Collecting Sap

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down. ~ Lily Tomlin

I press gently on the tiny balls taped on the Shen Men points on the upper insides of my ears. Heavenly gate.

Two women gathering sap from buckets in their front yard. I saw them on my run this afternoon and smiled from the road, wishing I was one of them and she was the other. Letting go, again and again, of loss itself. Homes change. Things break. Faith keeps us even when we forget.

The other night, Pearl accidentally knocked a porcelain statue that had been my grandmother’s from the top of the piano. She saw my face wince as it fell and shattered. She was so sad. I told her a story from the Kabbalah through her closed bedroom door. She was unimpressed, and sure I was mad at her. I wasn’t. Then we went to the mall and ate Blizzards from Dairy Queen and got new glasses for her sister.

Last night I slept for thirteen hours. Thirteen! Dreams heavy and thick, a thousand scenes playing out. I watch them as they occur, always aware even in the dreams that I am dreaming and sleeping for so many hours.

I leave the house only to run, my lung capacity already expanding after just eleven days. Eleven eternal days. My calves and ankles are spattered with mud. I spot more buckets fastened to maples in the woods on the side of the road and stop to peer inside while the dog sniffs and hops around excitedly, like a canine version of a jack-rabbit.

The sap drips into the tin bucket. Drip… drip… drip… maybe one drop every four or five seconds. My heartbeat slows.

I stay there crouching for maybe five minutes, just watching, listening, then run home, forcing myself not to walk up the two small hills. In three months, it will be almost June, and I will run a half-marathon again.

My head is full of stories about myself and my life that I hesitate to believe, so instead, I just breathe in and out again and again. Everything changes. Spring is coming. It takes a lot of sap to make a bottle of maple syrup, which my kids pour so liberally on their chocolate-chip pancakes.

Back home, I finally wash all the dishes and put the sheets in the dryer. I make a second pot of coffee. It’s very quiet here today.

Quiet enough to hear the drip… drip… drip…

Quiet enough to welcome the question that pierced me last night:
Is it still worth holding on for?

Quiet enough to hear the answer plunking against the bottom of an empty heart. Yes… yes… yes… I collect the truth and boil it down into something so sweet and distilled just one drop satisfies my craving.

I am here, neither lost nor broken. All one person, all one life. Fiercely hard work.

And yes, my love. So very worth it.

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