I Did That
I DID that. I did THAT. I pushed through the fog of the flu. I went to the doctor, saw the two calls from my mother and called her back.
An inability to walk.
A shattered tibia.
Adrenaline took charge. I packed bags and drank caffeine and Do I Have My Comforter and My Pillow? and made many yellow, sticky mental notes. I hoped they’d stick.
I drove to Chicago, my Diet Coke and I reunited after a six-day break. We were happy to meet again, sweet bubbles dancing in my mouth and belly. The opening chords of Huey Lewis & The News’ Do You Believe in Love broke into my dimly lit car cocoon. I gasped like a giddy, tweenaged girl and SANG IT. Oh the smooth harmonies. I’m waiting for Huey to call ANY SECOND.
I DID THAT. I drove the five hours, straight to the hospital and parked the car, taking photos like little bread crumbs to find my way whenever I was able to find my way back. Hoping that I’d find my way back.
I kissed her and held her hand and read the opening pages of Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home to her. I let her read the summary, worried that a story of 14-year-old June may not entice her, but I promised that the writing was exquisite, that the characters are layered subtly and beautifully. Is There Anything She Hasn’t Read?, I wondered to myself. Not this. I took solace in the well-crafted words of another, giving my own intonation and imagining if I were the author, reading to a group, where I would want the pauses. Would Rifka Brunt put them here?
I came back to my voice and glanced at my mom, her eyes resting, lulled by the cadence of my voice. Carol Rifka Brunt and I brought her a moment of peace.
I stayed with her, in the ER, helping, talking, staying until a room transfer could occur. I kissed her goodnight and cared for her the way she herself taught through countless examples. Countless hours, layering love upon love upon love, always staying.
I wondered not if she were proud of me, but proud of herself for the example she lived for me, that I stepped into and whispered into the dark night, through her searing pain.
Ambiguity swilling, pushing at the dark shadows of the quiet. Her right leg. Her teaching. Her students. She lives alone. My brother and I live away, not here. Where I am now. How Will She Drive How Will She Shop Will She Come to Live With Me and Us and Oh Please Will Her Pain Subside and now, Will Her Students Miss Her Quiet Calm and Many, Many Lessons?
Ambiguity, always present. And so, I reach out from this foggy seat, the seat of Rilke’s Questions, and touch the certain. My chest, my breath. The sun. Oh, the trees. Always the trees, echoing my ebbs and flows and teaching just as she does. Strong. Powerful. Quiet. Leaning in to hear their wisdom, proudly squaring my shoulders knowing I’ve stepped certainly into this moment. I Loved Her Am Loving Her Love Her. I did that. Just now. I really, truly did.
Last month, I participated in a fabulous on-line writing group, lead by the lovely, talented Jena Schwartz. Her final writing prompt yielded this free-write. I am so grateful I gifted myself the time to write, with Jena and other talented writers. I think, as a result of this experience, I am going to use this space a bit differently, a bit like a writing playground. I’ll try new things. I may call out, like a child on the monkey bars, “Hey! Watch me! Watch THIS!!” And maybe it’ll be good and maybe I’ll just fall. But I’ll brush off my knees, mulch falling back to ground, and begin again. As Jena writes, “Write. Practice. Be Good to Yourself.”