I sit down at my desk. On the desk is a lamp with a dangly silver chain that looks like every other lamp with a dangly silver chain sold at Target. The desk is painted white and beginning to wear at the edges where my hands rest each time I sit down to type. These days, it's far more work than write.
My son, just shy of 12-years-old, now chooses to hang out in his room instead of mine. It's one of those changes that happened so quietly that I barely noticed until the day I did. Now it's all I ever notice - the way things are not the same. The way things will never be the same.
I take a sip of tea. The elixir warms my innards the way sun warms a flower. I shift in my chair, stretch my arms to the sky, try to shake off the temporary-ness of it all.
Above the lamp are four frames, each containing a section of my favorite poem. Wild Geese, it's called. I read it again, likely for the 50th or so time. It slays me still just as much as the first.
"You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."
Speaking of soft animals - next to me is a dog. He sits by his favorite window so he can watch for passersby. It's dark outside and he's so furry he can barely see through his hair. I imagine the stories his gentle eyes would tell if they could talk, how he would share his own pain of being alone every day and pure desire to just feel loved. I scoop him up and squeeze him tightly, whisper I love you so much into his left ear. He keeps trying to smell the coconut lip balm I just put on. We talk about what a good boy he is and I release him from my grasp. He chews a bone.
Under the frames are shelves with knick-knacks which is strange now that I think of it, because I'm not much at all a fan of knick-knacks. Visual clutter clutters my mind. Each of them means something though, holds a space within me from a time and place where things were more than things.
"Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine."
The clock on my computer reads 9:20 p.m. It's January 9th which reminds me - we are almost at the 5-year anniversary of my father's death - arguably the most gruesome experience of my life. He died quite peacefully, actually. It's me that didn't go down as smoothly. I bled a lot after my heart exploded. It was messy and complicated. Some days, it still is.
I wonder if my father repented of anything as he was dying.
I know his body is gone. I watched them bury him on the coldest day I'd ever felt in January. I didn't know the part where they lower the dead into the earth is actually a lot like birth - so intimate you really should look away. It's weird how easily I can still hear him laughing.
"Meanwhile, the world goes on. Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again."
My son pokes his head in, says "I want a dirt bike. It should be just like riding a bike, but going extremely fast."
The fact he believes this argument would squelch my concerns makes me chuckle. "I don't know, I've never driven one, but you might imagine that's true." I reply. I love that he still dreams of what could be.
He returns to his room. I feel the void in my womb.
On the shelf is a crystal butterfly given to me by my grandmother. Did you know that butterflies are cold-blooded? They bask in the sun to warm their muscles for flight. I envy how confident they are in their fragile beauty.
Speaking of fragile beauty - I used to kill fireflies as a young girl. I'd catch one in my hand, use my nail to remove its light, then put it on my finger to pretend it was a diamond. I remember holding out my hand like a newly-engaged woman, tilting it in just a way that the shiny speck slightly appeared as a glimmer of hope. I would never do that now.
The walls in my room are a calming hue of blue. They remind me of a late September sky. I imagine sinking in to them like a bird, allowing the breeze - instead of fear - to ruffle my feathers. I'd fly in search of water and dip my body in a pool of contentment. I would belong.
"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things."
My son's eyes are a similar blue. I get caught in them sometimes, when moments of innocence make it all make sense. He comes to say goodnight. He takes the dog and sits him on my bed, rubs his belly. We pray for God to watch over him as he sleeps. I kiss my son on the forehead, whisper I love you so much and, this time, soak in the temporary-ness of it all.