Mani had an anaphylactic reaction this week to pistachios and went by ambulance to the ER on Wednesday morning. The paramedic turned the heart monitor around when he noticed she was looking at it. She is fine, she is fine, she is fine. I drove to the hospital, seven minutes that felt like a year, saying, “This is not how this ends.” The next morning, she had a secondary reaction and injected her thigh with an epi-pen herself as we drove back over the bridge to Northampton on our way to the ER. She is fine, she is fine. We will never leave the house without an epi-pen again. We will not eat baklava, ever. We sat recounting all the close calls yesterday, our own, our kids’, all the could-have-died stories. And so we give thanks.
It’s 8:31pm as I sit down to write. I’m already in bed, under the covers. Today was rainy and tonight it’s downright chilly outside. I’m wearing fleecy pajama bottoms, and my glasses. I’ve had a headache all day, and just realized that I’ve probably been taking too much Advil for my little liver, so I’m laying off of that and sipping a latte instead. The latte was free; the computers at Starbucks were down and the barista we like so much made us four drinks–two for the morning. We left her all our cash as a tip, about $4. We had dinner at my parents’ house, just the four of us. We looked at old pocket watches and researched the origins of Friday the 13th. The girls are with their dad and my sister’s family at a campground about 40 miles from here. It’s Friday night. Shabbat Shalom.
Today, I had an overwhelming need to say thank you, or something, to everyone who likes and comments on my poems on Facebook. I wrote a whole long thing about it, and then deleted it. Instead, I wrote just this: “I appreciate you.” This afternoon, I left messages for four friends, dear ones, who I haven’t spoken to in months. I miss them. I thought, I am going to pick up the phone now to call them. One at a time. Nobody picked up, but one friend from Vermont called me back twenty minutes later and we caught up about life. She sounded happy, and this made me happy. I feel patient and urgent at the same time.
I came across a couple of things today about imperfection. I listened to Mani as she talked with one of her daughters on the phone about Samson and Delilah. About Joseph. About Biblical stories and human flaws. Right now, I can hear her daughter singing on the other end of the line, even though Mani is in the other room. It is a beautiful thing, a girl singing to her mother. It is a beautiful thing, being imperfect together. It is a beautiful thing, to eat Costco lasagna with one’s parents, looking at a pocket watch said to have killed a man in the late 19th century. It is beautiful to wear war paint with an eleven-year-old girl, mascara horizontally painted beneath our eyes, wedge heels and the dresses we’ll wear next week at my cousin’s wedding. To watch as my partner writes her lists, crossing some things off and transferring others to tomorrow. It is a beautiful thing to imagine tomorrow, because tomorrow will mean we are still here.
Tonight, the moon is concealed by clouds. The honey moon, the rose moon, June moon, mead moon. I can’t see it, but I can feel its fullness deep in my pelvis, round and bright. I carry it there, along with every hug and every “I love you.” I carry it with the appreciation for each and every person who has crossed my path or stuck around or moved on. I’ve lost touch with lots of people, and have also begun to meet new neighbors. Right this minute, everyone is doing something. When I was a kid, I used to trip out over this–especially when I thought about that one person I’d love someday, out there in the world. I think about celebrities, sometimes, how someone we imagine has a life so different from ours is brushing her teeth or eating a peach or turning the page of a magazine in the bathroom while she pees or taking a walk around the block to cool off a hot head or flipping the channels of the TV thinking nothing’s on.
A million moments. A million friends. A million likes don’t touch a single hug from a child, a million dollars don’t rival a bedroom photo shoot, a million descriptions will never capture the blink when the bird leaves the wire. A quiet evening at home, a total stream-of-consciousness post, puddles and pollen collecting in pools where the driveway dips. Something about her eyes that looks different–brighter, wider, totally unfettered. Alive, alive.
There’s plenty of talk about being in the moment. About living mindfully. About gratitude and about paying attention. What I know is that the deck is strewn with petals from the peonies, which I moved outside because they were making Mani sneeze bedside. What I know is that I’m wildly in love with my kids, and can’t get over my fortune at being their mama. What I know is that the rain has slowed to a drizzle, and my headache is hanging on, and sleep will help. That my sisters are my best friends, and that the friends I miss still love me, that I want to hang out with people and not schedule coffee dates for 30 minutes between other things. That I need to update my will. That we have to talk about these things. That we have a lot of sanding to do tomorrow if we’re ever going to finish that desk. That there is a latte waiting for me in the fridge for the morning, and it was free, and came with a smile.
Life is a lot of things. Fable and flaws and imperfection and beauty and headaches and calls to 911 and the aftershock of Thank God and the blessing of we’re-out-of-toothpaste-did-you-take-out-the-recycling? There is so much good, good stuff out there, people. So much brave living going on, and so much pain and violence I can hardly stand it sometimes. It’s all part of this life, this world. You’re out there doing something, right this minute. Reading this, and also bouncing your leg or glancing at the clock or sipping a Coke or scratching a bug bite or worrying about school shootings or getting ready to go out for the evening. We are such complex beings, and also so simple. The light is simple. Our bodies are fragile and strong. What accounts for why this one is a close call and another is a heartache is beyond me.
So all I can do is notice, and live, and call, and answer. Say “I appreciate you,” and say, “I love you,” and say, “Thank you.”
I’m not sure there’s anything else to it.