At this moment, I’m drinking cider on a train to Yorkshire with my husband as we read Elif Shafak books – The Flea Palace and The Bastard of Istanbul. I didn’t blog at all in June. June got ate up with the practicality of teaching Norah, our youngest, to drive. I didn’t teach Flannery and Lucy to drive – didn’t have the heart or stomach for it in Los Angeles, so I left it to Kiffen. So I was due to teach our third one and teaching a kid to drive in Birmingham wasn’t awful – it wasn’t exactly fun but it wasn’t terrifying. And she actually did fine – we practiced in the evenings at first and then during the day and then during rush hour over skinny Red Mountain. We practiced in parking garages and trips to the airport over First Avenue North. We practiced driving to Mountain Brook, Homewood, Crestwood, and Saigon Noodle House. We practiced Highway 31 in Tennessee from Nashville to Franklin.
I taught her how to pump gas. We didn’t do the Interstate.
Because she had to stay in Birmingham during the month of June with her volunteer job at the hospital and new job at Saigon Noodle House, Kiffen and I did a swap. I had to teach at Antioch in LA, so I flew back first, and we overlapped a few days and then he flew back to be with Norah. Here is my favorite story Norah told about doing surveys with patients at the hospital.
Norah: On a level of 1-10 what is your anxiety?
Patient: I don’t have NO anxiety.
Norah: So on a scale of 1-10 that would be a –
Norah: Hmmm. 7 is pretty high for someone who has no anxiety.
Patient: What can I say? I like the number 7.
And for most of June, I got to be with Lucy who needed physical therapy for her knee, which is recovering beautifully, and we had time together. We never really get to hang out together one-on-one, and I feel like we actually revisited her childhood from trips to the dentist, the doctor, the movies, a play, her childhood best friend, Paulina, who now has a baby, dinner with friends, wisdom teeth out, bingeing on “Orange is the New Black” and just hanging out with Olive when I wasn’t teaching at Antioch.
But during this very busy time, we lost a friend, Anton. A boy really, a wonderful actor and sweet kid with a giant heart. He was 27. I learned of his death the day of a horrible heatwave in Los Angeles after I’d been teaching all day. Kiffen called to tell me.
And everyday of last week, I woke up thinking – it can’t be true. It can’t be true. Lucy and I went to the funeral together. The rabbi spoke such wise and loving words, I still can’t accept that Anton is gone. He was a brilliantly talented young man with a huge heart who tried to help our son get well. I have so much more to write about all of it but I’m not ready yet.
So June rocked us hard, but now Norah is off to New York to be with my sister most of July before she goes to “Young Diplomats,” and Lucy and her boyfriend, Trent, just moved into a new place in Roger’s Park in Chicago. And our son, Flannery, is doing his thing and he knows how much we love him.
So I want to breathe in England and Ireland with Kiffen and try to let go the grief of June. I want to carry Anton in my heart. I want to see dear old friends celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in Yorkshire and visit my cousin in Malin Head, Donegal.
For now, I’m simply glad to ride trains and sip cider and read books and be with Kiffen on this adventure as the train pulls into Leeds.