It’s been raining in central Ohio for most of the almost-a-day I’ve been here. I’m the first of my siblings to arrive, but soon all four of us, plus others, will be in the house with Dad. This weekend is the stone-setting at my mom’s grave in Athens. We unveil the headstone and signal an end to the year of mourning.
Six months ago, give or take, I wrote Half of the first year, trying to take stock of what it’s like, losing your mother to a hideous, protracted cancer. In some ways I’m getting better (I’m writing fiction again!), and in some ways I’m even more of a mess than I realized.
Pretty soon my family is going to start arriving, and I’ll have no quiet until I’m back in Chicago on Monday afternoon. Let’s not talk about the obscene amount of schoolwork and the outside projects I have to make progress on somehow. But at the moment Gus the basset hound is snoring by the French windows, and my dad is downstairs with classical music thundering through the floorboards, and this is pretty nice.
My advisor wrote, “I don’t know what the appropriate encomium is for a stone-setting ceremony, but I hope the proceedings go well for you and your family.” Me too.
In lieu of more thoughts, let me leave you with an article that’s been on my mind since I found it earlier this week. How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society starts off with all the information about having babies late that just doesn’t apply to me or interest me yet — all those worries about old eggs. (My parents were 41 and 43 when I was born, and people used to warn my mom about old eggs. Whenever I accomplished something noteworthy, my parents would smile and nod at me and say, “Old eggs.”) But then the article changes, and it becomes the piece I was hoping it would be: a discussion of fear, of the social and familial pressures of being new parents in your late thirties and beyond, and, at last, a frank discussion of what having children late means in terms of a parent’s lifespan.
There is a lot that I could say about this, but it’s a very raw time right now, so I’ll just leave this here for another essay.