Today. Today I wake with intention and am as easily derailed as the little red wooden Brio train on a hastily assembled wooden track from my long-ago Mothering days. Today and yesterday I am beset with uncertainty and other adult woes, questioning step five before I even begin step one. I would say to my son “uh-oh, let’s fix it,” moving on, moving on, I would say to my daughter, “silly train,” and yet I cannot find the empathy for myself, the resilience has dissipated, ephemeral.
Today, today my husband wakes me with news of another passing, another death inside two months. My mother my brother our former patient another former patient and now his cousin, my husband’s cousin.
I occupy my morning with tasks requiring concentration without emotion. More than the news–we did not know Jane well–it is the winding invective, the utter frustration of staring in the mirror and realizing this is another day and another that I am gripped by the inability to find the words that are big enough. Not big enough to contain the whole roiling sea, nor even the lonely bird cawing past.
Who is next, what last straw laid upon me will tumble down this delicate structure? I must both conserve energy and build it up, a contradiction with no solution. My energy is sapped and renewed with talk, with faces on a zoom screen; the idea ahead of time takes my breath away and yet when I am there, I breathe easy. I dread the labor of organizing a walk outside, I yearn for the canopied protection of the cypress forest within sight of my window.
I have a list, I have goals, I have plans. I need to follow through and send my work out. Yet, it feels a step too steep today. I can’t organize myself. After five and a half years of marvelous self-directed motivation and a year of supreme adaptation to protective quarantine—100,000 words damn it—I am paralyzed by the idea of tossing a tiny pebble into an ocean and never hearing even an echo, nor see a ripple.
And there it is. I exist on the page, my work is me. Will I, like my mom, fade and fade and fade, first my sense of taste and then smell then my memory and cognition, then the blood from my veins, the breath from lungs, already taxed, then the color from skin turning me translucent? Will I, like my brother, not bear up under the weight of emotion, will the relentless rejection of this world I’ve chosen bury my hope?
The questions asked are answered, exposed in the daylight, I can easily say, “silly train.” Boop, pop the red engine back onto the track, and tomorrow hit “send” again. Keep on, keep on. Quiet the doubt.