I came near to having an argument with my son last night. I made a comment about one of our family members who is less than empathetic with others, especially me, and he snapped at me, accusing me of being self-centered. We were both right and we were both wrong.
I went home feeling sad and irritated, which slipped into depressed. I watched two films in a row on TV. I couldn’t go to bed until 1 a.m. because I knew I’d lie awake, hurting. I love my son and it is beyond endurance to have a spat.
In bed I couldn’t sleep although I’d been awake since dawn the day before. Finally I succumbed to a sleeping pill which normally allows six hours peaceful sleep. It was about 2 a.m. by the time I dropped off.
At eight I woke up and lay there feeling miserable. One can do more damage in a sharply worded riposte to someone beloved than with an AK47 against an enemy. I was too depressed to get up. My normal routine is, rising with purpose and pleasure in the day ahead. I could hardly move, and as a result I slipped back into sleep. When I finally got up and went to make coffee I was astonished to discover it was 1 o’clock in the afternoon. This is without precedent. Myself and I had a quick argument about fighting chagrin and resisting depression, and I’m glad to say I won.
When he phoned me an hour later he spoke brightly, asking how my day was going? Fine! I said, equally buoyant in tone, How about you? He then told me about the gardening he’d done this morning and consulted me on an old family recipe about pickling vegetables, of which he has an abundance from his garden. We discussed the vegetables to include, the size to chop them, the necessary salting in advance, and then he promised me a jar or two when it is finished. He’s making Christmas presents already in August and I applauded that. I told him about the presents I’m making too, and we wished each other a happy day. The whole interchange was implied by tone of voice.
When I put the phone down I could have wept with relief. We had forgiven each other, as well as ourselves and it was all expressed in a conversation about pickles. Close families know how to speak in code and we had both just said ‘You can be a pain in the neck sometimes but I love you anyway. Unconditionally.’