Everyone can have what they would consider an annus horibilus; even Queen Elizabeth when she was surrounded by divorces & royal scandals. I can say that 2005 was my own horrible year. I was faced with the reality that my beloved grandmother had small-cell lung cancer, and was close to dying. That was enough to drive me to tears, but I recognized how much this would impact my extended family, where emotional wedges are the order of the day. The one to start it all off was my own strong-willed mother, whom I have learned to live with & her ironclad opinions.
At first, my mother preferred to deal with her mother’s death in her own way by no way at all. That was unthinkable in her siblings’ opinions. If my mother could not deign to go visit someone who was near dying regardless of past or pending disagreements, forget about her. It would appear as if one wrong word in her family entitles you to an indefinite period of the silent treatment, and there have been times where those have lasted years. I find myself lucky to be on the periphery of such squabbles, but I would have a heart of glass not to say that it did not hurt me to see a family torn apart by trifles. After all, that would mean a few less people in my family I would have contact with. But as long as that was going, I had something of a normal life, as normal as one can be where you are wondering who not to talk to on any given day.
Then last May, my mother got up the gumption to see her mother after claiming to have gotten a sign from her own beloved late grandmother. From then on until the week of my grandmother’s death in the first week of July, my mother & I would travel every Sunday afternoon to visit her. She was weak from chemotherapy & beginning to grow her hair back, but at least I got to see my grandmother, though it pained me to see her get progressively worse with the next week. All the while, I worried myself with when the inevitable would happen, and just how this would affect the ongoing tug-of-war because something like my grandmother’s death was sure to be a doozy.
Well, needless to say, it did impact my family & yes, there are still people to shut out & refrain from talking to. The saga continues. For now, I live by Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns” whenever I need confirmation about how futile life itself can be. Like Desiree, the character who sings it in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, I often wonder if the life I am living & the trials going on in it are all one big joke with a punchline yet to present itself. However, it has given me my mantra for which I have lived by ever since: “Well, maybe next year.”