Last night I came home to bright green paint splattered all over the clothes in the dryer. Not uniformly dyed like the pink spacesuit from the "Despicable Me" movie; a crap-hit-the-fan kind of mess. One of the soccer jerseys my dad brought back from Brazil was the culprit, but throwing the offending shirt in the trash did not prevent the tears I needed to shed.
Dada's response was to buy new ones. But these were the new ones--mine, his, and the kid's. I at least had to try to wash off the stains and maybe recover some of them, because I knew I wasn't crying over a dryer mishap. My father-in-law is dying. His speedy deterioration over the past few months has tugged at everyone's heartstrings. But just as it is a lot easier to focus my emotions on imaginary characters whose fate is at the tip of my fingers, it is also safer to cry over spilled milk and paint stains, which are much less overwhelming.
This morning most of the clothes had lost their offending green streaks. Not all of them, so I wouldn't be tempted to rescue the conniving jersey from the trash bin. This means I will be looking for other silly everyday catastrophes to unburden the pain welled up inside me. I cannot mourn a loved one still with us; those tears have to wait.