The tiny, octogenarian usher carried a matching tiny flashlight, which she kept pointing at my self-illuminating iPhone screen to see the seat numbers on our etickets. This didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in her seat-finding skills, so when she kept walking us closer and closer to the stage to show us our seats, I was pretty sure she was making a mistake. My friend, Sarah, and I kept exchanging glances as if to say, “Seriously? Where is she taking us?”
This is particularly funny because I bought the tickets, and yet I was as incredulous as Sarah was. Later she said, “You should have seen the look on your face! Priceless!” I retorted, something like, “It’s great when you are able to pull off a surprise for yourself.”
This is the sort of thing that happens when you’ve been in a fog of grief for months. You do things, and you don’t remember.
Often this is stress inducing or frustrating, but apparently it can also make for a nice surprise! Like when you discover that at some point you must have believed that the Universe owed you amazing seats to see your favorite singer/guitar Goddess and her guitar God husband. A fact that you promptly forgot. I knew I had the tickets, but fifth row? I had no idea.
After my dad died I decided I needed to schedule some things to look forward to in the months that followed. The first was a trip to a city to which I’d never been – Savannah. I booked a nice Bed & Breakfast and coerced two of my favorite women, Monica and Lynette, into coming with me. Aside from one embarrassing evening in a (blessedly) dimly lit Thai restaurant, in which I sobbed into my Pad Thai, I was able to not be the grieving daughter that weekend. New city, new me. I put the grief aside for a few days, and we had a great time.
When the weekend was over and it was time to go home, I hit a wall. When I had to return to my regular life, I had the (ridiculously obvious) revelation that I couldn’t hit the reset button by leaving town for a few days. Dad was still dead, and my family was still in a cloud of grief and bewilderment.
Life would be heavy for a while.
Next up was a trip my mother and I had planned, to see some family friends the next month. This was already in place when I had my rough re-entry from Savannah. I was really worried that my mother was going to have the same experience – fun time away, awful time coming back. I wondered if it was even worth it to go. When I picked her up to go to the airport, I could tell that she was feeling shaky.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s hard to explain,” she said.
“I bet leaving the house feels like leaving dad behind.”
“Yes,” she said.
For her, it was the leaving that was hard, not the returning. Yet another example of how we all grieve differently.
Anyway, I digress…back to last night.
Remember when I wrote about grief and how it is an actual, medical reality that those of us going through it literally can’t remember things, concentrate, organize thoughts well?
So, last night was a wonderful example of how that can be a little gift!
Step one: Buy awesome seats.
Step two: Promptly forget.
Step three: Absolutely adore your sad, grieving, great-seat deserving self for such a kick-ass surprise.
And then this happened – I ran into some old friends who happened to be sitting right in front of us – two couples I adore, whose children (and dogs) I used to take care of way back when. In between sets they asked me if I wanted to get a drink. I said sure. Next thing I know I’m on a private elevator up to the “Executive Lounge.”
Free champagne. Cookies. A clean bathroom with no line….mints, you guys.
The whole night was amazing. As you can probably tell I’m still on a high from it!!
Tonight, I have two tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld perform stand up. Again, I bought the tickets months ago, still in a fog of grief and (if last night is any indication), feeling fully entitled to awesomeness. I’m taking Billy.
I wonder how the seats will be…
It’ll be a surprise to both of us.