This is not a funny one
2011 has been a difficult year for us and our extended family. Loss, diminishment, permanent change.
My elegant grandma Sue passed away in February at 93. My proud stepdad Guido passed away in Sept at 87. Both suffered the labor of dying for extended periods of time.
My delicate, sister-in-law has heroically undergone several surgeries to hopefully reclaim her health and my father-in-law is struggling with his health as well. It all feels unfair and wrong. Why do good people have to suffer? It’s made us all a little fragile and kind of nuts.
Then we had a scare with Bridget.
Last night I made the mistake of showing Clare and Bridget the movie The Help. My goal? Chick-flick bonding, history learning, social consciousness raising.
I forgot some key scenes that really upset my kids. (That little business with the miscarriage and some pesky police brutality – there were no batons, okay?!). When Abeline is fired by her white boss and has to say goodbye to the little girl she cares for forever, Clare glared at me and yelled, “What were you thinking mommy? Are you insane?”
To corroborate Clare’s outrage Bridget shrieked and flung herself straight down on the couch.
Miscalculating her body length she whacked her head on the wood armrest. It sounded like the crack of a baseball hitting a bat. My first thought was … Natasha Richardson.
Head injury she ignored, dead shortly thereafter. I’m nothing if not an Irish dirge.
Paramedics were called because Bridget had what looked like a purple tennis ball on her forehead and I didn’t know if she would make it to the ER.
(But now that Bridget is “just fine” I can take the tiniest pleasure in remembering how lovely and tall the firemen were)
In any case, life can be cruelly whimsical. But we got lucky she didn’t damage her spine or have a concussion. People are strong, but life is indifferent. You can only hope your luck holds.
That knowledge, coupled with some digging around in old memorabilia has reminded me, yet again, that our lives are made up of the moments we have right in front of us.
And as often as possible we should grab them. I found a note from 1986 I wrote about a moment in my childhood:
“Simon and Garfunkle are singing ‘I only have eyes for you…’ real soft, real slow, water slapping against the hull of the boat.
“I’m nine-years old, already a romantic, stuffed in a slippery smooth sleeping bag in a bunk in the salon, listening to the water, peering though the blackness, lulled to sleep.
“It’s a moment I know I’ll always remember. I feel it, savor it, know I’m experiencing it.
“I’ll only be a nine-year old girl in a bunk on a boat called The Allegro this night on the Delta in Antioch, California once.
“Tomorrow I’ll be someone else – somehow changed, just a little different, this night, these sounds and feelings … a memory of yesterday’s girl.”
My prognosis was correct.
I can close my eyes and still see, feel, hear and taste that memory like it happened yesterday. The ocean swell is stored on a cellular level, the gentle rocking of the boat in its slip, the silky feel on my feet of the sleeping bag.
Last night I held an ice pack to Bridget’s head, waiting for the paramedics, peering into her face for signs of the brain trauma which would never come.
I noticed her eyes were a deep, blueberry blue surrounded by a black, curly thicket of lashes, her pale nose and round cheeks were smattered with innumerable auburn freckles.
I took responsibility for her injury since I let her watch that debacle The Help which was too grown up for her. “No mommy” she said, “it wasn’t your fault. And I don’t want you to think it’s your fault, but you feel guilty because that’s just what moms do.”
Oh sweet, generous 7-year old girl.
I take her in, savor her, know I’m experiencing her. She’ll only be a 7-year old girl with a bump on her forehead forgiving her mother once. Tomorrow she’ll be someone else, just a little different. I cherish the moment.
I must quote one line from The Help (I still love that freakin’ movie) “Every day we’re living is a miracle” …with a myriad of moments to notice and keep.
I’d love to hear yours.