Can This Superstition Wait?
This story requires some context, so before I begin, here’s some pertinent information you need to know.
I’m part Greek. With that comes a Greek family. With that comes superstitions. We just can’t help it, and I know a lot of it is silly, but I can’t lie, it’s also kind of fun. This story is an example of when it’s not fun. And very poorly timed.
At the time of this story, I was going through a long slump I couldn’t pull myself out of. I had a lot going on and was incredibly stressed and sad, always on the brink of tears, crying a lot, and having a hard time being my normally-optimistic self. It happens. (I have since listened to Girl, Wash Your Face, and my face has most certainly been washed by now.)
I’ve changed the names of the people mentioned.
I don’t mean to offend and please know that I’m not trying to make light of death...but...this is ridiculous. You’ll soon understand.
An update from the time of writing and posting this story: she’s stable and doing well.
Okay. So we begin with a bad day. A bad two weeks, really. I had already cried at my desk earlier and was texting my best friend to vent about what was going on. Only my boyfriend knew everything, so I just had to talk to a girlfriend about it. (Ladies, you know.)
Excited to go home, cuddle her dog I was dog sitting, decompress, and cry in privacy, I saw I had a missed call from my mom. All I desperately wanted to do was curl up on the couch, but instead, I put Remy’s leash on, called her back, and stepped outside for a walk. My mom had a hunch things weren’t going well on my end, but like any daughter, you don’t want your parents to know just how bad because you don’t want them to worry. I’m definitely not saying I lie to them because I tell them absolutely everything (literally every.single.thing.), but when I'm on the struggle bus, I’ll keep it general or I’ll explain things with a chipper tone in my voice despite how I’m actually feeling.
She asked how I was doing and I said, “I’m good, what’s up with you?” to quickly divert away from me and onto to her.
“Good! Good! Listen I have a favor to ask you…” and right away I was nervous. I love doing favors, that week alone I had already done a few, so it’s not that I mind at all, I was just mentally tired and in no mood for more. Selfishly, I just wanted one day, this day, to be left alone.
“I know you’ll be in Maryland on Saturday, so before you drive back up to PA on Sunday, would you mind going to visit Aunt Tina?” - who isn’t really my aunt. She was my yia yia’s best friend so she became family to my mom, you know, how close friends typically do. “Because, here’s the thing…”
*Freeze frame.* Some more background for you. I know Aunt Tina because of my yia yia, obviously, and I would see her at church and I gave her a ride home once. I’d also dial her number for my yia yia to call and talk to her when she started to go downhill. Other than these interactions, I really didn’t have much of a relationship with her. She’s a wonderful woman that I was always happy to see, but I was never as close to her as my yia yia or my mom. So where this story goes from here is just so...Greek. You’ve been warned. Mkay.
“...she’s not doing very well, and she’s been asking Sophia” - (her daughter) - “how you’re doing and where you are. She’s getting closer to the end, and Sophia is thinking that maybe if you stopped by to see her that she’ll be able to finally let go. Maybe it’s what she needs; she needs to see you so she can let go.”
Stop reading for a second and sit with this for a little.
Now picture me on the sidewalk, already a volcano of bubbling emotions and stress, stopped dead in my tracks, straight-faced, staring at nothing in particular.
As a lot of you know who have been close to someone dying before, it’s normal that they call out for people they haven’t seen in a long time. For my yia yia, she called out for her sister who had passed decades ago. But for Aunt Tina to call out for me? Honestly, I found it really random. I hadn’t seen her in years and was surprised she remembered me at all, let alone my name.
I choked back tears because I just couldn’t handle it, for several reasons. One being that, YEAH, I know, it’s kind of ridiculous. The other being, (selfishly), not now.
But no pressure, right?
At the same time all of this is going down, I was trying to pick up Remy’s poop with my back to him while he was pulling on the leash to say hello to a passerby. He’s a bernedoodle, making him basically the size of a baby horse. She proceeded to stand there and give me the dirtiest look, unwilling to simply go around us, even though she clearly saw I had my hands full. She just stood there arms crossed, waiting for me to finish bagging his poop so I could use both hands to pull him away from her. Ugh. Non-dog people, right?
Trying to keep calm, wondering why I thought it was a good idea to call my mom back as I was walking the dog, holding the poop bag in one hand with the phone against my shoulder and the other hand restraining Remy, I told my mom with my voice trembling, “Sure, yeah, okay, let me just talk to Jake because he’ll be with me and, you know, this is a little weird...” I didn’t want to disappoint my mom, Sophia, and especially Aunt Tina. She told me to think of it as “a nice gesture” and a “good deed,” but all I could think about was how close to being on the brink of totally LOSING it I was. It would be a different story if I was in a better place, or if I knew Aunt Tina better on a more personal level than just by association/as an acquaintance.
So on top of already being personally miserable, I now had this twisted, superstitious “responsibility” weighing on my shoulders. K. NBD. My mom proceeded to ask me how everything was going and that’s when I unleashed my volcanic emotions. I told her everything. There were about four factors in my life that could have been going a lot better than they were, so I spilled my guts and the floodgates were opened.
I was venting and crying and stressing and going on and on because I had so much pent up inside of me, one strife after the next, and why do people have to be so mean (yes, you, pursed-lip, anti-dog, just-go-the-HECK-around lady!), I’m doing the best I can, okay?! I finally stopped to catch my breath, calm my nerves, and compose myself, there was a brief pause, and my mom quietly said, “Yeah, nevermind about Aunt Tina.”
We both just busted out laughing because you have to, joking about how this was all straight out of a Greek comedy movie. Forget everything you’re going through, you have a heavy and ominous superstition to attend to.
Seriously, where is Sebastian Maniscalco when you need him? Where was this bit among his talk of the evil eye, “S cookies” in your school lunch that no one wanted to trade, or your neighbors having whatever it is you wanted growing up so your parents would tell you to just go to their house?
My mom apologized for the timing of it all and told me not to worry about it. She didn’t know I was that far down and this was the absolute last thing I needed. Also, talk about the freaking bleakness of it too. Crying/laughing out of slight mania, I sighed breathlessly saying, “Thank you.”
I can manage and tolerate all the other Greek superstitions, and trust me, we got a list of ‘em.
But this one…I draw the line.