The Hole in the Middle of Normal

(Written in early March)

I have on a hooded black sweatshirt, emblazoned with the word ATOMS across the chest; black sweatpants that say “NSSC” (North Springfield Swim Club) down the side. There is a slight bleach stain on the front pocket of the sweatshirt.

Mark’s sweatshirt. Mark’s sweatpants. He was often careless with bleach cleaner when I asked him to scrub down his bathroom.

It’s 9:45pm.

Steve is at the office (tax season); Sarah is at a rehearsal (she’s helping coach a local high school’s winter guard). The dishes are washed; coffeemaker primed for tomorrow morning. I’ve started another load of laundry, opened the mail (threw most of it away). Fed the cat, cleaned his 3 (yes, he is that special) litter boxes. We need to do our tax return at some point, so I finally finished downloading a bunch of bank transactions to Quicken and I need to sort through and categorize them.

Yee-ha. Livin’ the life.

The house has a lovely accumulation of dust and cat hair (Beth O says if you don’t disturb the dust, people generally don’t notice it’s even there); toilets could use cleaning, speaking of bleach. I need to go put in the next load of laundry in….20 minutes.

Groceries. Let me start a list.

We are out of wine, almost out of olive oil. Do we have any digital coupons for Total Wine? I think the lunch meat is turning. We are definitely out of Ben & Jerry’s Pint Slices (Find it. Buy it. Trust me.). Hmm – do we have any ice cream at all?

I am struck with the memory of all of us standing around a 1/2 gallon container, fighting over the chunks. I still sometimes get out 4 spoons, instead of 3.

I’m looking at the calendar: tomorrow I work at the preschool if the weather doesn’t collapse. Wednesday through Saturday – work at our office (more weather – snow! in March! – expected Wednesday. OMG if the power goes out that is bad. VERY bad. All our tax returns are electronically filed!) Fit in some exercise; make sure Steve picks up his mom’s laundry on Thursday when he goes to have dinner with her.

Mark? Do you go visit Grandma? Her Alzheimer’s is worsening. She’s forgotten you died but she knows something is not quite right; often, when it’s just Steve with her, she will suddenly get serious and ask “what’s going on with Mark?” She cannot put her finger on it. And Steve just has to swallow hard and change the subject. He cannot tell her the truth, he cannot bear her pain, even if she would forget it a few minutes later. 

I remember that day a few months ago, when I asked you that question as I drove over to see her, and as I went into her bedroom to put her clean laundry away, there was a dime on her nightstand. She doesn’t have much to do with cash these days; she rarely touches her purse, except to hide her wallet from “those people” she believes might steal from her, so it just made me smile so hard to find that dime.

Oh, I need to remember to pick up my contact lens order tomorrow after work.

Mark and I both have the same wonky eyeballs, requiring the same (different) prescription strengths for each eye. And I’m remembering how it took him FOREVER to learn how to put contacts in. How Sarah & I would break down laughing as he tried to hold his eyelid up with one finger, while inserting the contact with another, but his eye would start twitching and spasmodically shutting as his finger with the contact came closer and closer…he’d miss and miss and miss.

What the heck, State of VA? Our clients have to report what “food and non-food” items they purchased for which they did not pay VA sales tax? Who KEEPS all their internet receipts?

Are we out of toilet paper again?

Oh – deodorant. Add that to the list?

I’ve been using Mark’s Old Spice stick for months…and it’s sort of strangely lasting, not running out. Well: If Jesus can turn a few fish and loaves of bread into supper for thousands – why not this? I am darkly amused by the fact that Mark’s deodorant bears an expiration date of October 2015.

Did I make the contribution to our HSA?

Contributions. I need to write thank you notes to the people who donated to Mark’s memorial and the scholarship fund. A small part of my brain is still not functioning, not accepting reality. It awakens: Wait. Wait. Are we really talking about OUR Mark? Vibrant, funny, silly, witty Mark? How are we even…?!!

Oh, I need to remember to send an email. Are we hosting Easter here? Probably should, because my MIL will be comfortable at our house. And that will force me to clean, at least enough for company. That’s always good.  We’ll have lamb. Sarah makes incredible gravy, and I know she and the Master Gravy Maker (my mom, who taught her) will enjoy creating it.

8c5e1d_116bc30c325d4247a633714e1bf2421fMark actually wrote about Sarah’s gravy in his AP English journal, about how good it is, about how much he loved the food at Thanksgiving in particular. Me too, buddy. This picture is worth sharing again, because it’s hilarious and it says so much about him, about them, about traditions and teasing and love.

Let me check the weather again.

Oh, Sarah is home. Good…good. She’s here.

And Mark isn’t.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

How much space do I give this thought right now?

Let’s have some ice cream. I’ll get out 3 spoons, and wish, with all my heart, it was 4.

2 thoughts on “The Hole in the Middle of Normal

  1. Go ahead and use four spoons…each of you gets an extra bite for Mark…savor it, with Love.
    And I LOVE that Sally got a dime. I will REALLY love the day she says he was there to see her, and how nice it was.

    Liked by 1 person

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