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.I had secretly given myself a one-year grace period to grieve.That’s how they did it in the old country.Widows were expected to grieve for one year.And wear black.And accept sympathy and assistance from others.It was a tradition that dated back to the ancient Romans.(What a coincidence—the origins of pie also dated back to that time, when pie crust was used as a sort of storage container, like Tupperware, to preserve and transport meat.They called pies “coffins” back then.Oh, the irony.)Grief didn’t work like that in the new world.Or in my world.We didn’t even wear black to funerals anymore.And mourn for a whole year? We might mourn five years or ten years, but, God forbid we show anything but a happy face in public.The day after the funeral, you pretended everything was normal.You went back to work.If you had a job, that is.Which I didn’t.I hadn’t given up on the Spurs Award.But this grief business was a lot harder than summer camp.I had not just fallen off the horse.I had been bucked, kicked, thrown, flung across the arena.I had been trying to catch that horse ever since.Ten seconds is all it took to get back on when I was eight, but at forty-eight, here I was at ten months and counting.I had been sprinting when I should have paced myself for a marathon.The Europeans were right.A year was needed.At least.Then again, Islam allowed widows only four months and ten days to grieve and Hindus didn’t believe in expressing sorrow or excessive mourning for longer than thirteen days.They felt it hindered the departed spirit from moving forward on its journey.Was I doing it right? Was I grieving the right way? Was my grief over the top or was it appropriate? I had asked Susan in my most recent session, as soon as I got back from L.A.“Grief is an individual thing.Everyone experiences it differently,” she said softly.“Yes, you are doing just fine.” If anyone would know, it was her.So I took her word for it.I had plenty of time to think about all this, especially during my lucid dreaming moments in between fever-ridden naps.From my bed, I spent hours looking through the rain-blurred skylight, mesmerized by the cedar branches swishing back and forth in the wind.I wanted the year to be over.Even though I had two months to go, I was ready to get out of Portland—needed to get out—so I started making plans.Ideas began to germinate from my sick-bed.I would move back to L.A., I decided.But first I would take a month-long road trip to Iowa.Iowa was my home state, a place that might help me feel grounded during the one-year anniversary of Marcus’s death.Even better, the Iowa State Fair coincided with that dreaded day.In my outline for the pie TV series, I had included the Iowa State Fair as a stop on the cross-country route.If anyone had pie, it was Iowa.And if there was any pie contest to rival the National Pie Championships, it was the Iowa State Fair.I would volunteer to be a pie judge.The more I recovered (that is, the less I coughed), the faster I laced up my running shoes, so to speak.My horse was still out there on the loose.CHAPTER18Once I had made up my mind to leave Portland, I had a renewed sense of purpose.All my belongings (and Marcus’s) would go into storage and not straight to L.A., as I didn’t quite know when or where I would land there.Regardless, my mother was already forwarding advertisements for apartment rentals.“There’s a brand-new building across the street from us,” she said.“They have bike storage and they take dogs.”“How much?” I asked.“Eighteen hundred.”“For a studio,” I stated flatly.That it was one room wasn’t the issue, doubling my rent while still unemployed was.“It’s brand-new.And they take dogs.”“Yeah, you already said that, Mom.I’m going to wait until I get back from Iowa.I may get there and want to keep going, maybe drive all the way to New York and see Nan.” It was enough that I had made the decision to leave Portland.I didn’t want to be rushed into any new commitments.L.A.would be there—when I was ready.After storing my belongings and arranging for my friends from Switzerland to drive the RV to L.A., I met with my endocrinologist, who gave me an A on my health report card and a refill on my prescription for the thyroid-replacement hormone I would have to take every day for the rest of my life.The big finale in Portland—and ultimate health inspection—was meeting with Susan.I drove one last time to her office across the river, passing the Legacy Emanuel Hospital emergency entrance on my way, which given its prominent location next to the bridge, was unavoidable.I still pictured taking Marcus to Legacy Emanuel for stitches in his finger.He had broken a glass salad bowl while washing dishes one morning before work.I humored him while we waited for the doctor, telling him funny stories and stroking his arm.Our most tender and loving moments were the ones like these, when we took care of each other.After the hospital, we got lattes and croissants at St.Honore Boulangerie before I dropped him off at work with his splinted finger.Good memory.But the picture turned dark when I envisioned him being rushed to the same hospital in the ambulance on August 19, wheeled into the emergency room on life support, life that would last only another few minutes.Those stitches were the reason the hospital had my name on file as the emergency contact.Bad memory.I parked in my usual guest spot in the covered garage and walked the fifty feet, past the smokers taking a tobacco break, to the building’s main entrance.Susan was waiting, like always, in a chair next to the double security door when I arrived [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]