Today’s blog was supposed to be something very different, I had plans to talk about one or all of my ex-boyfriends, how marriage is hard, but worth it, or how parenting is fun, but not. But I can’t do that today, because we are temporary. I was reminded of it 3 times last week.
The death of my husband’s co-worker, the anniversary of my aunt’s passing, and the impending loss of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (If you missed the dating profile she penned for her husband, in the event of her death, you can find it here)
My life has had a smattering of hardships, but death has not been one of them; minor inconveniences in comparison. No freak accidents, not a single battle with terminal illness.
This week has found me a little frantic. My mind went the usual places when faced with tragedy, the wormhole of terror welcomed me and down I went. I stared at my husband’s t-shirt covered chest and imagined his heart underneath it, working to keep him in front of us. And then I pictured it malfunctioning. Jamming like a printer.
And I wanted to scream at him, “You are not careful enough for us! You are not careful enough for this family!” All of that pizza and the chicken strips, and not nearly enough cardiovascular exertion. Doesn’t he know he has a daughter who looks just like him and a wife that doesn’t know how to pay a mortgage? He's so careless with our collective well being. Infants rest on their mother’s chest and experience an array of benefits; it regulates their breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. My husband does those things for me, and then some. He regulates my life, he brings me toilet paper to wipe my face with when I cry, and he talks me down from every ledge I’ve ever been on and waits patiently when talking won’t do. I’m the mother I am because of the father he is, and I’m not sure what would be left of me for my daughter without him.
And then I remembered that death isn’t fair and it doesn’t play by the rules. So I had 8 strips of bacon for dinner, opened a beer, and flipped through Rosenthal’s first memoir. I smiled because she is funny, and twinged when she mentioned mortality, and ached because when she published that book no one could have known that her own ending would be written too soon. I contemplated one of those all organic, vegan diets. I’ve seen a few of those articles circulating on Facebook, “man receives cancer diagnosis, and self cures with diet.” You know, I figure I could get ahead of the catastrophe.
I picked up a phone call from my grandmother, one that I would usually let go to voicemail. The conversation was essentially 35 seconds of her shrieking in glee because a) I picked up the phone and b) she wanted to tell me about the American Girl dolls she was buying for my daughter. The girl doll AND the boy doll. I started to get a little tight in the chest, worrying about what my toddler might do to those expensive dolls. Cause you know, playing with them seems unreasonable.
And isn’t that a metaphor for my life. Wanting to keep safe, and clean, and new, but knowing that joy is on the other side of that. It’s being taken down from the shelf. Danger and dirt are inevitable. Bacon, cancer, green leafy vegetables, organic, fear and fair trade are all a part of it. In what amount we don't know.
Pick up the phone, take the doll out of the box, tears on the couch because we are all temporary.
Lead contributor, editor of The Spilled Milk Club
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