A View Into the Eye of the Hurricane of Grief (or Arguin’ (with myself) in the Rain)

Nina took pictures during our last “brush” with a hurricane, Bill back in 2009. It was also a non event, but it produced some pretty spectacular sunsets, and at least one gorgeous rainbow over Vineyard Sound.

I spent our “hurricane” day off – the kids had no school and the federal courts were closed despite the fact we didn’t see raindrop number one until early evening – getting the kids together with friends. It was kind of a circus, but having multiple waves of kiddos for the boys to play with spared us entirely from the normal day off ennui. But by four thirty I realized I had spent almost the entire day homebound and I was getting a little stir crazy, so I told the boys to behave themselves for 45 minutes and I went out for a jog.

This has become pretty routine since Nina died. I’ve left the boys alone for short stretches out of necessity — just to make everyday life possible. Whether it’s exercise or a stray errand, it’s hard to get stuff done if it always has to get done with two kids in tow.

The boys are 11 and 9 now, so it’s not like I’m leaving a toddler at home with the oven going and the iron steaming in the middle of the kitchen (though I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done that if Nina had died when we had toddlers). They can mostly fend for their immediate needs, and Freddy has a cell phone – a necessity of solo parenting in a house with no landline, I realized shortly after Nina died – so I know that, worst comes to worst, he can contact me and I can at least … come running.

But they were only 10 and 7 when Nina died, and I have never totally felt at ease leaving them alone. I don’t know if it’s just the idea of kids alone, or the added appearance of precocity from Nina having died, but nearly every time I go out on a jog I have the same internal debate with myself: am I making a mistake leaving them home alone? The weird part about this debate is that it’s not ostensibly with myself, but with my dead wife. I mean to say, it is actually with myself, because Nina’s dead and I’m alone when I’m having it. But in my head it’s a conversation with her.

Nina was more anxious about things than me in general, so her part of the convo always leans more in the direction of caution – that maybe it’s not such a great idea to run off and leave the kids. She points out that I am diabetic, meaning that even if the kids are being looked after by a responsible adult, me going for a jog isn’t necessarily unfraught. And that the kids, while certainly capable, have never really had to deal with the unforeseen or unexpected.

Today the conversation revolved around a very particular potential trouble:  leaving the kids alone during a hurricane. Nina reminded me that Benny was anxious about the storm already, and unlikely to be highly functional in the event something went wrong. Freddy, I responded, was much more clear thinking in a crisis and also the one with the cell phone. I also pointed out that, while the hurricane was a very real danger to parts south and east of us, we had yet to see anything more than swift, gray clouds and little gusts of wind. Nina averred that storms are nothing if not unpredictable, and how did I know what the next 45 minutes would bring?

I think my jogging belt / bottle combo is both stylish and highly visible. 

I was indignant (TBC this was indignance with myself, in my head, directed at my dead wife, while struggling through a four-mile jog and wearing my hot pink jogging belt with water bottle holster) and pointed out that, if we were at the Cape, where we’d waited out hurricanes in the past — one when Benny was only a few weeks old — Nina would be scoffing at this so-called storm, her Yankee bones pondering full-throated whether a quick storm surge kayak might be had before supper. Zing!

Nina had an anxious streak, but she also brought her babies with her to Cape Cod when it was in the path of a hurricane (albeit one that ultimately stayed at sea and only hit Canada — which doesn’t really count). 

Well, just as I felt sure I’d won the argument, the rains from Florence finally hit. The wind picked up a bit (mind you it was probably still only blowing 10-15) and I was struck with the realization I was having an imaginary argument about the sensibility of leaving the kids alone during a hurricane with the woman who’s death made the leaving of them alone necessary. Which is both vicious circular reasoning, totally understandable under the circumstance, and also maybe a bit crazy. About the same time my psyche admitted defeat, my body gave out, as it is wont to do at that stage of my jogs, leaving the rainiest part of my jog also the slowest. Sort of appropriate for this storm, my age, and my current station in life.

One thought on “A View Into the Eye of the Hurricane of Grief (or Arguin’ (with myself) in the Rain)

  1. Pingback: The Abyss – Afterword

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