I’d like to apologize to anyone who was at that Going Away Party.
I was supremely awkward.
This was because there were some people who knew about my Mom, and were offering their condolences, and others who did not know, so therefore with them, I felt I had to act ‘normal’. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust my other friends with the information, it was just that I had no idea how to possibly bring it up.
I mean, there’s no bigger way to kill the mood of a party than to reveal that your Mom had just passed away the week before.
If it had been any other get-together, any other circumstance, I would have cancelled. But I knew that a lot of these people, it would be my only chance to say goodbye, and I would regret it later if I didn’t.
So I made my rounds at the bar, trying to mirror my emotions and reactions to the people I was talking with. I’d have to turn on the exuberance with those who didn’t know: “Yes, I am SO excited about the move!!”and then sink back to reality for those who did: “Thank you. Yes, it’s been really difficult.” I felt guilty that I wasn’t being honest with everyone but at that time, I just couldn’t. But looking back, I realize now that both reactions were my truth. I was excited. And it also was really difficult.
Regardless of the fact that I felt disoriented and uncomfortable at times, I am very, very glad I went through with the party. I am grateful for the shared memories I have with those friends who came.
As the evening wound down, I took a moment to slip off to a back table by myself. I ate some bread and cheese that I’d ordered earlier but in my rush to connect with everyone, had forgotten about.
And then Bea appeared before me.
“What can I do?” she asked as she sat down across from me. She took my hands in hers. “I know you said you there’s nothing, or you don’t know, but there must be something. Please. What can I do for you? I want to help.”
I put my head down on her hands, closing my eyes. I took a deep breath and then sat up. I looked at her and said, “You know, what I really need is company. I don’t want to go out – I can’t do that, can’t make small talk. But… what I need is company at home. Someone to just sit with me while I pack, not to help me pack, just to sit with me. So I can get motivated and not feel so alone.”
“Done,” she said.
It was settled she would come that Saturday. I told Marlie, who had also been begging me to tell her how she could help, and since she and Bea were close friends, she immediately agreed.
They showed up at 3pm. I put out fancy cheeses and crackers, as well as a sampling of the pears and chocolates from the lovely Harry & David gift basket Collette had sent me. I had champagne chilling in the fridge and poured us each a glass as they arrived.
They stayed with me for nine hours.
Bea had an incredible 80’s Rock playlist she played the whole evening, and we chatted and gossiped and caught up on everything new. I also revealed to them how I was struggling, how tired I was, how I really wanted to get out of there. And how I hated that I wanted to get out of there because that wasn’t how I’d ever wanted to feel about leaving New York. They listened and nodded and said, “Tracey. You are going through so much. It’s okay that you’re overwhelmed. It’s okay.”
“Thank you,” I breathed. Then I went back to gossiping.
And during all this, I went through my things. I packed up clothes, un-tangled jewelry and separated it into various plastic bags, I nestled glassware into bubble wrap. I pulled paintings off the walls and wrapped them in old bed-sheets. Transferred boxes of files from their cabinets into boxes so My Boyfriend and I could go through them in California.
After they left, I realized it was the first time since my Mother’s death that I had laughed – hard and real laughter. The first time I had gotten truly enthusiastic about the move again. I thought then that I may actually survive this. And as a result, in the days after their visit, although I still slept all day – each night, I’d get a little bit more done.
And so, when My Boyfriend arrived a week later, I was ready to go.