I took the boys swimming yesterday. Its an activity I have not done pretty much since before Joseph got sick. It was bittersweet...that child was a fish. He was the only of the four of us who would tan easily. Nick and Alex are redheads and have a redheaded complexion, but Joseph tapped into some mediterranean or gypsy blood and he would turn the most delicious caramel brown. He was afraid of the water when he was small and was overly cautious, but became cured of it in a sudden moment in which my brother Jeff picked him up under the arms and before he knew it, he was plunked straight into the pool and left to figure out for himself that he was fine (he had on water wings and adults were everywhere, in and out of the water). From that moment, the discovery of this new sensual experience was something Joseph could not live without and was one of his greatest laments when his central line kept him not only from swimming, but from even being able to take a bath instead of a shower. He loved the water and it loved him back. I can remember him chasing the ocean from the age of two in Hawaii, dancing on his tiptoes out after the retreating waves until my heart thought it would stop from watching them come back at him, knock him down, roll him sputtering and gasping to shore again, only to watch him get back on his feet and do it all again. I was sure he would drown, but he didn't. He seemed to have found some strange, subtle peace of respect and courage when it came to the sea. It was ironic that he was trepidatious at first of swimming pools but not of large, moving, living bodies of water. I certainly hope there is an eternal sea wherever he plays at now.
So I got into the water a lot and played with Nick and Alex, tried to tap into a sense of being carefree and enjoying the warm weather, the warm water. It was a good time and I got some sun on my shoulders. The boys loved having me there, captive to them by the restrictions in movement that water can provide, chanting "Barnacle!" as they clung to my shoulders and back, wrapping skinny legs around my generous middle and demanding that I then swim with them there. Even Nick did this, though he is easily at an age where this could be seen as "too close" or a slight to his newfound teenaged dignity.
Joe and I shared leftover pork chops for dinner last night while Nick was at a middle school social event at our church. He came home rosy cheeked and happy from being with his peers. He gets irritable with Alex now and then, which is unusual in our home these days. Even Joe has commented on how little the two of them fight now. I suppose it is normal, a sign of his growing distance from his brother in maturity and phase of life. It hurts Alex, but he has enough of his own friends and interests that I suspect he will weather it.
As for me, I have been moody, introspective, quiet and sad inside. I am so grateful for all the good things in my life. Joe and I seem to have turned a corner from the first year upheaval and conflicts as we learned to live with one another and to honor the relationship we have stated we want to have. We have not had an argument in a long time and when tension comes, we are getting better about giving us some space to work it through. I say we. What I mean is ME. I am getting better at not thinking he is going to bolt at the first sign of trouble. At trusting him. As such, I am getting more peaceful with the idea that we can be unhappy with one another and it not mean anything threatening. Its been good. In its own way it gives me room to face other emotions about Joseph being gone and how my life has changed over the past few years. This is certainly not where I expected to be at this point. Its probably better than I could have hoped for in many ways. Just minus one child. That's a big "just".
I feel more at home in my sadness and less like I fight to tamp it down. But this also means that in general, as a person, I am sadder. I live within it. It lives within me. I can feel it now at the slightest hint of thought or focus. It had been where I would drive it so far down that I could even marvel at how good I felt and feel some guilt for not being very sad inside. I was. I just didn't know how to own it, and I continue in many ways to fear it. It definitely sucks energy and light from my person. I have been having to force myself to work out for three weeks. Usually that goes around in a cycle faster than that. I find I am hungry all the time, even when I am full. There is something in me that is not filled that I also must learn to accept.
School is going well. I have three exams each week for the next three weeks, and in the third week I have my last lab practical as well. This is it, crunch time. The skeletal system, the muscular system are the big focus now. SO much freaking information. But I am excited. I can still fail the class at this point given so many exams are still ahead rather than behind me. Hard to believe when there are only three of the ten weeks of class left to go. But it also means four weeks from now I will be breathless and done with it and I have optimism that I will get the A that I want so badly. I think about six of us have As in the class at this point. We have dropped from 28 students to 21. The class is shrinking and more people are talking now about needing to retake it. I am proud to be toward the upper end of things. Proud in the sense of proving things to myself that I feared I could not do.
Today is going to be quiet. I am working for a while, then going home. I may take the boys swimming again. I have housework to do, laundry (the bane of my existance and the one household chore I am certain was part of the punishment to Eve for eating the apple), the floors and bathrooms. I have been invited to brunch and shopping tomorrow and I need to weigh that out along with how long I will need to study for the exam Monday night and make a decision about what I can and cannot afford to do. I would love to go if I can.