"on the last day of the world,i would want to plant a tree."
- w.s. merwin
i have a serious case of the heavies. there are so many ways to say it, to feel it, to give it shape and form, to trace its origins. my mom always said i was so intense, she didn't know what to do with me sometimes, the way i felt the world as a weight, the way it made me fly and broke my heart. as a toddler, i would sometimes clench every bit of my tiny body in a tremble. it was funny, but they worried. i also had the biggest smile for the people of my world; it took every muscle of my face to make it. my little boy has inherited the storm, and i meet it with thirty six years of learned, studied peace and unraveling. oh, the way the light looks next to the shadows - i find myself in that sliver where they meet, cutting through, opening me up, where grey is black and white, at once. there is so much broken, shattered and cracked and pieced together with hope, lost and falling away. i expect this, from within and without. i know how to reach to the very tips of my toes, to open up every vertebrae, to draw myself up, fix my stare, and look it all straight in the eye.
we are our toughest days as much as our best ones. it should be allowed. every sentence does not end with an exclamation mark. some trail off. some are swallowed down into the dark. no one is alone in that, nor are we putting a damper on life with that truth. so this is why i am typing this, and why maybe, someone is reading. because there were too many words living inside me, with only roots, waiting for water and light. i was the person who told you what you needed to hear, who smiled on the outside while my lips shook, who stopped and started in rattling jolts, who willed myself downstairs at twelve, at eighteen, at thirty, to conquer something that should never have felt like a battle. i know what the worst day feels like. i have had many. we all have them folded into our stories, or out on the horizon. but the worst, and most alive get mixed and shaken up together. when we add love, there is a fighting chance. we can survive. i have come to see all the shades of myself. i have come to know, intimately, the real things to fear. i live with the dark, i sleep under its curtain, i hold on, we hold hands, we dance it away if we are so lucky. and in that dancing i have found the kind of joy that spills over as tears down my face. my husband, my friends, they would all tell me that's a rather serious way to put it. but i take my joy seriously too.
this week, my son turned three, i turned thirty six, we lost a dear family friend. the world made that silent cry - its beauty, our powerlessness, swimming through the waves together, peaks and valleys that rock us. that mix of what we can never expect, and what we know we can face. every year on my baby's birthday, i have to face my own. so in this thousandth way, he sets me free, as i try with no luck to remember who i was before him. and i run my fingers through the summer sea of his hair and remember i do not have to. it is as easy as telling the truth. the night of my birthday, i lay awake in a cocoon of white sheets and four feet rubbing themselves to sleep, like tiny wings making a night song, my own reaching for their lullaby. i do not have to tell myself to remember these things anymore. this kind of awake is part of the bones i have made myself, in all the hurting, growing them, being a shepherd, an audience, a sun, a moon. in the most still times, there is a buzz under my skin. fear and love in one swift current. and in the wildest, i am still, in the longest second, stretching out through time. the beginning of love is a circle, and i am forever dizzy. i will always be afraid of the other shoe dropping. but as my wise dad always tells me, "there are an infinite number of shoes." may they fall gently. may i learn to let them go.