Monday, March 30, 2009

there is a season

I've reached the point in my novel where I have to very, very quiet in order to hear the heartbeats of my characters. Discern the strength of pulse, of intent, of sorrow and redemption.

Ideally, this is when I'd go hide out in a hole somewhere and banish all manner of monkey mind from my day.

Instead, I'm doing what I typically do on Monday mornings: making a list, attending to the queue of inbox tasks that I envision are starting to grow microscopic flora. Mondays are always "too much with me," and I think it has something to do with locating myself in the world.

This is a particularly onerous Monday because it is the Monday after Spring Holiday. Can you see the circles under my little boy's eyes? He spent the week with his father, sick and in bed. Came home with a rattly cough and diminished energy, but his usual strong will to go to school today (he can't stand the thought of being out of the loop--what a Type A!); and there's his older brother, Sam--my first baby. Spring break for a college boy is all about beer, video games, laundry and, in the case of my son, voicing all the things he's going to do when he wins the lottery.

Yesterday was quite fun though. Sam, Carson and I played miniature golf in one of those blacklight basement venues that are cropping up. Sam, who takes all games seriously, kept the scorecard, announcing at each hole how much over or under par he was. I loved how we matched pace-wise: we're efficient when it comes to putt-putt, taking our turns in the middle of each other's turn, leap-frogging over slower families. None of us cares to dilly-dally.

Next on the list was a trip to Home Depot for a dehumidifier for Sam's soggy basement apartment, and then a stock-up trip to the Japanese market for staples. Sam is an aficionado of Asian cuisine, and he trotted me around to the various shaker spices for sushi rice, a particular type of Nori that he likes, and a quest for fresh uni. We rounded out the chores with the acquisition of more duct tape to hold Sam's headlights in place.

In other news, my mother-in-law continues to fade. All the Soules were up for another good-bye session round the bedside. Dorothy is in her final furlong, offering gaspy witness to a collapsing temporal reality: her parents, her children, her childhood, her wishes for the near future. "I love you," she whispers. Then: "I want to go home."

We're entering the second month of hospice, and Kirk and his sister are taking turns spending the night with her in her assisted living apartment, the oxygen machine as metronome in the background, its bellows like the blow hole of a whale. It's peaceful, scary, large and human: all of those things and many more. Her imminent death greets us every morning, and each of her children must go through the dance of letting go anew. The exhaustion of that is taking its toll on some more than others. As she shrinks from us, both physically and psychically, we are reminded of the miracle of the body: the tenacity of will and spirit. Myself, I think she has another week in her. She'll hold on until the month of her birth, which is fitting.

So, today is Monday. The holiday week is over. The kids are back in school. My checklist is moderate, and my heart and mind are open to the next thing. I'm trying to purge the jangly sounds in order to hear the voices of my other family: the Messmeirs, and for that, I may need to walk in the woods.

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