The Scream - Edvard Munch

The Scream – Edvard Munch


No really (hahaha), No really (hahaha), No really (hahaha)

Tap-tap-tap,  Tap-tap-tap

Woohoo,  Woohoo, Woohoo,  Oe-Oe, Oe-Oe

I am being attacked by sound and no matter how much I tell myself that  “I am the one giving the sounds meaning” or to “breathe and just ignore them” I can’t help but feeling like the man in the painting.

I toil away at my computer in a cubicle within a pod of six cubicles on the sixth floor of a mid-rise in the middle of Los Angeles.  My station is at the corner of the southwest side of the building facing the window so that except for when the afternoon sun streaks directly towards me forcing me to close the shade, I enjoy an unobstructed view of the city.  I begin the day by practicing gratitude.  I am thankful to have a job, my view, my health, my family and for the the love I got from my little boy Gus.  For a few hours every morning I am in a place of peace and euphoria and then the rest of the office shows up.

Across the way, separated by a few black file cabinets sits a nice enough man who drinks coffee from a metal cup that he clinks on his desk all day.  In front of him sits a young girl who tap dances away the day; her feet tap, tap, tapping on the plastic mat under her chair.  AND, next to me is a woman who either has friends with extremely scandalous lives or is easily surprised as far as I can tell by how often she says “no really and then laughs”.  I accept that noise is part of the cubicle world and I am not troubled by most conversations or regular noises just these – they grate on me like nails on a chalkboard.

Having survived work, I drive furiously to the gym where I work out my grief trying to leave it and these petty annoyances behind in a pool of sweat.  That is unless “woohoo” girl shows up like she did last night. Then I am subjected to “woohoo” or “oe-oe” every few minutes for the hour spin class. I spent that hour yesterday fighting the urge to just get up and go, telling myself that “she” should not get to disrupt my workout. The question is, why am I so annoyed by these particular noises? Why did woohoo girl sit next to me in a room full of empty spin bikes? Why am I suddenly so bothered by noise?

The house was empty and dark when I got back from the gym last night and with my husband out of town and the older boys getting home much later I knew I had nothing but time to be alone in the silence.  I thought about what it would have been like if Gus was still around.  The two of us would have been together and while I made dinner, he might have been playing x-box in the living room.  From across the house I would have heard him “woohooing” at his kills on Call of Duty. Then, when I called him for dinner, his scooter would have “clinked” along as he rode it from the living room to the kitchen. While we ate, his feet would have been “tapping” under table as they so often had and we would have gotten into “no really” wars as we told each other about our day. I realized suddenly, why of all the noises in the world these in particular got to me – they all reminded me of Gus.  It is then that I understood what A Course in Miracles meant when it said that “you are never upset for the reason you think” , it was not the noise or the people I was upset at but the loss.

As a sit in my cubicle this morning, the noises have subsided or at least I am not as focused on them today now that I know what they mean. At the very least I don’t have the urge to put my hands on my face and yell “silence!”  At least not yet….

Twenty-four months

Gus - Where are you?

Gus – Where are you?

I’ve been contemplating the difference between months and years this past week, deciding that there is a certain infancy implied in “months” that is lost in “years”.  Consider a two-year old toddler, saying they are 24 months old still says “baby” even if that “baby” walks and talks.  So as the second anniversary of Gus’ passing neared, I decided it would not be two years since I last held him but a mere twenty-four months, since I last rubbed his feet and kissed his face. I would be slowing time this way, artificially shortening the distance between when he was last here and today.

As the day got closer, my husband worked later and later as much to keep up with work as to avoid coming home. He felt bad about this, apologizing constantly for leaving me “alone” but I was not hurt, I had my own distractions; like purging the house, reading, writing and exercising, anything to keep from having too much time to cry. Early yesterday morning, shortly after when Gus would have taken his last breath those many months before, a curious thing happened.  My husband came to bed late, about 1:30 am. He was tired but could not sleep, the weight of the next day starting to settle on him. I was asleep but restless, my dreams retracing the last twenty-four hours of his life trying to find the point where I might have saved him from his fate.  We sat up from our various places to the sound of footsteps, two feet were clearly making their way from the boy’s rooms towards ours, stopping just at the entrance to our room.  My sub-conscious mind called out “Gus!”, recalling the many years Gus had done that, walk from his room to our room stopping at the door to call to us before jumping into our bed. My mouth however, operated by my conscious mind that knew it could not be Gus, called out “Frankie?”, as unlikely as it was that we could not see a 6’1, 22 year-old man standing at our open door.  My husband scrambled for the light, hoping we wouldn’t find a stranger crawling into our room, instead finding our dog “Girl” staring at us with a look of sympathy and understanding.  Never mind that Girl knows better than to come upstairs and on the rare occasion that she does, her steps do not sound like feet.  They sound like paws with little nails click clacking on the wood floor, slip-sliding on the rug in the hallway.  We let her lay down next to our bed, knowing that Gus had brought her to comfort us.

We still cried at the mass we dedicated to him the following morning and as we placed flowers, a bag of his favorite hot cheetos and a snicker’s bar at his niche but the phantom steps of the night before stayed with us, assuring us that as the months turn to years he will always be with us.

Girl - Gus never got a chance to name her so she is just "Girl"

Girl – Gus never got a chance to name her so she is just “Girl” – by the way Girl stayed downstairs the following night.  

Gus did have a chance to meet her via phone.

But he did have a chance to meet her via phone.