, and Dante. And then Daddy. Lots of things there I wish I had done and said, and not done and not said. And lessons learned – good ones, bot what to do, and unfortunately lots of things not to do. But that’s another post also.
Also unfortunately some of these lessons came much too late about what not to do. How to stop generational history from repeating itself… You know, we become our parents. But again that’s the other post, but don’t look for it yet, cause its all still in my head.
But yeah, I do obsess about God and the other stuff I mentioned, as well as my perceptions about others’ relationship with God, and their perceptions toward mine; BTW, what the heck? Why all the vitriol about Catholics? We don’t worship statues, and think Mary is a God, and where does all this stuff even come from? Haha, but seriously – we’re not Christians? We were the ONLY Christians for over a thousand years before Henry got upset that the rules couldn’t be changed so he could get a divorce, and Martin Luther (and probably lots of others) were upset about indulgence abuse and threw out 17 books from the bible that he didn’t like. They’re inspired for 1500 years, then you decide you knew more than the early Church Fathers? Guess that’s a different post too. Don’t look for that one either.
Did I mention I’m a little ADD?
So I am consumed with Cullen’s loss, and no, it’s never gonna be the same again, and the “new normal” grief counselors talk about is bullshit. No, I’m not always consumed with grief and sadness, but yes, frankly the whole thing sucks, and I do think of Cullen every minute of every day. But lots of it is good stuff. Most of it in fact.
After returning home from FSU with Cullen on April 27, 2012, he stayed with us that weekend before leaving to study in China. Cullen went to Mass with us at HNJ, then expressed a desire to stay late for a Eucharistic Adoration service that Fr. Tony was having, with music by Sarah Kroger. Cullen remarked that she sang “like an angel.” Afterward we all returned home.
Cullen always wanted me to stay up late and watch a movie, and I typically declined because I was up very early the next day for work. Agreeing this time to do so, we proceeded to dig through DVDs, looking, of course, for Napoleon Dynamite. I remarked that it was too bad we had just returned a movie the rest of us had watched earlier in the week, because when we were watching it I remembered thinking that I knew he would enjoy it. Anyway, Noah thought that although it hadn’t been available as an instant download that perhaps it would be now that we had watched it – I was skeptical, but upon checking – there it was – “The Way.”
Emilio Estevez directs his father Martin Sheen in this story of a man’s “final journey” with his son, discovering what he had meant when he said, “You don’t choose a life Dad, you live one.” This is the story of walking “The Way of Saint James,” with a few glimpses of the pilgrim’s experience as they walk the 500 mile “Camino de Santiago.” The journey climaxes as the group enters the Cathedral of Santiago, each surrendering the burdens that they have attempted to carry alone.
After the movie ended, the two of us sat together in silence, until the music and credits ended. I started to engage, “Well … ” Cullen interrupted, “Of course I’ll walk it with you, but I gotta finish my master’s degree, so we’ll do it in two years. We agreed and hugged goodnight.
I’ve read many reviews of the movie, and heard lots of people comment on it. No one understands the depth of the message and foreboding for us. Watching that movie was the last thing I was to do with my son. He left me the next day, and I would only see his beautiful face once more; in a box rolling into the Chinese crematory.
I leave on my 500 mile, 30 day Camino de Santiago on April 16, 2013.