It's That Night Again
The curse of teenagery hit. Some years I would crumble under the pressure of shame caused by not being "with" someone. Oh how it ached to be stuck at a New Year's Eve party and trying, me with my vacant lips at midnight, to look nonchalant. I couldn't even soak my embarrassment in booze. I'd never even had a drink of alcohol when I went to college. A true sheltered farm girl.
My twenties and thirties were party years. I still hated New Year's Eve parties. For me, they were even more contrived than the forced romance of Valentine's Day. I will never understand people yelling "Wooooooo!" at midnight. It's the turning of a calendar page. I get it. I get the symbolism. But I do not get the "wooooo!"
I went to Times Square once, against my will, to watch the festivities and to freeze in a drunken mass of people. It was 11 degrees. We were all herded into sectioned off pieces of street from 7:00 p.m. till the blasted ball dropped (along with the blasted balls of many men who had succumbed to the cold) at midnight. Some drunk chicks beside us pulled their pants down and peed in the street, while guys around them yelled (of course) "Wooooooooooooo!" I stood there miserable, in my special down hunting cap purchased earlier in the day, thinking once again "This is not the life for me. This is the wrong husband. I wish he had that noisemaker up his ass."
Better New Year's Eves came along in my forties. Much better. Cozy ones with great food and anticipation not of the coming year, but of the wee hours when I could sigh with relief that THIS is more like it. This man, this place, this feeling, this sleepy contentedness.
This year, at 49, my New Year's Eve is spent again, with an ache. Not the ache of the rejected teenager or the ache of a frozen face from a long 11 degree evening on the streets of New York. Tonight I ache for my mother, who is suffering mightily. Today, the last day of what has been a brutal year for our family, is the day she had to agree to put my dad into a nursing home. His care is too much for her to handle now. It is too much for any person, young or old, to handle. She is trying to face the stinging reality of giving Dad up to a place that is not home for him. Dad will be OK there, since he is not aware of where "home" is at this point. But she will have to navigate in a new place. A house that has become strange without him. For her, the nursing home 2 miles away must feel as though it's on the moon. He will not be with her at night, to cuddle.
She says she cannot complain, because she's had him all these years (68) and lots of people don't get that much time together. And she is not a complainer anyway. But the ache is enveloping her like a dusky coat too heavy to be worn, impossible to stand up in. I am 1800 miles from her, but her pain is my pain. All I wish for on this last night of 2008 is to be able to ease it for her.
I long for the nights of Dad tapping his foot to Guy Lombardo, and Mom laughing and saying "I'm not staying up for that crap!"