I’m not the most graceful person – never have been. I can trip over nothing, miss the lip of my coffee cup, bump into a wall – and that’s just walking from one end of the kitchen to the other. Would that these were marketable skills. What I typically balance well though are the variable weights of the thought bubbles in my head. Have you ever stopped to consider how many disconnected thoughts jump around your mind in a five-minute period? Some complete, others rejected. Some stubbornly intractable, others as ephemeral as a breeze. So we go through our days.
Perhaps it’s the disparate qualities of these thoughts that make them manageable. When life events collide, and the thoughts are connected despite the qualities that make them each unique – well, that’s another story…that’s the stuff of which headaches are made. Juggling – it’s not for the faint of heart.
Over the last few days, much has happened that is disparate yet similar. Andy turned sixty. My aunt passed away. Our well temporarily ran out of water – literally.
Sixty is an impressive number. A bit frightening even though the alternative is far scarier. And this generation of ours is making sixty look damn good. My daughter-in-law added a perspective I hadn’t considered – a birthday just makes you one day older than the day before. Well that just means that Andy is 59 plus a few days. And he wears it well. But when he looked at me yesterday and simply said “I’m sixty years old”, I felt the weight of those words. He is surprised naturally – how did we get here? I’m still wondering whether or not he’s going to ask me to go steady.
We also had just come home from the funeral service for my aunt. I hesitate to write too much about her, for as much as I loved her, there are four cousins of mine and six grandchildren who are the rightful authors of her story. She was a vibrant, social, politically passionate spitfire with a great smile. I remember lots of family moments at her house. Her husband and my dad (they were brothers) singing “The Bluebird Of Happiness” before collapsing in tears of laughter. Laughter. That’s it. I remember laughter. I choose to remember laughter. And how loving they were to my children. Her last years were stolen by Alzheimer’s – an unforgiving thief.
And she was the last of my parents’ cohort group. The last of my aunts and uncles. It suggests that my sister, cousins and I are now next in this ineffable path. I find that a difficult thought to hold onto for very long; I want to drop it, so I can pick it up when I’m ready – and yet it feels like it’s covered in Velcro. I’m not ready for all the ramifications of being a grown-up. My hunch is none of us are. I am in love with life and I am angry that it has to end as we know it. My head aches. My heart aches. And the sun rose this morning as it always does.
The well feels a bit dry as you can probably tell. The well guys were here already this morning and needed to swap out a part, advising us to keep the power off for a couple of hours to give the well a chance to refill. It seems like good advice. Sometimes you just have to power down and give it all over. Cry a bit. Accept that there are questions without answers or at least fight them with less vehemence. Let the sun hurt your eyes as it warms your skin. It’s okay.
RadiatingBlossom.wordpress.com posted a poem yesterday which has stayed in my bones. It seems a far better closing thought than anything I could offer.
The Thing Is – Ellen Bass
To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.