Monday, August 30, 2010

Books and ribbons

We went to Books-A-Million the other day, like we need more than the umpteen thousand books we already have, but sometimes a little retail therapy is nice. I usually have no interest in the self-help section, but this time I wandered over to it. After lots of scowling at the offerings, I found a book on grieving that looked fairly helpful and intelligent.

Then I put it back. I've found or been given 2 books and a website already. Is there really any reason to get another book? I think that in some way I pictured grief as kind of an assembly-line process, where 4 workers could build a car 4 times as fast as, say, one doing it alone, so 4 sources would make me feel better much faster! Nah, probably not.

I bought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, instead. I'm impressed! It's good.

Last year I discovered the mental health benefit of making chains out of shiny, colorful Christmas ribbon. It started as a way to use up tangled messes of old ribbon, but became so much fun that when I ran out, I began scouring gift-wrap displays to buy more. By January, the good colors were gone from local stores, and I began searching online for metallic ribbon dealers. That's where I finally happened on Mystic Alley. I bookmarked the site, but the year was going in other directions and I didn't get around to picking my colors and ordering.

Last week, I realized it would be a happy activity to get back into, so I ordered a box of ribbon. A very big box. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Mystic Alley is great to deal with, by the way, fast, accurate, and service-oriented.

That's a standard 12-inch LP album, which I put in the box only for size-reference. It was not obvious how big the box and the contents are, so I used the album to show the size of the ribbon reels. Only then did a cat come helpfully along to pose with the box and make it unnecessary. She couldn't do that before I went to the trouble to hunt through our albums and find it. Certainly not.

It takes as long as it takes, but we're all doing OK.


Catherine said...

I am so with you. I wanted a predictable grief process. No way, unfortunately. I read one book and let it go at that. As you say, it takes what it takes.

I'm still grieving at times -- especially now that Fall is coming and there are only two months until the one-year anniversary of my mother's death. At this time last year I was frantic with anticipation and worry, knowing the end was coming.

I hate this. Still.

southernyankee said...

Don't know what might be wrong with umpteen thousand books, but it does bring to mind these two brothers from New York way back when. . .Colliers or something like that?

One thing about cats. . .like cops, they're never there when you need one.

Yes, slowly we heal the ache that throbs deeply.

ronnie said...

That's a lot of ribbon! I can't wait to see what you do with it.

I have been temporarily blessed that I haven't dealt with the grief of losing a parent - yet. I hope I am as centered and self-aware and healthy about it as you are when I do. And I will.

Southernyankee - there's no problem with umpteen thousand books - if they can fit on shelves. It's when you're making paths through piles of them to get around your house that you start thinking about that news article you read about some poor soul in New York who had a pile collapse on him...

Mike said...

Thing about grief is that there is no real key. You get through the major, predictable pattern and you're okay but there's something missing, some part that just doesn't quite fit, like a wobbly table leg or a tooth you can't bite down on right. And then one day, totally out of nowhere, some silly, trivial, seemingly-unrelated something rears up and smacks you across the head. A smell, a snatch of a song, a half-forgotten memory, a glimpse of a stranger doing something familiar. And it jolts you with a memory shock that makes everything fall into place.

You can't make it happen. There's no pattern. There's no way to bring it on. It only happens when you've let down your guard and stopped looking for it.

Ronnie said...

I don't need to say a thing. My kid just nailed it.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Catherine - I think this will take awhile, but i'm at last starting to really know what you've been going through.

SY - Of course, the day cats become cooperative, life as we know it will end. As for books, books aren't the problem. Shelves are the problem!

ronnie - I guess i'm doing this Healthy! 8~) During the process, its hard to tell.

Mike - Yeah, you nailed it.

Ronnie - yep, he nailed it. AND, a very Happy Birthday to you, a couple days late!

Sherwood Harrington said...

Mrs. Peterson, that's quite some verbal carpenter you've got there for a son.

Having lost both parents within 90 days of one another seven years before, by the time we lost Doug I was pretty thoroughly disabused of the notion that my grief process would ever be a healing one. I'm reminded of an old joke:

Q. How many Microsoft engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. None. They simply re-define darkness to be the industry standard.

Death appears to be even more powerful than Microsoft, so I've just got to find ways of dealing with new standards. Looks like you're doing pretty well, Ruth.

(We're still in Ireland, btw -- but out of the Midlands and in a hotel w/ internet. Home soon.)