Stage 2: Anger
Normally, I'm not an angry person. People who know me however, will tell you that you won't like me when I'm angry, because I have the ability to transform into a hulking, green-skinned monster capable of untold destruction and mayhem. Fortunately, it doesn't occur very often, but when it does, pity the poor object of my wrath.
Saturday was a case-in-point. I spent the better part of the morning and afternoon trying to keep a lid on the volcanic emotions that were threatening to boil over. It seemed that everywhere I went, people were just learning the news, or in some instances, I was the bearer of sad tidings. First it was one of my neighbors, then running into G outside the Childrens' Theatre. Then people on the bus, then people at the Empty Space Shop. Each time, I'd have to literally stop and compose myself enough to speak in a clear, coherent voice and not let the emotions overwhelm me. Working helped. For a few hours, I managed to just focus on cutting, routing, screwing, gluing and stapling. Concentrating on the task at hand and not dwelling on my own feelings.
But of course, that can only get you so far. At some point the work stops, and the mind begins to return to the gnawing hurt rolling around inside your guts like a ball of razor wire. And then you start to get angry. It's a natural response, part of the grieving process as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross theorized many years ago. You have to work your way through it, but for someone like me, someone who can turn into a green-skinned monster given sufficient infusion of anger, it's not as clear-cut a process.
I decided I needed to do something good, something to acknowledge the grief, and come to terms with it. I went to Larry's and bought seven blue candles, some flowers, paper lunch bags, cat litter and incense sticks. Then I walked over to the Seattle Center Fountain. There was a large crowd showing up for a Sonics game, and I experienced another brief Hulk-flash when I got there and saw that no one else had thought to make a similar gesture. No crowds spontaneously gathering like for 911 or Kurt Cobain or GW-I. Just the flag atop the Space Needle lowered to half-mast, lit by high-intensity spotlights shooting straight up to the sky, as if pointing in the direction of where it all went down. But nobody seemed to notice.
So, I took my things, made seven candle bags and placed them in a ring around the edge of the fountain. Then I took seven of the tulips and layed them at the base of the walkway in a star pattern, then lit seven sticks of incense and placed them nearby. Then I sat down on a bench.
People came by, some stopping to look into the bags, curious but uncomprehending. Some kids started jumping over the bags like hurdles, chasing each other around and around with inexhaustible energy. One of them blew out several of the candles. A couple on the far side of the fountain relit them. I don't know if they even knew what they were there for, but I was at least solaced by the fact that they recognized they had some kind of significance and felt the need to respect that. Later, a group of teenagers wandered by and sat down near me. I could overhear some of their conversation, and it was clear a couple of the boys wanted to blow out the candle nearby, but the girls with them kept telling them not to. Finally, the temptation just proved too great for one of them. I silently walked over, relit it and returned to my seat. I was afraid if I said something it would come out hostile and threatening, so I just kept my mouth shut.
I stayed there for about three hours, sitting, gazing at the candles, watching the people, not saying a word, not wanting to explain anything, but hoping that somehow a few of them understood the message represented by seven small lights in the darkness. Finally, I went home.
I made the mistake of stopping in at the bar next to my boat. Anger and alcohol do not mix, I know, but I was at that point in the day when I just didn't want to feel anything at all. But of course, that means you have to drink an awful lot before you reach a state of insensation, and unfortunately, the big green guy snuck out when I wasn't looking.
Later, when I had him back under control, I made another phone call to apologize to the lady at the message service for yelling at her because the flag outside our building hadn't been lowered to half-mast like all the other flags I'd seen that day. So far as I know at 2:30 on a Monday afternoon it's still not lowered in respect of the dead.
And that makes me angry.
on 2:33 PM