Swimming against the current

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” is, according to the website sparknotes.com, an important quote from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A book about a guy that will spend his life digging at his past, trying to make what was lost become part of the present.

I know about such things.  I spend all my free time trying to reconcile what was with what is.  It never balances properly.  A terrible hobby and a waste of my energy.

My uncle Manuel passed away a week-ish ago.  He lived his entire life in Argentina and I’d only ever met him once.  I mean it was a long meeting – I spent nearly a month with he and my aunt at their home in Argentina, so it was a pretty significant meeting.  I remember we went out on a yacht with some of their friends on a river.  My memory doesn’t currently produce the name of the river, but I do remember this:

The current was incredible.  The fastest passage of water and time I’ve ever personally witnessed.

The owners of the yacht threw a rope off the stern so we could try to swim upstream.  I jumped in and by the time I surfaced, I nearly passed the rope.  I grabbed it and swam with everything I had in me to reach the boat.  I was 18 at the time and not in terrible shape and still couldn’t do it.  I gained some ground, but not enough to be proud of.

Manuel did the same swim and he made it back to the boat.   From my perspective, he roared out of the river and his arms were able to propel him back like some sort of Phelpsian sea beast.

I never made it back to the boat under swim power alone.  I had to pull myself back along the rope.  It was such a great day and I wish I could remember more of it.

I was sorry to hear Manuel passed away – but he’d lived well into his 90s.  He left behind so many people that loved him.

The days I have spent swimming against the current and the 9 years without Joe and the 2 years without Z I remember so painfully clearly how often I tried to put my boat against the current – my heart borne back ceaselessly into the past.  I want to do the impossible – I want so badly to reach across time and pull them back.  Pull them to my present.  Every molecule in my body (because the body remembers) eternally reaches for the past.

But I can’t, can I?  It’s just not something my body can do.  I didn’t have the power to swim against the current of the river and I don’t have the power to get them back. But still I try.

I lay awake at night thinking of them and I am borne back ceaselessly into the past.

 

Zero stars.  Do not recommend.

This is why I have no money ever

While I was binge listening to short biographies last week, I learned about a peculiar habit of Sarah Winchester (of Winchester gun fame). When she donated money to charity in her own name, it was typically a small amount of money – paltry sums considering her wealth. We’re talking like $10 and $100 donations from someone that had millions. But she was secretly super generous – she donated millions and millions anonymously to charities she loved. Never in her own name.

I don’t donate millions of anything. I just don’t have millions. Except pet hairs around my house. But I do over-tip, and I do give money to corner panhandlers. I buy extra gifts and send things on the side to people I know need it. I had to come clean a couple of weeks ago to Jay and tell him that I have been sending bi-weekly shipments of goods to someone that really needs it for the past several months and there is no end in sight… so, you know, just an FYI about where our money is going. He really didn’t have a say in the matter.

You’d think that one of the side effects of losing a child is spending less money. No more clothes or shoes or books. No tuition payments. No car insurance or phone bills. But really, I’ve found that is not the case for anyone that I know that’s lost a child.

Just like the love that never dies, that stream of money doesn’t quit. Except now instead of fretting about our budgets and how we’re going to keep all the kids in good financial order, we start giving it away.

I mean, I know lots of sad parents that do it for our children, but I don’t know of anyone that makes a “thing” out of it. We just become relentless, secret givers. Dollars to you and books to you and shoes to you and all these things just happen.

And time – we give so much of our time away. Time that we wouldn’t have had before that suddenly becomes so… available. We give it to projects and people and occupation for our hearts.

I’ve turned into a giver and I’m probably not doing it for selfless reasons. I think it’s just a habit I acquired over the 18.83 years I took care of my child. Just like I don’t stop loving her, I don’t stop spending on her either. It’s just redirected.

Redirection seems to be a theme both emotionally and financially.

Sara Winchester was emotionally devastated when she lost her baby and then her husband. She didn’t know what to do with herself and became tragically restless and just meandered through life without real direction.

I’m pretty sure that when she donated anonymously, she didn’t per her name on it because it wasn’t her money. She donated $100 for herself. The millions she donated was the money that belong to someone else.

The same with me, this money and stuff I give away is supposed to go to someone else. So, I make sure it goes to someone else. It’s what I do for them (my child and my husband) quietly and in my heart.

I don’t tell you this to be all “look at me! I’m a generous giver” – I share this because it’s a side-effect-quirk of loss. It’s just something that happens. And I’m here to share the weird.

0 stars. Do not recommend.