Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Everything Changes

Maverick/Melody has not spoken to us since March, angry that we cancelled her medical insurance. The insurance, beginning this year, would have covered 100% of gender reassignment surgery, so she had scheduled it immediately and was headed for California in July to get the body she's been longing for.

The insurance was a benefit of Lancelot's job--a job he disliked, but did to support our family. After much deliberation, we decided that we had to draw the line at our resources being used for a surgery we feel is destructive.

But Maverick doesn't see it that way.

So now we're down a kid, since Maverick no longer considers himself a member of our family and has boycotted all family celebrations, shut us off from his Facebook and sent Lancelot a "you suck" email too hateful for me to want to read.

Though I'm talking blithely, I'm not blithe.

The year has been a series of losses/changes/transitions/however you want to label them. A week or two after canceling Melody's insurance, Lancelot was laid off, rendering all of us insurance-less, which made the act of canceling it moot. Dad fell and broke his hip in February and we had to put him in a nursing home. It is, if one can believe the irony, directly underneath the Aurora Bridge. A few weeks ago, he and I sat on the patio there, looking up at the bridge and discussing jumpers.

Now he doesn't discuss much of anything. Three words into a sentence, he gets lost, his hands fluttering over the bedspread looking for his missing thought. I go see him every Tuesday and I sing to him. I have no idea whether he likes this or not, but I try to choose songs he is familiar with. I sing in competition with the blaring television in the next bed, with its musical ads for antidepressants ("may cause suicide") and Depends.

What these bald facts mean to me is evasive. I get lost on the way to meaning. But they must mean something.
"Good" changes have happened, too. I sold my book; it comes out next year. I'm applying for a residency in France. (I don't know if a mere application constitutes "change," but it's causing me to dream again.)

And maybe none of these changes are good or bad. They are all transitions. Sorrow is just as worthy an emotion as joy, though I don't want to lose sight of joy. I'm learning I can't skip over loss, though. I either feel it or I get sick or crabby or depressed. Better to live through the loss.

Coming out of the nursing home tonight, I felt all slowed down by sorrow. Dad may be dying. Or he may remain this lost for the next decade--there's no way to say. On a whim, I texted Melody, who has answered a couple of my texts in the last couple of weeks--generally only able to maintain civility for two or three exchanges. I texted, "Sad. Granddaddy going downhill. Can't finish a sentence. Gets lost. Everything changes."

Was this manipulative? I've been accused of messaging him as "bait," just so I can hear from him, when I need to let her stew in her own juices. But I don't care. I miss my child. I am angry enough at her to scream, and I miss him.

She texted back, "I'm sorry to hear that."

I imagine her texting this coolly and disinterestedly, "Granddaddy" being someone from that "previous" family--the one who didn't love her enough to give her what she wanted. Clearly, I am unable to maintain the kind of imperiousness one needs in order to remain unruffled by one's children. I was never much of an authoritarian parent. Maybe that's why Melody hates me for drawing the line.

But still. "I'm sorry to hear that" was better than more icy silence. And if being grateful for it makes me pathetic, I'll have to live with that.

"Thanks," I texted back, not daring to say more.

Once upon a time, I was wise. But everything changes.