I hadn’t been thinking much about my dad’s death. To me, it seemed like an intense but strangely distant experience; a loud, full-color, orchestral occurrence that played and replayed in mind like a high-def movie, but one that I remained steadfastly detached from. Over the years, I have developed a strong stoic streak. I think it’s in me genetically--I come from a long line of poor Swedish farmers. I had work to do. Lots of it. I was doing fine. So fine that I felt guilty about it. So fine that I figured I must have pre-mourned him over the last few years when I knew his heart wasn’t doing well. I got lots of work done over these last seven weeks. I went to the range every week and signed up with my trainer and started working out all of the time and keeping very, very busy, and I was perfectly fine. Then one of my sisters posted pictures of my Dad on Facebook in honor of his birthday, and I realized he wasn’t going to have any more birthdays. For the first time since his death, I understood that he was dead. And I completely lost my sh*t at the very inconvenient time of 6:00 a.m. on the morning that I was due to be at a mandatory work meeting. I underwent three straight hours of savage, sobbing, ugly, exhausting, helpless grief. Then I had to pull myself together and get through the intense all-day work meeting with red, swollen eyes and bouts of crying in the bathroom. Then I came home and immediately resumed the process of falling apart. It went on until that evening, when I fell into bed exhausted. I remain shocked at the intensity of it.
Once, Mr. Typist and I went fishing at Fish Lake really early in the morning. I was much skinnier back then, and it was really cold and wet, and as we headed back to the car, I started shaking violently and uncontrollably. It was weird and terrifying and kind of fascinating. I lost complete control over my body as my hypothalamus swooped in and took command to generate life-saving heat. This was kind of like that. I didn’t get to decide anything. I didn’t get to control it or push it away or drown it in work or novelty or hysterical replacement activity. It seized total control of my emotional territory, and I could only thrash around helpless in its jaws. For now, it has retreated. But I am waiting for the black beast to return again and give me another good shaking. Maybe, if it does come in waves as they say, this next one won’t crash me against the shore quite as hard. My apologies for all of the mixed metaphors--it’s been a long week.
I told you I’d update you on the BSE (Big, Stressy Event), so here goes: It was glorious. Everything looked exactly as I had envisioned: Shimmery, creamy, gold, white, black and very elegant. Every minute of obsession over those napkin rings was well-founded—they pulled the room together beautifully and picked up the soft gold of the centerpiece vases perfectly. The guitarist did a beautiful job, and the singer dutifully sang the song I had asked him to, but then he asked if he could do one more song, and I said sure, and he busted out with his true, luminous self on “Stand By Me,” and every once clapped and cheered and danced in their chairs. Then I speeched my speech and brought up my other speakers and read all the names and cheerled and fake-extroverted like a pro, then came home and spent a sleepless night trying to detox from the massive amounts of stimulus and adrenaline coursing through my veins. Aside from how everything looked, the most important thing is that everyone really had a great time and felt appreciated. It’s done for another year. Around this time next year, you’ll be treated to an earful about my obsession with the exact shade of silver of the seafood forks.
Finally--I promised not go on and on about my range experiences, but I just have to share my excitement. Last week, when I said that I had that moment of focus and silence and complete attention? Today, my entire day at the range was like that. I watched a video by an ex-Navy Seal sniper on focus over and over again this week, and it really sank in. Almost every one of my shots was on target consistently, and even more exciting—Mr. Typist challenged me to do a speed drill, where you move from target to target at high speed without stopping between shots, and I was shocked that I did very well at that, too. The practice of shooting continues to give me confidence and courage and strength. And I have a feeling I’m gonna need it.