Brandon and Oakley are our saviors for this situation. Given Oakley's mom's illness and Brandon's presence in Justin's life since high school they know what we're going through better than most people.
Plus they live in this area and they like to eat.
As we drove to meet them after leaving Toni's house I said to Justin, "Thank God Brandon and Oakley live nearby. They can be the ones who take care of us, for now."
Even though we hadn't done much all day (outside of running around San Diego packing up our lives and moving into my parents' house this morning and then going to Toni's house where Justin is the official suction-machine worker (Toni's coughing isn't all that efficient) and I am the documentarian of experience), we were spent. In a house that is bursting with love--like Victoria and Mark's--when we drive away we feel energized and inspired. In this love-bursting house everyone is holding it together by a thread and when we leave I have a whole new appreciation for the concept of respite care providers. Holy God, watching someone die is exhausting. Everyone is being so sweet and attentive. It's amazing we do not all fall into sugar coma's. I think we probably look comatose when we go out. Are the eyes so puffy from lack of sleep or from containing the flood of tears?
But then there's the Borens and our match for match humor...
Oakley and I sat opposite the boys at Fortune Cookie restaurant, which is such healthy Chinese food that the nutritionist who started the restaurant includes dietary information with each dish's description. We immediately slipped off our sandals and sat Indian style while commenting that we knew we both liked the bench better and our husbands would feel claustrophobic in the corner.
Yesterday, Oakley had accidentally mis-ordered at a Thai restaurant they went to, so they had to add what Brandon wanted to the list and came home with five dishes of leftovers. Last week Brandon had to watch horrific things in a PowerPoint presentation in some FBI training--something that involved finding the people who kill children. While the four of us don't actually want to have our own children (at least right now), it's not that we hate them so much we think they should be hurt--it's actually a lot that we love them so much we want to spare them the tragedy of our gene pool.
Brandon, who almost never drinks alcohol, said, "I've been thinking about getting just buzzed enough to forget about last week's stuff."
"I don't recommend it. It doesn't really work, anyway," I said. We were having water and tea with our meal.
Even Justin piped in, "Yeah, it's OK while you're actually drinking, but afterward it's not any better..."
"...and it's all still true."
"Of course, you could just go buy a bunch of random groceries," he teased. I had to go pick up an emergency supply of one of my medications that I will run out of while I'm away from San Diego. While I waited at the base (30 minutes) I went to buy water and do some quick grocery shopping, since my parents' house doesn't have much food in it (they're gone for a while) and we're having some of Justin's family stay with us. So we have a lot of cheese. String cheese. Two kinds of sharp cheddar (my favorite was on sale!). Three kinds of cream cheese. Two flavors of bagels and also English muffins. Pasta. Pasta sauce. Yogurt. Pudding. Ice cream.
Just in case.
"Nah," I said. "That doesn't really work either. I bought celery because I remembered that Toni used to put cream cheese with onions and chives in them as snacks, but then we got here and I remembered that Toni can't eat at all and Dorothy can't eat greens."
"Oh!" Justin said. "I was wondering, since you can't even eat celery with your braces."
"Yeah, I've given up on that. I'm eating the celery," then I turned to Oakley, remembering our sifting plans. "When I was washing the celery, I realized we have three different kinds of sieves in our cupboard."
She started giggling.
Justin didn't get it, and said, "Well! One had big holes in it and everything fell through, and another was free from Henry's and we have one that's wire mesh..." Since he's the kitchen guy (and LOVES kitchen gadgets) I think he was feeling a little self conscious and defensive. By then Oakley and I were laughing so hard we had to cover our mouths and couldn't take any more bites. She was even teary.
"So we can triple sift her, until we get only the really fine stuff..." I sputtered through my laughing breaths.
"Upon further investigation," she said, "we don't have the right kind of sieve. We have one of those grinder like thingys..."
Somehow Brandon clued in to our cremation joke about scattering ashes and he mimed using one of those grass seed spreaders and said, "You could use a seed spreader and scatter her nice and evenly over the beach."
Back at their house I dozed off in my old chair (now the Oak Nest) while she played a video game and Brandon showed Justin funny video clips on their computer. Then, at my house, I got to nest and do laundry and know where things belong. I haven't stopped moving since we got here.
Dorothy told Justin as we were leaving Toni's house, "This must be hard on you. "
"Yeah... You too."
"I've been washing linens all day."
"It's good to keep busy," he said as they hugged.