The food had run out. The casseroles that our different households packed for lunch and compared at school, the delicious and thoughtfully and lovingly prepared meals that I could not possibly have created, much less imagined I wanted, and sometimes could barely put on a plate and heat fully. The meals your friends bring to you when your father dies and they want to do something to help but they can't keep the old man alive and they aren't prepared to clean your toilets.
Not that I resented the unclean toilets. I had no resentment, only gratitude.
The only time I felt resentment was when my daughter wanted to watch TV on the couch, and I wanted to watch a different show, and her show was boring to me, and it was my father who had died. She resented me because I had been on the couch ALL DAY ALREADY and I wasn't the only person who lived in the house.
And she was grieving too.
That was more than a year ago. It seems so distant, until I write these words, and then I'm sad again. A lot of the time, though, I'm not sad. And when I'm not sad, it's hard to get in the mood to write this blog.
Getting in the mood to blog isn't necessarily required. The posts I write that balance delicately between my personal outlook on the bitter humor around my father's hospice and death and a desire to be sensitive to others have come out of careful writing, not just tears. Simple grief is not in and of itself art, and turning grief into art for a purpose seems both sane and manipulative.
Yet "to manipulate" can mean many things, not all of them tainted: to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance; to adapt of change to suit one's purpose or advantage. Amanda and I, having spent the better part of two years living with dying, were depleted in the days, weeks, and months after Dad actually, finally, irreversibly died. We weren't the only sad ones, but we were the ones carpooling each others' kids to their shared school, calling each other to ask for information or a shoulder to cry on or other support. We were the ones making each other laugh at things nobody else would find as funny, or so we thought, and there are only so many people you can make death jokes in front of.
You don't always need to have a need to ask for help. Taking advantage (again, in the positive sense of the phrase) of Dad's death to communicate really clearly about my needs taught me that sometimes you can just say, "Help." Sometimes you can call up a friend and ask if they will cook for you.
If you ever want to cook for me, I am not very sad anymore, at least not all the time, but I would enjoy it very much.