(2) A number of months ago my employer was acquired by a larger company that works in the same sphere, the same universe, as our company. We fit a niche that they didn't have covered. They seem to acquire companies that do This Sort Of Thing. All our helicopters are black, all our sedans have antennae. They don't want to change us, but they do want to connect to us. I was working on that connection, my head fully involved in the new network design required.
(3) My wife has been volunteering for a local hospice for a year. She spends a lot of time in nursing homes, visiting some old ladies (one is 106 years old). She noticed that a table of old guys, all vets or former wars, would sit together for dinner, but appeared to have no visitors. I suggest making a connection with a local veterans organization, and setting up some sort of visits with vets. We get volunteers, we get space to train them, we start the process.
(4) On August 27th, my grandmother dies. The official cause is listed as dementia, though she never exhibited any signs of it. The real cause was Parkinsons. The really real cause is, she stopped trying to be alive a few years before, when her sister (she had seven sisters) died in a horrifying car vs. semi accident on her way home from my grandparent's house. My grandmother blamed herself for it, and never recovered fully from the grief and guilt.
(5) The morning she died, point (1) above was the start to the day. Point (4) was about 10am. Point (2) was on hold on the line while I took the call for point (4).
(6) Second ever appointment with new therapist, we talk about grief, southern women, and letting go. Hospice training helps somewhat, but I find I am unable to volunteer for patient visits because I can't detach my grief. I spend moments devastated, waves of grief slowing their frequency.
(7) I become West Nile Virus Case #17 in Travis County. My compromised immune system leaves me open for a bout of food poisoning. I lose 15 pounds in just a few days.
(8) Everyone in my department is taking vacations and other time off; at times I am the only person supporting 200 users. Three major projects start as planned. We get ready to open a new facility, and get the move and IT side of things planned.
(9) At various intervals, various systems in my house at at work fail, including air conditioning, refrigeration, power, plumbing, and server platforms. These failures occur with a frequency that would suggest some divine hand is very, very cross with me.
(10) Find and interview house sitter for trip to EU and UK in October. The girl who can do it, turns out she has days where she's out of the house for 18 hours at a stretch, which is something that will kill our dogs. Now have to schedule dog sitter to fill in those days.
(note) There's a reason that a lot of this list is out of chronological order. From the time my grandmother died, I've not been really very good at keeping track of every thing. This was exacerbated by having West Nile, and also having a stomach illness (which, by the time both were done with me, had left me 25 pounds lighter). I'm also leaving out a number of very important bad things because they are work sensitive.
(11) Fiona Apple gets arrested for having some pot the day we're supposed to see her.
(12) One of my best friends, a brother by choice, emails me, says he needs to talk. We talk. He's a mess; alcohol and a strange city and a strained relationship seem to be taking their toll. I talk to him for about an hour, then head to a concert (Conor Oberst with Daniel Johnston opening).
(12a) After the opening act I get a couple of texts from the friend in (12). He needs a call. I step outside and call him. Over the course of the conversation, he mentions suicide. I can't talk someone down from suicide; I don't have the right tools. I ask him if it would be OK for my friend / co-worker (who happens to be a therapist, but is still in IT because starting a practice is a long process) to call him. He agrees. I call my friend, rousing him from sleep, and dump the whole thing on him. He eagerly agrees to call my suicidal friend.
(12b) I get texts and emails indicating suicidal friend will be OK for the night, then some more in the middle of the night indicating maybe he won't, then an series of emails the next day where I do my best to convince him to get help asap. My grandmother's memorial service is in a few days.
(12c) Therapist talks me back down, and we calmly go about our work. She's a remarkable woman.
(13) I email my mother thanking her for being a great mom. I apologize for not being more present. I choose to bridge the gap between she and I.
(14) Work implodes in a few ways. I get home at night and my head feels empty, a flinty, cold empty. I deplete every single ounce of whatever it is that makes me.
(15) I leave for my grandmother's memorial with non-working wifi, half an MPLS circuit down, and chaos...utter chaos...at work.
(15a) I hate travel. I hate the processes, the rigid control coupled with the capricious nature of schedules and delays. I hate the security processes. I hate parking, I hate luggage, I hate tiny hard airplane seats with eight inches of room between nose and the next seat in front of you. I hate other travelers. I hate airport time, where minutes stretch to hours unless you're late in which case four minutes passes in a blink of sprinting hurried manic desperation. The short of it?
(15b) I hate travel. And I'll be locked into a tiny seat and a metal tube for 13 hours in a few weeks, but for my grandmother's memorial it is only 3 hours.
(16) I arrive in North Carolina, my dad can't find parking, we have to take a bus to get to the car, then a 100 mile drive to the house in pouring rain.
(17) There is something about a 90 year old lady singing hymns (in a choir of about six people of all ages) that says more about the mountains than it does about God. The woman in question, a member of the church who was in attendance when my grandmother passed (helped sing her to heaven), sings with a rough but beautiful old lady baritone that shatters my heart. I stand and listen, looking at the people who'd arrived (more than we anticipated), looking at the woods and fields around the house. More than thirty years ago, I'd stood at this same spot. In the picture, my grandmother and great grandmother and great aunt stand in back of my brother and I. My grandmother has her arm over my chest, holding me close and still for the photo. I am smiling, and nothing in the world troubles me.
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