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12:07 p.m. - 2011-07-17
I mourn not for thee but for me.

More broken feet. Not MIL's this time, mine. Stress eczema. My arches look like hamburger. Mick feels terrible about it, but we both had to laugh when I told him about the time around six years ago when it got so bad I had to wear my snow boots in the house. My feet were a raw bloody mess and the boots were the only footwear soft and cushiony enough for me to walk in without killing me with pain, even sock feet hurt too much. I cracked him up with the mental picture of me clumping around in my ratty housecoat and snow boots.

Don't think it'll get that bad this time. At least I hope not. The temp is supposed to be in the 90s all week. I'd hate to have to do my errands wearing short-shorts and winter boots.

Night before last I was reading Stephen King's 'Just After Sunset' and got jammed up. I'd not read this collection of short stories before. Stopped buying King's new releases some years ago, his post-accident stuff was just too harsh. But Mick, browsing at B&N realized the book jacket was unfamiliar to him and that I probably didn't own it, brought me home a copy a few weeks ago as a surprise gift. I was glad, hadn't known there was a new short story collection and I luuuurve Stephen King's short stories. Figured the tales within might be more like his older work, the man is a genius with short stories. They're why I fell in love with him in the first place. With this collection I got as far as The Things They Left Behind and had to stop. The story is about September 11th. Ten years and it's still too tender a subject for me.

Surprised me. Don't cry anymore when I go into the city. I'm used to the altered skyline. I've never gone down and looked at Ground Zero up close, saw it from the observation deck of the Empire State Building and that was plenty close enough for me, but for the most part I'm okay. Thought I was anyhow. Then when it dawned on me the story was about that terrible day I felt sucker-punched. Astonished by my gut-slam reaction, I snapped the book shut and have been puzzling out just why this story bothered me so much. Thought maybe I was upset that somebody thought this was an okay topic to use as entertainment. A little, yeah. But Stephen King has no sacred cows. He's always written about horrible unfair things. Bad, bad, bad stuff happens to good people all the time in Stephen King's universe. He doesn't flinch from even using his own bad things. How many stories has he written about his mother's death in various guises? A dozen at least. 9-11 is just another bad thing to be mined for stories, I guess.

I try not to go on about it too much. There's plenty who lost people much closer to them than I did. Not only that, I was a nice safe 50 miles away watching what went down on CNN. The whole time I was on the phone with Jan in Berlin too. He'd called to tell me to turn the TV on in the first place. "Mum! Go downstairs and turn on the TV! I think you're at war!" Bizarrely comforting to have Jan with me, it seemed a terrible yet wonderful thing to be watching this together while we were an ocean apart.

Doesn't get me any closer to an answer about why that story bit me so hard though. Too hard to even finish reading it.

Been looking at that last sentence for 20 minutes and I'm starting to see something. I don't usually grieve. I'm pretty chilly that way. The dead are dead. I certainly don't mourn any of the loses that most do. My mother, for instance. I'm not sorry she's dead in the least. Which makes sense if you know my backstory. But others too. My grandparents. Various other relatives. Ones I actually liked. Because death never seemed to hurt me I've always assumed I've got a hole in my circuits somewhere. A dead place in my psyche. Null space where most people have a big tangle of emotions. I know I'm a softie in a lot of ways so I was less concerned about my compassion and empathy than I might have been if I was cold about everything. My seeming inability to be laid out by grief felt more like a glitch in my make-up, like flat feet or two different color eyes. Just an oddity in an otherwise normal person.

So this continued pain and anger about September 11 shocks me. I was more of a horrified onlooker than active participant. I didn't sit with the families at the funerals, I was a back row mourner. But maybe the distance is why I let it in. I don't dare be grieved by anyone closer. Don't want to. Too many hard questions. Opens up too many "What ifs?" There's no murky shadow around 9-11, my hurt is clean. I can be angry at the unfairness without being all sideways with regret for myself and how my life might have been different if only…

Yeah, that feels about right. That 'null' space isn't empty, it's just fiercely protected. The mechanics of self-preservation are a wonder indeed.

Still don't think I'll finish reading that story though. ~LA

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