The Shortest Distance

This past week has been jam-packed. Kids returned on a red-eye from a ten-day road trip in California with their dad, just in time for the last few days of school, Aviva’s graduation from sixth grade, and my nephew’s deeply moving bar mitzvah weekend.

The Charleston attack. The loss of those beautiful individuals. Bible study. Bible study!

My heart hurts and I’m sad and angry and I’ve been talking a lot to the girls about it, thinking about friends of color who can’t ever shut this off and not wanting my own white privilege to make me an implicit bystander to the racism that defines America for many, many people who are just living their lives. Fuck.

Shabbat services Friday night at the JCA, where I wept by the second song after my sister caught my eye and the music melted all the holding places in my heart. Later, Aviva and Pearl wanted to know why I’d been crying, something I often do on the rare Friday night I find myself in the sanctuary, surrounded by community and the most beautiful, grounded music, prayers that don’t change even as we change. I told them it is a kind of landing for me, not unlike the way yoga can open me that way. Sadness, yes, but also the relief of sitting with people I love in a holy space of quiet and song.

Now those two are off to spend a couple of weeks in Vermont at their grandma’s house, going to mountain bike and theatre camps and seeing old friends. I miss them and find that I cherish our time together even more when they’re on the go. Pearl was up in the middle of the night not feeling well, and I sang to her and rubbed her back and snuggled till she got back to sleep, just so grateful to be there with her. This morning was a flurry of packing before brunch at my parents’ place, water bottles and raincoats and hiking boots and hopefully enough clean underwear and lots of hugs from me.

In the car when I got all sentimental, V said: Don’t be one of those moms who has no life outside of her kids. And also: Don’t be one of those moms who’s just totally wrapped up in her work. I’m pretty sure I’m not either of those, I said. Striking a balance is practice. I think she agreed, in a tweeny kind of way.

Mani’s pain in her feet has been intense and nearly round the clock. We’re doing everything we can to address it, though sometimes I feel a burden of what if I’m not doing enough. Last night we had a shared moment of: Ok. Enough already. Beyond ready for her to be pain-free and healthy again please God. And then I left for a dance party filled with family and friends and a passel of 12- and 13-year olds who give me hope for the future and who are a joy to know and watch grow. I kissed her goodbye and said I’ll be back, I’ll always come back. And she made a list of 18 good things and 18 things to look forward to.

And it’s a new day again and the sun is coming out after heavy rain that made the whole house feel like it was going to float away. I need to read Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” because I read the first two pages yesterday in the bookstore and laughed and insisted on reading four paragraphs to Aviva, and it will be a good book for us to read out loud right now. The library’s closed, so that will have to wait till tomorrow. For today, I think I’m going to put my pajamas back on and climb under the covers for a little while. Whatever else needs doing–dishes, groceries, retreat planning–can wait till tomorrow. So much can feel urgent because it is–and urgency robs me of presence when I need it most.

I’m trying not to stress about my FMLA leave ticking down; we can’t assign any kind of easy timeline on Mani’s prognosis and healing. So it’s best to not trip over the unknown and instead to stay with what’s clear: I am so lucky to be their mama, and so blessed to be her wife. People say she’s lucky to have me, and I always agree and add that she saves me in so many intangible, essential ways. Reminds me that there’s plenty of room and plenty of time. Thankfully, it’s a package deal.

In so many words, everything is going to be ok. In this moment, everything already is. We’re here, together even where we’re apart, and the love does pour in and I feel it, especially when I unplug and plug into nothing but the floor under my bare feet or the way the sheets feel tucked under my chin or Pearl’s soft, soft skin or Aviva’s hugs and texts or Mani’s eyes. Always her eyes.

To you reading this, whatever your color, whatever your life’s aches and joys, know that it brings me great comfort to write here and to hear from you and to rest in the fact that we are closer than we think.

Patti Digh, whose words will grace this space tomorrow, writes: “The shortest distance between two people is a story.” And it strikes me as so true. We need spaces to share stories. To learn each other’s names and to sear the names of those murdered by bigotry and hatred to memory, never to vanish in vain. Why does this have to be such a tall order?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Sunday’s thoughts, catch and release, and on we go.

6 thoughts on “The Shortest Distance

  1. Nina Badzin says:

    It’s amazing to me how even in this time with you’re giving so much to those physically in your life, you are still giving so much as a teacher to your many students out there now. I count myself among them. And look how much people want to help. (By the way, I sent soup– and then realized after I finalized it all that many people had chosen the same thing. I hope you froze it to eat months from now when you’re not sick of soup!!)

    Liked by 1 person


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