In the Gutter

I want to say last week was an easy one. But that would be lying. And since I still have memories of standing in the corner with my nose pressed against the wall while trying to figure out just how my mom knew it was me who drank the peach schnapps and tried to replace it with water ate the last cookie instead of my brother, I figure I'll just tell the truth.

I talked a good game about keeping up beat and smiling through the tears. Heck, I was determined to remember the joy of my friend's life and not dwell on the fact I will no longer be able to stoop over and give her a big hug or tease her about the hats she liked to wear.

But standing at the cemetery, just a few rows from where I once stood and watched my son lowered into the ground was almost more than I could bear. All I could think about was the memory of what holding your dead child in your arms feels like.

After the service I wandered over to Bug's grave with my husband holding my hand. I felt like a fraud who was wiped out with grief. I needed a moment to tell Bug I love him and how his parents and siblings miss him so. That he is never forgotten.

After bending down to wipe some dust from his name carved in the rock, I looked up from his marker. I was startled to meet the eyes of Boo's family and our friends staring down at me. Sadness and pity and love all emanated from them.

I wasn't ready for the onslaught of people who had trudged over to pay respects to my son. To Boo and I.

I was a wreck. So much for my tough talk. I felt like a fraud, pretending to be well adjusted when really I am just a broken hearted mother who hasn't quite figured out how to chase the pain away. I wanted to scream at them to turn away. To give me a minute to touch his marker and pretend it was my son's lily white skin I was caressing. I wanted to shake them all and tell them to cherish the ones they love so dearly because you never know when your tomorrows will come to an end.

Hell, I wanted to rip off my clothes and run screaming, stark raving mad as far as my feet could take me until all my pain finally disappeared.

I was completely unprepared to share my son, or the memory of him with anyone. Not even my husband.

It was a grim reminder of a day I never wanted to live, never wanted to repeat.

I pushed away and escaped the throng of well meaning family members to go sit in my car. I cried. The gasping, snotty ugly cry. Behind my puffy red eyes, my mind was wishing to have Loreen and Shalebug back for one moment to make sure they knew how much we, I, loved them.

One moment would never be enough though. Not when you love someone and lose them.

So I did what any grieving mother and friend would do.

I cowboyed up. I took a deep breath, and slapped on my sunglasses. Red puffy eyes ringed with smeared mascara is not a cute look on me.

I harnessed the love around me and decided to turn the tables on grief. Enough with the weeping. It was making me feel old. And it is starting to give me wrinkles.

Well, okay. My kids are giving me wrinkles, but I was running out of tissues and I refused to wipe my snotty nose on my sleeve. I am a classy gal , after all.

The question is, what does one do to celebrate the lives of a beloved friend/aunt/mother (and a little boy) who loved life so?

Well, if you're a redneck like me, that means bowling and beer.

What better way to show your love for lost loved ones than slipping on a pair of diseased and dirty bowling shoes that who knows how many others before you stuffed their sweaty fungally feet in?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh ya. I'm the bowling Queen.

Boo and I gathered up the masses, comprised of cousins he hasn't seen since before he sprouted hair around his Mr.Pickle and a few close friends and we headed to the bowling alley.

This was the first time I had met this side of Boo's family, as they all live out of province. Great. I'm grieving, I suck at bowling and I blog about my vagina. You just know I'm bound to make a good impression on his family. Heh.

Thankfully, Boo's family are the polar opposite to who I am. A judgmental, emotionally unstable smart ass. So I had that working in my favour.

However, did I mention Boo's family are all professional bowlers of some sort? No? Probably because I didn't know that myself until after the teams were made up and I watched them bowl strike after strike after strike.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is me, barely able to keep from dropping the ball. Ya. I'm SMOOTH.

Great. Now I'm not only worried about keeping my bowling shoes out of my mouth but my ball (and my mind) out of the gutter. Thankfully, Sleeman's Honey Brown helped calm me down and channel my inner bowling freak.

Well, inner freak.

After the first game where I bowled an astonishing 44 point game and my children threatened to trade me in for the homeless woman we had passed on the street (because you know...surely she could bowl better than me) I loosened up. Nothing like making an arse out of oneself with masses of family members watching you and snickering behind your back. Literally.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

At one point, a wise guy family member brought me the handicapped help thingy. You know. So I could have a chance at hitting ONE pin.

I was on my best behaviour. I smiled. I joked. I hid my bad bowling temper tantrums behind the soda machines. I was determined to make a good impression.

I knew I was doomed when my darlin' husband started handing out my business cards like condoms at the high school prom.

Oh well, love me, love thy blog I thought as I watched my ball slowly curve toward the gutter.

(Have you ever noticed when some people play video games they wave the controllers around wildly, as though they can magically command the game to go in the direction of their arms but ultimately just look like a kid having an epileptic fit? Ya, that was me as the ball headed toward the gutter. I was standing on one foot, madly waving the ball away from the gutter in hopes that my mind could control the curve of ball. Because I'm so good at mind control, you know.)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Note the wild look in my eye. Beer does funny things to me. As does bowling.

Of course, a night out with me wouldn't be any fun unless my husband had an opportunity to yank my foot out of my mouth at least once. We both knew it was going to happen. It was just a question of when.

In my defense, it was the beer. Really. One of his very nice cousins complimented me on my tattoos. We bonded over our ink. Finally, here is a family member I could be myself with, I thought, in my beer addled brain.

(You know when you are talking to someone and it's going really well and you get excited and in your excitement you say something that crosses the line and then the person you are trying to bond with gets a funny look on their face and wonders what the hell you are smoking, then takes a deep swig of their drink while looking for the nearest escape route?

Ya. Well, I am Queen at engineering those moments.)

His charming and tattooed cousin inquired if I had planned to get any more ink. "Absolutely," I responded enthusiastically (and probably slightly slurred), "but only when I know Boo's going to be out of town for a while. He doesn't approve of me desecrating my skin."

"What? Boo doesn't like your tats? Has he no taste? Boo! What the hell is wrong with you," he called out to my husband. Boo walked over and tried to give me the "Please put your beer down and close your mouth before you say something that will embarrass both of us" look.

However, my beer goggles interpreted said look as "Please continue. I'm dying to hear how your bowling shoes taste after I have to yank them out of the mouth you refuse to shut."

Before Boo could explain he didn't particularly like tattoos but he respected my right to plaster them all over my body, I answered for him. (Because good wives do that.)

"Well, he may not like the tatties but he sure loves my nipple rings," I half shouted, half laughed while gesturing to my twins.

It was at that moment the stars aligned themselves and there happened to be a quiet moment in the busy bowling alley where no pins were being struck down. (What's the facking chances of that, eh?) The entire building (hell, the city) heard me tell the world my husband likes to play with my hoops.

While his very conservative Christian family tried to pretend they weren't staring at my chest imagining my sparkly boobs.

I beat a hasty retreat like the coward I am to 'go to the washroom' and left my husband to explain about how his wife shouldn't be allowed out in public to his cousin.

But by the end of the night, I was no longer sad. (Or self conscious thanks to my Sleeman's.) I was able to remember my son and Boo's aunt, my friend, without succumbing to the tidal waves of grief that had threatened to drown me earlier.

I was able to laugh and smile. Which honors them more than any snot encrusted kleenex ever could.

Beer and balls. It does a body good.