Sitting inside my apartment with, as usual these days, too much time on my hands; listening to the non-stop rain bouncing off, splashing, clinking on the metal fire-escape outside the window–off the metal windowsills, and down on to the bricks in cement courtyard six floors below…
Seems to me that such a day has far more charm in the country or even in other parts of the city where things are smaller and quieter.
I remember the rain hitting the wood and tar-paper roof of the little house I grew up in out in Queens, and watching the drops hit the leaves of the trees in the backyard.. There are few sounds as peaceful and evocative as raindrops hitting a roof or landing on leaves or splashing in small puddles… I guess, though, that sound and that quiet, philosophical state it induces is really as much a state of mind as a circumstantial event.. Even here in Manhattan, amidst the huge, faceless brick, stone and glass towers, amidst the incessant rushing and noise of traffic and humanity–even here, the raindrops bouncing off metal and cement and the puddles of water outside–give you a sense of nature that is otherwise almost absent from the perception of your five senses… Cozier, such times are, when there are two of you to hear it–but still, there is grace that is conferred even in solitude when the rain falls down all day and you are inside, warm hopefully, even better if
you are doing something productive or creative–or maybe just reading a book you like…
I remember that song by the Lovin Spoonful–was it called “Rain on The Roof”? I think it was… “You and me and rain on the roof..”
A great song, starting off with the sound of rain–
Today is my mother’s birthday… the poor, tragic woman, dead now, by her own hand, 35 years… Because of the awful circumstances of my growing up, my twisted relationship to her, I never grieved her death, so sudden–and despite her previous attempts and threats to kill herself– and none-the-less shocking when it happened.
I sat in that little bed-room with her, in the same house I grew up in listening to rain hit the roof; waiting for men from the coroner’s office to come, ironically experiencing a more peaceful moment then than I ever had with her the entire time she was alive. I felt the beginnings of a kind of awe and then sadness start to enter into me…
But after the ambulance had come, and they zipped her up in a body bag and took her out, leaving me alone in that room; the anger, the life-long rage I had when I even thought of or pictured her, started up again–now multiplied a hundred times by the circumstance of her death.
In fact, it had been only two weeks before that she had called me to help her look at a new apartment she bought in Northern Queens–something she had done because all her friends and even her sister were moving to Florida, where she refused to follow.
She had never asked me for help, not real help, not something I could do, not the usual, “save me or else!” I’d heard from her all my life up until then. No, she actually wanted my opinion about the new place she had put a down payment on. So I drove her out there, we went in, and I was fixing blinds, inspecting the radiators, checking the stove, the doors.. giving her advice. And she was actually grateful, even smiling–all in normal way that I don’t believe I had ever seen her do before.
When I dropped back at her house and drove home to Brooklyn, I was as happy as I had ever been in my life–just to be able to really do something real and helpful for her for once.
Two weeks later I get the call from my Aunt to come out because my mother had killed herself.
In the last few years grief, sadness, has started to come over me, but I have not been able to feel it, to handle it at all.
I have stayed angry at her all this time at such a cost to my own life and ability to create or to love or do much of anything in the last few years…
Yet recently I have, I hope, really begun to grieve– I was sobbing today when I was eating breakfast and suddenly thought of the poor woman–and later again when I was trying to meditate… And I find, not that I hadn’t comprehended this in some way before, that its all about water… I see my friends and other people close to me, grieving over the dying and the deaths of their parents, and I see the tears come and go and I have always wondered at that–even envied it… Because what I have done all these years is frozen myself so that I didn’t feel the heat and motion of real grief… So now, kept down for 35 years, there is a great salty ocean of grief to be felt and I am afraid it will carry me away in a towering tidal wave–carry me away out into the depths of this ocean, never to be heard of or seen again..
What I’m hoping, now that the unfreezing has begun and the tears have started to flow, is that there is a natural shut-off valve, that you experience as much as you stand at a time, then are given some relief before the next wave starts..
You and me and rain on the roof…
Maybe it will rain on and off for a long time, but anything is better than living inside a glacier for almost 40 years…
Happy Birthday, Mom… Somewhere, someplace, you’re finally happy… and that makes me smile.
The rain is still falling, the drops hitting the fire-escape and the window sill and the puddles down below in the courtyard… By tomorrow the sun will be out, and the city will be a whole lot fresher and cleaner than it was yesterday..
– Mike Feder (New York City – June 6, 2009)