My friend Steve sent me a bereavement card with the advice to take care of myself. Many people give me unsolicited, and often bizarre, advice. However, I paid particular attention to Steve’s because he had lost one of his children suddenly as a young adult.
I find great pleasure in taking care of others. I’ve been accused on many occasions of being a hovering parent to my successful adult friends. Taking care of myself is not something I ever gave much time or attention to. The major exception to this is when it was an opportunity for me to do something for Constance or a friend.
Constance and I went to the gym six days a week so she could swim. On warm summer days, we went to the beach or the waterpark. When it was cold, we went the library and would leave with stacks of books. I loved giving her pedicures—a process she tolerated but didn’t adore. Much to the befuddlement of the staff at Red Door, I took her with me to the spa. Then, when a fun children’s spa opened in Highland Park, I took her there. I arranged a playdate with her friend at the kid’s spa, which Constance smiled and giggled her way through.
Since Constance’s passing, I have not really indulged myself in any meaningful way. I am pressured by my job, by Constance’s father to move out of the house, and by myself to attempt to thank all of those who have remembered Constance. I work eighteen hours daily in conditions in which I would never ask someone else to function. I spent seven days sleeping on the floor of my former bedroom because it is the only room in the house with carpeting and I was working until I collapsed and then jumping up at 6 am to do it again.
Inherited from my mother and grandmother, I have this robotic work ethic that is only satisfied by the blissful moment when I’m putting a line through something in my journal. There is so much to do, and I want it all done and over with.
A low point was when I returned a box of wine to the 24-hour Walgreens because of the wine’s poor quality. I was up at 3 am doing maintenance on the house and wanted a glass of wine. The only open store was the 24-hour Walgreens and, perhaps with a mind hazed by days of painting, I made the completely mad decision to buy boxed wine at Walgreens. When it tasted like vinegar, I returned it and demanded a refund. You can imagine how perplexed the manager was by my crazed combination of snobbery and cheapness.
With the house nearly complete, I checked into a hotel last night. I took a shower without worrying about upgrading the bathroom hardware. I watched Westworld without packing boxes at the same time. I ate dinner that wasn’t alcohol and sauce packets from the kitchen’s junk drawer. It was glorious. I look forward to doing it all again tonight; in fact, I put it on my to-do list.