I just had words with Joe as I ran upstairs and downstairs with a plunger.
“JOE! I did not plan to try to manage hearth, home, high school applications, and hounds without you!”
“I know,” he answered.
“I planned for you to be around so everything that never got done, did not work or was not put away, plus all bad decisions and our failures as parents, I could blame on YOU. It’s not fair!!”
It’s not like Joe was into home management when he was alive. He wasn’t. We lived with a dragon in our kitchen sink that roared and rumbled through our pipes, our bathroom was only completed after his father threatened him with a plumbing wrench, and things like toilets that did not flush, lack of water pressure, or squeaky doors just were not a priority to him. They were, however, my priority and that worked for both of us. These days, I have to hang onto “I don’t want to” and “I have to” at the same time. Emotionally, it’s draining.
Now when things don’t work, we are running late, the counters are sticky, the bed is unmade, the campers are barking, the refrigerator only holds little bottles of coke, I’m missing my favorite dog leash, I can’t find my keys or MY PHONE, I am mad as hell that I have no one to blame it all on.
Sure, I could blame some of it on Cole. In general, it’s bad mothering to play the blame game with your kid, but everyone knows it is perfectly acceptable to blame your spouse. Oh sure, self-help gurus suggest against it, but well, they are dumb-asses. (I am learning to like this expressive word.)
“Joe,” I continued, “I need you to blow up, stomp around, swear loudly, and call ‘those people’ ‘those names’ so I can take the high road. My road was always the high road. I was the nice one. The neat one. The on-time one. I need you to defend me so I can tell you to stop. I need you to be hysterical about my car keys so I don’t have to be. I was sane. You were crazy. I was reasonable. You were passionate. You said soccer. I said plumbing. You were fun. I was focused. You cut. I said get a plate. I was Go, and you were Stop, and together we were balanced.”
“Joe,” I said, “I am now all gollywampus and off-balance.”
“Katybeth, go ahead and blame it all, everything, on me for dying. I left you with the ultimate excuse, so you should thank me,” was Joe’s channeled reply.
“Joe!” I yelled back, “Don’t be a dumb-ass! It’s just not the same and you know it! And by the way, you damn well better be sweating that Loyola High School application.”
I think I heard a muttered reply, “That’s my best girl.”
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