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Falling apart

It's funny, isn't it, the things that break us? Over the past few days, I have held my parents' friends while they sobbed on my shoulder. I have forgiven countless people when they ask me how I am and then apologize for doing so (for the record, I will never think it strange that you care enough to ask me, as long as you don't mind that my answer will be "I don't know"). I have accepted countless kindnesses from people whose hearts are breaking because, no matter how fervently they wish it, a coffee cake is not a cure for cancer. I have started to count his "lasts": last phone call with so-and-so; last time petting a kitty's soft fur. But today a massage therapist told me Dad's massage had already been paid for and I. FELL. APART. It was sweet and generous, but no more or less so than so many of the other wonderful things people have done for us. And yet it somehow managed to tear down the last vestige of this veneer--a transparent veneer, mind you, but a veneer nonetheless. And now it's gone. And here I am, raw and sodden and aching.

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