love. from a friend

NAMING LOVE TOO EARLY

is a beautiful but harrowing human difficulty. Most of our heartbreak comes from attempting to name who or what we love and the way we love, too early in the vulnerable journey of discovery.

We can never know in the beginning, in giving ourselves to a person, to a work, to a marriage or to a cause, exactly what kind of love we are involved with. When we demand a certain specific kind of reciprocation before the revelation has flowered completely we find ourselves disappointed and bereaved and in that grief may miss the particular form of love that is actually possible but that did not meet our initial and too specific expectations. Feeling bereft we take our identity as one who is disappointed in love, our almost proud disappointment preventing us from seeing the lack of reciprocation from the person or the situation as simply a difficult invitation into a deeper and as yet unrecognizable form of affection.

The act of loving itself, always becomes a path of humble apprenticeship, not only in following its difficult way and discovering its different forms of humility and beautiful abasement but strangely, through its fierce introduction to all its many astonishing and different forms, where we are asked continually and against our will, to give in so many different ways, without knowing exactly, or in what way, when or how, the mysterious gift will be returned.

We name mostly in order to control but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling. In many ways love has already named us and called us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult art of all, to love without naming at all.

leaning in and leaning on

“lean into this…it’s safe”

“lean on me, let me be the guy that shows up for you”

oh holy mother of god, have there ever been any scarier words spoken?

there is nothing I want more than to have the support of someone I love; a partner in the true sense of the word

but when it’s offered up, all I can think is that things are so much easier to tackle on my own because then I’m not counting on anyone else and I won’t be let down, disappointed

crushed

I have a history of thinking I’ve found that person who is willing to walk through the fire with me, a person who will be there with a handkerchief in hand and a big ole shoulder where I can lay my head

through thick and thin

in sickness and in health

my ability to discern between all-talk and the real deal has been super faulty

so when it is offered again, the truth, plain and simple, is that I don’t trust it

I don’t believe it to be real

I don’t believe in the other person

when my world imploded two years ago, I learned more than I ever wish I had to about fair-weather friends; about people who bail when the shit hits

I was devastated and disillusioned

a friend said, you don’t trust anyone…and I don’t fucking blame you

I also learned about what it means to have true blue dyed-in-the-wool friends

some friends, near and far, kept showing up – either on my doorstep or on the phone or even just on facebook – letting me know that yes, there are people who are the real deal

but that’s a whole different bag than a man with whom I am in a relationship

at this age, with this life experience, a woman like me gets to the point of saying, you never know if you can trust a man, but you know you can always count on your friends

so how does a woman like me ever trust a man (partner) again?

how does a woman like me lean into a relationship and allow that man to support her?

and, how does a woman like me protect herself without hurting the person (man) who is trying to be the good guy, the guy who shows up, the guy who actually wants to be the shoulder, and who isn’t the guy who bails when the going gets rough?

because right now, the going is really fucking rough

 

life just really isn’t fair

the other day I found out that my uterus is falling out and I have to have it removed

the next morning, my father died

then, I broke out in a horrible rash that I finally got looked at today because I haven’t been able to sleep due to outrageous itching in my lady-parts

you know how it is almost orgasm-inducing to finally give in and scratch a really bad itch that you know you shouldn’t mess with but when you cave, your eyes roll back in your head and you can barely breathe because it feels so good…try that on your clitoris

it’s practically indecent

so the itch is due to an infection due to the cream that the ob-gyn used when she examined my faulty bits down there

but, while today’s doctor was inspecting the hinterlands she glanced at my thigh and said, honey, you’ve got shingles

seriously

no. seriously

I lost it; all snot and tears and woe is me

she said, I’d hug you but I’m pregnant and you’ve got shingles so actually, I’m going to get as far away from you as possible

mom said, what can we do to help?

I said, shoot me

my brother said, a little too quickly, okay

rat fucker

 

How we grieve

Five hours of tennis. Straight. One match.

Glued to the television. Hanging on every swing, every ping, every motion of the fuzzy yellow ball.

We are a family that loves tennis. We all played. I was horrible.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the thrill of hitting the sweet spot in the strings on the racket.

It doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a good match when I see one.

I have so many memories of my dad in his whites. I can still smell the mixed fragrances of sweat and tennis balls and an after-game Tom Collins.

Mom owned a tennis shop. Mom also played on a country club team. It was The B Team.

The B Team was my family. Mom used to say, “Why would I want to play on the A Team? They’re much too competitive.” The B Team was all about having fun.

The husbands and children of The B Team were as much a part of the team as the players themselves.

Mom and a couple of her teammates owned a tennis shop – The Court Jester. It was my first job and one of my dad’s first tax write-offs.

When we were in London for a business trip of my father’s, he got sick. While he was lying in bed in the hotel, Mom and I planned a day at the Tate. When we got on the underground and looked at the map to determine which stop was ours, Mom realized that Wimbledon was at the end of the line.

She debated for maybe a millisecond then announced that instead of a museum, we were going to watch tennis and we ended up watching Martina Navratilova on Centre Court.

One of the greatest moments in Strazza family history.

So it made perfect sense to the three of us here today that we would spend all day watching a ball fly back and forth across a net, periodically stating the obvious, “Dad would love this match.”

I don’t know how other families do this, but the Strazzas did tennis today and it was absolutely perfect.

this is so surreal

It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem like he’s gone.

The house isn’t any quieter – my mom and brother and I make plenty of noise – my poor dad couldn’t get a word in edge-wise when all of us were here.

His chair is still in the den – my brother sat in it tonight. My mom sat in her regular place. I sat on the love seat between them and we watched Wimbledon.

I went grocery shopping today; there were a few items that I didn’t need to purchase, but basically, the grocery list was the same as always.

Just not as much ice cream.

We also went to the Funeral Home today – that was bizarre. Everyone speaks so softly and wears a benign (comforting?) smile on their face. They were all men – big burley men – men in grey suits. The couches in the waiting area were covered in vinyl and they served coffee with powdered creamer.

Sitting in the office of the Funeral Director talking logistics seemed to have nothing to do with my father. When you talk about “the deceased” it’s easy to forget that that person is connected to you.

Marshall, the man in the grey suit with whom we met, asked if Montclair, New Jersey was one or two words.

One. But I told him that New Jersey was two words.

I went back to the funeral home later in the day to spend time with my father. Mom and my brother decided to not go – they had each had their goodbyes.

I went because I thought that seeing him would help reality sink in.

But it wasn’t real. He wasn’t real.

They took him out of the fridge and put him on a medical cart and covered him with a sheet and placed the cart at the front of the sanctuary – where the alter would be in a church. The lights were dimmed.

For a more peaceful atmosphere? To make him look better? Who knows.

Whatever the intention, it didn’t work.

He just looked fake and he was as cold as a popsicle and his lips were glued shut so he didn’t gape but they didn’t do a very good job and he just looked unfamiliar.

I cried for a minute. Then I lay down on a pew and stared at him. After ten minutes, I left. Dry-eyed. There didn’t seem to be anything else to accomplish in that room.

So I went to TJ Maxx and wandered the aisles. Then I went to the Publix to buy hamburger meat.

My family is funny. Funny funny, not odd funny. My dad was really funny. We tease each other. We can get a giggle out of most anything. So we laughed a lot today and gave each other a rash of shit.

Then we went back to tennis.

When my sweet boyfriend called to check in, I almost felt guilty for not crying.

We’ve talked as much about the godawful heat in Florida, in July, as we have talked about Dad.

We have brief moments when someone starts to crack. Eyes well up. A laugh almost turns to a sob. But no one has fallen apart.

Yet.

Is this all normal?

It’s normal for the Strazzas.

As normal as can be with our patriarch gone.

 

 

It finally happened

the thing that we’ve been waiting for, anticipating, dreading…

my father has died

yesterday

totally expected, and yet, totally unexpected

meaning, we’ve known it was coming, but yesterday started out as a good day, an unextraordinary day, and then, in a moment, it became extraordinary

I am on my way

for what feels like the millionth time, I am in the dallas airport waiting to get on a plane

because this has happened so many times, I continue to imagine that everything there will be like it always is when I arrive

but it won’t be

and that won’t really hit me until I see his empty recliner

(the one from the medical supply store that launches a person onto their feet so they don’t have to get out of the chair of their own accord)

I have absolutely no idea how to do this