“Give Me Love” by George Harrison from “Let It Roll: The Songs of George Harrison”
OK, no, it’s not some George Harrison, John Lennon Peace-themed plea for everyone to just “get along”.
What I do want is that peace. I really did think things were hard before Andrea passed away, and in a way, they were. It’s particularly hard to admit, but there were days that her knees hurt so bad she could barely walk, she was depressed and hated the state she was in, and as a result of all that she couldn’t discipline the kids or give them the routine they needed. Add to that the fact that, initially, we didn’t get the help watching the kids we’d moved out here for and her tendency to give in just to get the kids to quiet down and it didn’t lead to much calm in our house.
My evening routine on a lot of nights was to come home after more than 9 hours of work (more like 10 or more, getting the evil eye for leaving after even that) and being told on my entrance to the house that I had to punish one child, take away the computer from another, you name it. I was the equivalent of “wait ’till your father gets home”. Added to this was the fact that I still had dinner to cook and lunches for the next day to be made and the few hours I had with the kids turned into King Solomon choosing which baby to cut in half.
If this sounds like I’m complaining, I don’t mean to. It’s an indication of what things were like – why I truly hope that my wife finds some peace. I hate the fact that I’m happy she’s not here, for no other reason than the fact that she no longer has to face the physical and emotional pain, turmoil and confusion she’d been through for the last several years.
But understand, it kills me to know that I have to think that way. It hurts more than anything knowing she’s gone. Even now, nearly eight months later, I wake up and start my day with the initial warm feeling I got when I woke up to see her laying next to me. But instead I see the covers rustled only slightly on my side of the bed, the place where I’d see her silhouette through the sheets completely flat and lifeless. My brain registers every morning that she’s not there and has to adjust to the fact that I haven’t been in a horrible hallucination, she’s really gone. My evening ends with me turning on the television and setting a timer to run as long as possible and sitting up in the bed until I can’t stay awake anymore, just because it’s so hard to lay down and see that vacant spot next to me.
Sure, the kids come in during the night, awake or nightmares hitting, and I never turn them away. But any parent can tell you how that is not restful sleep, that’s your kid kicking you in the back, sticking their nose on your shoulder and overall just tossing around and keeping you awake. Not that my insomnia needs much help.
It’s in the beginning of those waking hours that I have to accept the routine all over again. I make no aspersions about the fact I’m not a morning person. I used to stay up late because it was the only quiet time I had in the house with my wife. Now it’s just the only time I have to catch up with my events of the day. I realize that even when she wasn’t as mobile as her youth my wife did the laundry, picked up the kids, and helped me to enforce their chores. If I can get them to bed having done the dishes for the night it’s amazing. I spend most nights cleaning up and either listening to the stereo or running something on the DVR while I clean or make lunches or make snacks for lunches and after school . . . or breakfast for tomorrow. The problem is I have to be up in order to get the day going, too. Again, their Mom helped with that.
You just start to realize that the routine is important, but having that other person makes the routine so much easier to implement. It’s not that I dislike the work or hate the way the kids act. But sometimes I feel like I get home and I have little time to do anything but work through the day’s routine. Beyond dinner, I have to nearly yell to get them to do the dishes. I have to cajole them up the stairs to take a shower. I run the laundry after they’ve gotten clean. I watch them roll their eyes when I ask if they’ve brushed their teeth. There’s little room or time for me to chase them around and tickle them. I don’t get to play Scrabble or Apples to Apples. By the time they’re in bed I still have a full evening’s work to contend with.
Then there’s the days off from school. I still have to rely on others to watch them when it happens. Kids need their days off, they need to have their winter and summer vacations, their Thanksgiving and Christmas. But nowadays they have every first Friday of the month as a half-day. There are teacher in-service days. Parent Conference days. California holidays. We’ve added time off in a schedule where they’re already struggling to meet the state hours for teachers. Add to that the fact that we’re working in a system that still acts like we’re a single-income family and Wally and the Beave are walking home along a white picket fence. I know single or working mothers will shout that I’m not saying anything that they haven’t known for years, but in a situation where I HAVE to work, with few hours to spare for things like in-service days and the like I get frustrated. When school meetings happen at 6pm sharp or worse yet at 4 or 5 in the afternoon I can’t even get out of the office, let alone get to the school by then.
It’s a testament to the amazing kids I have that we even get through the day. They lost something just as precious…maybe more so. I had twenty amazing years, eighteen of them in marriage, to this beautiful, funny, charismatic woman who had a reputation for being strong, determined and fun, and was unduly infamous from others for being stubborn, unwavering and unapologetic. All of those, by the way, things I saw as attractive and wonderful, even if they got us in a lot of arguments. They got far less time than that. Far less time they remember, and even fewer pictures with her due to her adamant stance that we not snap her photo.
My kids deserve to have their mother. It’s a fact. I can’t get that for them, and it drives me crazy. I know I can’t do it, I know I have to accept it, but the acceptance doesn’t come each day.
I get love from my kids, I have a life, a career and family who hold me up . . . but peace is not finding me. I watched the life George Harrison, author of that line, and he had such acceptance, such wonderment in the everyday. He saw his death coming and told his wife he should prepare for what’s to come and was happy. He was at peace.
I’m not. I don’t know if I will until I get up in the morning and look at that side of the bed knowing I’m waking alone. Even then, I’m not sure peace will find me. It’s not something I look forward to because it’s then I’ll realize I’ve come to live with the fact that she’s gone. It might ease things for me for now, but I’ll also fight against the acceptance because accepting she’s gone means I’ve lost the love of my life all over again . . . I’ve lost her for good.
Give me love, give me life, give me . . . peace.