Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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My husband had been sick long enough, a string of years, that I’d begun to think of his diagnosis as a rumor. He was interminably terminally ill. Until he wasn’t.
The desire to hang on to youth for as long as one could — to see that as greed was new to me, and the idea had deep implications for how I saw myself.
We all need to accept that the world at large is indifferent to our existence. Most of our decisions matter only to us. I could drink tonight, and no one would know.
A glistening white steamship, launched in 1924, with an old-fashioned straight-up-and-down bow and tall single funnel from which billowed thick black smoke, it was, like my mother, an unapologetic citizen from a different time.
You never grew tired of watching her work. You loved the hum of the machine, the sawdust that stuck to her sleeve, and how she bent her head over the wood like something swan. You knew she was sharing something intimate with you. You were witnessing prayer.
I leave with my sunglasses on, waving my hand. Sometimes you call my name, your voice a taut string, and I think Michael might snap in half. But it’s strong — a tether.
“Home improvement” always entails physically fixing up one’s house. But what about the emotional work of homeownership? One way to improve your home is through gratitude and acceptance. Does everything constantly need to be “fixed”?
I want to help carry the burden when it is heaviest. The dying patients and their families need time with a compassionate stranger: someone they don’t have to expend their fragile energy to try to support or protect.
For all Dad’s skill with wood and tools, his life was sloppily built. Some sorrow whose origins I can’t name led him to consistently misread the ruler. What does a son do with the wreckage of his father’s life forty-six years after his death?
I could feel the losses of my past lurking nearby. Not just animals but other losses, too. They exhaled from the piles like human whispers.