The Tape

Hi All!

So re: my last post, I am doing much better. In case you do not follow me on social media (namely Facebook and Instagram), I recently lost someone in my life who was a supervisor at one of my jobs. And it was very sudden and I was not aware of just how sick she was, so it all came at a bit of a shock. Even though I only knew her for two and a half years, she left enough of an impact on my life that her loss deeply effected me. She was so kind and sweet and funny. I always enjoyed talking and laughing with her and so I will deeply miss her. What’s so strange is that about two weeks prior to her passing, I had requested her as a Facebook friend and she accepted. And I remember feeling trepidatious about reaching out (because of the whole employee/supervisor thing), but we got along so well and the night I sent the request (which was the night of the Golden Globes) I remember thinking, “Ah, fuck it”. And I think she accepted the next day.

It bums me out when people die, mainly because I think the simple reality of like, “Oh my gosh, I can never have this person anymore. I can never see them or talk to them or be with them ever again”, that’s a very traumatic, jarring feeling. The reality is so simple and plain but getting over it (or even through it) is difficult and exhausting, especially because I did not know how ill she was. It did take time, but as each day passes I feel as though I’m slowly coming to terms with it.

The thing about getting older is that death triggers other deaths you’ve experienced and it cause a chain reaction domino effect. And that can be a frightening thing to try to contain. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told this story on this blog, but a few years ago it was Easter Sunday. My family and I had just returned home from Easter dinner with our extended family and everyone was settling in, getting changed, and winding down. Days prior, I was cleaning out my basement and I found a strong box with a few of my great-grandmother’s affects (who had passed years prior), among them a unmarked, older looking cassette tape. I though that was curious and I had brought it up to my room to listen to it later.

So here I am, after Easter dinner. I go into my room to get changed and I stumble across the tape again and I figure, well why don’t I listen to it right now? I had recently got a record player which had an attached tape player in it, so I popped it in and began to listen. It was a woman speaking. No music. It was a woman and a man having a conversation. It only took me a few minutes to realize that the woman was my grandmother (my great-grandmother’s daughter-in-law, who had almost been gone 10 years ago at that point) and my dad’s father (my great-grandmother’s son, who I refuse to call “Grandpa” or anything because he was deadbeat alcoholic who I never met, whose voice I never heard).

I later learned this tape of conversations existed because my grandmother, Roselyn was in the middle of divorcing my dad’s father, Jack, and her lawyer told her the proceedings might go easier if she could get him to say something implicating to use against him on tape. Nothing was ever really captured from what I understand. But in these intimate conversations, Jack was being really sweet with Roselyn; He was trying to win her back and get her to come back home. And my grandmother would politely laugh and tell him to stop and knock it off and she’d ask about the cat and the kids (my dad and his siblings, who were all grown). See, my grandmother had gone to California to get away from Jack, as he was incredibly abusive. And one day she decided she had enough and left. And the tape was just filled with these beautiful, intimate conversations I had never been privy to listen to, aside from the fact I hadn’t even been born yet when they were had.

But as I listened and I listened, I began to feeling incredibly overwhelmed and unspeakably sad. Suddenly I felt as though I was holding back a dam of tears. See, Roselyn had passed away in 2004 (or 2005). And I remember being 14 and not quite sure how to take the news. I didn’t cry. It didn’t really effect me. I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to but it didn’t. Which was weird because I loved my grandmother very much and I felt as though she did play a hand in raising me. And she was always so sweet and kind and generous and gracious and a consistent presence in my life. I chose not to go to the funeral (my mom asked) and never thought much about it. When she was alive, we would go visit her every weekend. And as a kid I got sick of it; I got tired of going every Saturday or Sunday and wasting my time there. There were so many other things I wanted to do; As a kid, it was the last place I wanted to be. So when Roselyn died, it just felt like we got a break from visiting her every weekend; and I enjoyed that freedom.

But I had to turn the tape off. I was still holding back this dam of tears that was about to burst forth. I went back downstairs, sat down, and tried to pull myself together. And then suddenly, I couldn’t hold it together anymore. And I just broke down. I sure scared the hell out of my parents, who had no idea what was going on. Remember, we had just come back from Easter dinner where I was emotionally together for the entire day. I think we all actually had a nice time. It took awhile for me to get the words out, to tell my parents the story about the tape and how it affected me. And it was like all those years of not grieving just caught up with me. I think I cried for over an hour. I never realized how much I missed her. How much I wished I could talk to her again, now that I was older. I still have those wishes. The family members who passed away when I was young, I wish I had the chance to be with them as an young adult because I think I would appreciate them more and enjoy their company more. Especially my Poppy (Nonna’s husband, my grandfather), my Zia Angelina (Nonna’s sister), and of course my grandma, Roselyn.

Everyday I wish they were here with me. Not just in my heart, but really here with me. And I could talk to them in a room and we’d sit around a table sipping espresso. But I know that won’t happen – though maybe in dream.

I know death is a part of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to those you love. It’s still hard.

It’s still hard, but it can get easier as time goes on.

I believe in that for sure.