I hadn't thought the upcoming 2 year mark was affecting me. Maybe it isn't. I mean, being weepy, exhausted, having flashbacks, all those things are not new, and certainly don't belong to any one day over another. But the last two days I have been so tender, so down.
Do you have those days when you just go looking for a break, a wee little reprieve, and find your "reprieves" cause more damage than they're worth? I decide to read awhile - fiction, even - and find the main character is an "accident" widow. I turn on the tv instead, and hear Steven Colbert making fun of drowning. Awesome. Nature shows: all water. Lots of water. I head to the garden, and find it has been almost completely destroyed by woodchucks. Go out for a walk and see parents screaming at small children, couples arguing, pop culture and general ugliness. I feel relentlessly ground down.
Took the long walk into town yesterday to sit in our coffee shop, just get out and about for awhile. I should never read the paper. I know this. I really, really know this. And yet, I do it, when I'm out and about like this. I do entirely skip the front page and all that gloom and violence. I caught the headlines of the editorial page though, and those drew me in. Some news about the portland diocese I find deeply disturbing. If matt had known in the Before, I am quite sure he would have mentioned it. So much incongruity in the church, in politics, in everything it seems. The church broke his heart so many times with all their - wrongness. He knew what it could be, what he wanted to help it be, but in the end, he decided he could not walk that path. Anyway. So I read this, sitting in our cafe, at the same table where we were sitting this time TWO years ago, with exactly two weeks left in his life, in my life, though we had no idea. Sitting there, feeling so indescribably deeply sad - for matt and what his church continued to be and to do, for me, feeling shown just continual evidence of ugliness, for me, for all that has happened and all that is and how he is still not here anymore. How is it I have lived 23 months and two weeks without seeing that face, without holding those hands. Fuck.
Anyway. I left. Walked and wandered, hoping I would find something redeemable. Seeing us everywhere. I went to buy bread. I came back, and stopped in a teahouse I haven't seen before. I walked in and immediately started to cry. I don't know. I guess I can't write about it in the way I felt it. Years ago, I had wanted to start a tea house here. These people have made something very close to the image I held. The food on the menu suits my being. It is calm and peaceful (at least it was while I was there). There are all sorts of lovely things on the tea menu about beauty, like beauty being possible in an impossible life. The colors are right for me, soothing and correct. The architecture, the photographs, even the stories in the menu. It reminded me of my travels so many years ago, which made me calm and sad all at the same time. Thinking how matt would respond to this place, how I would have been teary even if he were here, and he would have teased me about it, but also understood. I don't know. It did something for me, something restorative and beautiful. I walked in overwhelmed with ugly, and came out with a wee bit of beauty.
Walking home, I thought about how it doesn't help. I mean, it doesn't fix things. In the Before (to adopt a phrase, thank you A), in the Before, I was often overwhelmed by ugly. Like this - my scales were usually heavily weighted to beauty and goodness. Occasionally, the weight would creep up on the ugly side, or a massive boulder of yuck would suddenly slam down. But when ugly slammed down on my scales, I had matt to lend his weight to the other side, I had my own faith and resilience to get those scales righted again, to lean back to the side of beauty. For this last nearly but not quite two years, the weight on the side of ugly has been, and still is, heavier than I can lift. There is no effective counter-balance. Getting those scales to tip back and truly favor beautiful - well, I'm not sure that can happen again. But what I got yesterday, in that one little tea shop, over a thoughtful and beautiful tea, was a few little weights added to the beauty side. Not enough of course. But some. For a few moments, tiny little grams of goodness were added to my world.
So now there is a sign on my fridge for me - "do not add weight to the ugly side." I think, for now, I can use this. I don't know that it works to really go out looking for beautiful weights to add to my scales. When they come, they do not tip the balance or right the world. But there is beautiful, and I will take it. And try not to add more ugly to that other side. And also, try not to cry all over the nice owner of the beautiful teahouse. Bring tissues next time.