Goose and I ate a quick breakfast and got ready to go. Today is the Celebration of Life service for Amy, a coworker of mine. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And with her wonderful exuberance and love of life, she lived each day with joy. There is much to celebrate. She reached out for and achieved her dreams. Her life is an ongoing inspiration. She told me many times how I taught her things… but its Amy that continues to teach and encourage me.
Goose said he’d drive me but that he wasn’t ready to go to anyone’s funeral. Not even someone he didn’t know. When we arrived at the church, he dropped me off. People were streaming inside the doors. The sun was shining through all of the windows of the church. In spite of the beautiful music and the sunshine however, the people gathering to Celebrate Amy’s life were very somber. Just inside the door, I saw some of my coworkers and joined them inside the sanctuary. Together we remembered the amazing woman Amy was and we saw in this church today some of the lives she had touched. Including our own.
I remembered when Amy was first diagnosed and how we all rallied to support her and show her our love. We held a “Pink Party”. Everything pink. During the years of her treatment Any went on to travel to places she had wanted to see. And she learned to tap dance. She even gave us a performance at a staff meeting with her braids swinging from side to side as she danced. She didn’t let something like a diagnosis keep her from living and enjoying her life to the fullest.
As the service ended, all of us gathered in the hallway and decided to have lunch together at Amy’s favorite spot. I called Goose and we joined everyone. This is the first time Goose will meet people from my world. This is the first time people from my world will see me with someone other than my ex. I had to give kudos to Goose for facing a group of liberated free-spirited women. Each of them welcomed Goose (the only guy here, which I’m certain added to his nervousness). Every now and then someone would draw him into the conversation. I appreciated their acceptance that day.
I have to say though that Goose was very withdrawn throughout the lunch and the rest of the afternoon in fact. Once lunch was over and everyone was back into their weekend, Goose and I drove to Waterloo Iowa to a casino. We were both unusually quiet during the drive. Once at the casino Goose got situated at a blackjack table. I wandered through the casino and ran into Linda, a good friend of Tammy’s. We chatted a bit and she showed me one of her favorite slot machines. She was focused on her game and I excused myself to locate Goose. His game wasn’t going well and it wasn’t an hour before we got back on the road. It was just an awkward, off sort of day. Goose and I were unbalanced both in ourselves and as a couple.
I have always enjoyed our Sundays together. Sleeping late in the mornings and having a nice leisurely breakfast together. Reading the paper and ‘watching football.’ Some Sundays Goose did volunteer work for a few hours in the afternoon. Today is one of those Sundays. As we finished the newspaper, I checked the weather forecast. They are calling for yet another snow event. It seems every single Monday morning there is a snowstorm as I’m driving back home. Frankly, I dont’ like driving on treacherous winter roads. Especially the interstate highway with all of the crazy semi truck drivers. They just barrel through without the slightest slow down. Til they end up jack-knifed in the median. I just don’t want to be in their way when they make this uncalculated move. So even though the sun is shining and there’s no indication what so ever that bad weather is coming, I told Goose that when he left for his volunteer work, I’d just head home and avoid the weather completely.
He looked very disappointed. “I thought we’d have dinner together and watch the game when I got home. I really think the storm will miss us here.”
He asked me to reconsider. But we’d been so ‘off’ for the whole weekend, that I thought it might be best to just give us some space to regroup. Against my better judgement, I agreed to stay the night. Goose thanked me for agreeing to stay. And he left with a bounce in his step.
To fill my afternoon, I drove 14 miles to Owatonna Minnesota and did some shopping and had lunch. I called Michele as I drove back to Goose’s. I filled her in on the latest updates.. the AA meeting, and the talk about his wife’s purse on Saturday morning, Amy’s funeral and the relentless awkwardness ever since then. We agreed that life is just a huge puzzle and it’s all about putting the pieces together. (I am soo bad at puzzles!) I think my puzzle has pieces missing. As I turned down the black top I could see the familiar blue-grey hue to the clouds in the northwest. Even without a crystal ball I know a storm is approaching.
The dogs didn’t even get up when I got back to Goose’s driveway. They did however wag from their napping spots. I went inside and got my computer fired up. I checked email and signed onto Facebook. One of my Facebook friends, Rob, was sharing about a job search he was involved in. I clicked on his chat box and asked if he had any good leads. He’s excited about an interview on Tuesday. I offered to be a reference if he needed one. He was happy to include me on his reference list, so I gave him all of my contact information to include on his resume. I was glad to help.
Goose began texting me as soon as he left the volunteer site. He wanted me to know he was going to stop and pick up a few things at the grocery store for our dinner and then he’d be back. We bantered back and forth a bit and the light-heartedness between us seemed to be back. Thank goodness! I went and primped before he arrived. I heard the garage door opening and I knew he was here, and I met him at the door with a hug and kiss. He handed me a couple of bags while he took off his coat. I could see the relief on his face that ‘we’ were refreshed once again. Until…..
Goose asked what I’d been up to all afternoon. I yammered on about my trip to Owatonna, shopping, lunch and a chat with Michele. He unpacked ingredients for shrimp cocktail from one bag as I talked. He was smiling and teasing me about shopping. Then my computer dinged.. Rob was messaging me that he wanted to verify my work phone number for his resume. Goose began emptying the other grocery bag. I came back into the kitchen and he asked if everything was alright.
I walked up to Goose and playfully threw my arms around him as I answered,
“It was Rob, a Facebook friend of mine. He’s got a job interview on Tuesday and needed my work phone number so I can give him a reference.”
Goose stepped back out of my playful grasp. A look of surprise crossed his face. It was my turn to ask if everything was alright.
I started putting together the shrimp cocktail and Goose went into the livingroom and his recliner. When I carried in our plates and napkins, Goose had logged onto his computer. The screen facing outward toward me as I walked over to the recliner. I handed him a plate and a dish of cocktail sauce. As I turned to go back to the kitchen, I looked at his computer screen. It looked oddly familiar. But it wasn’t until I returned with the shrimp that I recognized what I had seen.
Goose had opened the computer page to the dating site we had met on. And he had a woman’s profile page open. Her smiling face beaming from the screen. (After a moment of disbelief, I said to myself ‘you’ve got to be #@$% kidding me!‘)
I took a deep cleansing breath, 2 – 3 – 4! It wasn’t working, 2 – 3 – 4! (in my head I was screaming explicatives.. I’ll spare you all the gory details of that.) I sat on the couch in distress and considered my next move. I began by trying to figure out what had triggered this. Ahhh, it was the referral for Rob. Goose is jealous! What the heck for?! It doesn’t make any sense. Goose and I talked last weekend about both of us having other people in our lives to equal out the dynamics of our relationship. But this.. this is just helping a friend. Nothing romantic.
Jealousy is never a good thing in any relationship. Never. I was NOT flattered. I was instead very disappointed in Goose. Even more in myself. I kept wanting this to be something special. And every time we are together it becomes more and more the opposite of special. Damn it. (Oops, let that one slip.) Now, what to do about this. I’m a grown up. I’m a responsible, mature and caring woman. I knew exactly what to do. It’s called having Dignity and Grace.
Goose wants very much for me to acknowledge the picture on his computer screen smiling at me. I refused. He wants a fight. He wants me not to have other people in my life. Heck.. after his display at Amy’s Celebration of Life… he doesn’t want me to have a life at all outside of him. (Damn it!) This is unfortunately resembling the bad parts of the life I just left. (Damn it.)
Without saying a word, I got up and walked into the bedroom. I closed the door. I opened the closet door and took my suitcase out and laid it on the bed. I packed my clothes. I went into the bathroom and gathered my grooming products. I took these things to the kitchen door. I walked into the livingroom and turned off my laptop.
Matter-of -factly, I said, “I’m going to head home to avoid the storm.”
Goose didn’t reply. He didn’t move from his recliner.
I put on my coat and carried my suitcase to the car. I opened the garage door and backed my car out to the driveway. I went inside for my make up bag and computer case.
Goose asked, “Do you need help getting things in your car?”
“No, I’ve got it loaded already. Goodbye Goose.”
“Aren’t you going to come and give me a kiss?”
“No, I have snow on my shoes, I’m not coming in on the carpet. Take care.”
With my bags in my hands, I turned out of the kitchen and walked through the door.
The dogs were wandering in confusion in the garage. It was dark now and they knew it wasn’t the time I’d usually be leaving. I put the bags in the car. The dogs were next to my car as I closed the garage door. I petted each of them. “I just can’t do this to myself again.” I told them. “I’m sorry.. I just can’t.”
I was a mile down the black top when Goose texted me. “Call me when you get on the road.”
I didn’t call.