Saturday, March 3, 2012


There's a little crack of light along the horizon when I walk to the train in the mornings now and a mist of promise and intention clinging to the treetops. Each cool breeze has a hint of warmth at the back.

Spring is here. And just in time too. T's been down for the count with pneumonia and pleurisy for a couple of weeks. For an otherwise healthy 40-year-old man, pneumonia probably isn't something to get overly worried about but, I'm afraid I'll never be able to take a visit to the hospital lightly again. As I waited to hear the verdict on his chest x-rays and CT scans and a bone scan for a closer look at an area of increased bone density on his ribs I learned that I was wrong about something. Seems I haven't lost all of my ability to expect after all--I am still completely capable of expecting the worst.

Fortunately it looks like he's on his way to a full recovery and spring is coming.

Every year, just when I grow itchy with thoughts of hopelessness and tired of listening to my family eat soup, comes relief. The days grow longer and I resolve to stop plotting my escape from misery and slurping.

I feel anxious in spite of my four-and-a-half year old resolution not to get ahead of myself.

From here spring seems like the most unbelievable thing. Death and rebirth and it happens every single year. Incredible.

We should all be gawking in wonder at the annual miracle but we're still about our business. Even those of us who seemingly have more cause for wonder.

Circumstance dictates that I plod, one shovelful at a time, in a state of constant under-wonder until all of my piles have been dealt with. Laundry, meetings, errands, laundry. "Look up," says my inner optimist, "Look up and see the daffodils blooming." I look up from a sinkful of dishes and see a drainage problem in my back yard. And I remember to worry about what spring will mean for the overgrown shrub that's pushing against the power lines along the side of our house.

I don't plod because I lack the imagination to wonder. I plod because, if I think about any of it for too long, I'll exceed the limits of my envelope. The everything that my daughters showed me will expand to its full size and I'll come apart at my hinges. As I float away into the ether, the laundry basket will slip right through the spaces between my particles and T and C will be forced to wear dirty underwear for all eternity.

I want to lie facedown on the grass as it comes back to life. Sink my fingers down through the thatch, into the soil and let it ooze through the tiny space between nail and finger. Push my nose beneath the greening clover and inhale until spring has been applied directly to my brain and I've learned the trick of it.


I wonder if C knows the trick.

Part of me thinks that I could drop her off in the woods and her fairy kin would come and claim her or that should stop forcing her to eat vegetables wrap her in gold cloth and flower garlands and build a shrine around her instead.

My logical brain reminds me that we've all had our near misses with wool socks on wooden stairs and daydreaming in traffic. Her 'almost' was closely observed and exhaustively documented but that doesn't make her survival any more unexpected than anyone else's.

And there's the other side of this thought too. If C is touched with magic, what's left for R? Was she less than magic or did some other kind of dark magic require a trade to keep C alive?

I try to tell myself that there's probably no trick to it at all. It's only a limited rebirth, after all.The lawn mowers will bring an end to this line of magical thought and remind me of the truth. All of these big doings, whether animal or vegetable, are stored inside vessels that are totally inadequate for the task. And when it's over, it's over.

Despite the plodding, I can never quite make it stick.

Last spring C and I took a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the weather. As we approached our houe, the giant Linden tree at the end of the block flung its fruits at her. A cloud of potential in the guise of electric green bracts swirled around her tiny body as her hair floated up and she spun and giggled.

The hardworking, yardworking neighbors paused over their rakes and pruning shears to watch. "My tree just said hi to you, little girl," said the owner of the tree.

Angie's Bea says that dead sisters go into the trees. C says that they fly.

Spring is coming and I say, "Maybe."


  1. *sigh* this is so beautiful. This made me want to write and think. Thank you. I hope T. is feeling better. Seems like the weather is kind of good enough to go camping? Or am I high?

    1. I don't know if you're high. I'm guessing not but, I think you might be right about the weather regardless. T has to go for a follow-up next week and then we'll find out if he's cleared for fun stuff like camping with the Yingts (!!!)

  2. The everything that my daughters showed me will expand to its full size and I'll come apart at my hinges.


    T's body invaded, the rest of you forced to endure all that means (and no one tells you how much that means)

    I feel sick. Sicker.

    Yesterday I told my husband I must be more American than I want. Apparently, I have this "off-switch" mentality, which even though I hate it, screams first-world entitlement??

    When someone gets hit, again, after they've already been hit *more* than too much, the anger surges. I'm rattling a Window to take my complaint. That's Enough. More Than Enough. STOP IT.

    Meanwhile, I keep praying the everything will keep expanding, finally, and gulp me down.

    I would like to send R. back. If such arrangements can be made - I suspect not - I will.

    Spring, come on. T, get well and truly better. All better.

    Cathy in Missouri

    1. I think we're lucky this time. For once, it appears that this is just a run-of-the-mill illness.

      I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling sicker and I'm sending positive, healing, coping energy to Missouri for you, friend.

      As for those arrangements--hopefully it's a long way off but, I appreciate the offer all the same.

  3. I'm sorry to hear about T. I had pleurisy (without pneumonia) many years ago and it was no fun at all. I would have been frightened too, I always expect to hear bad news at the hospital now.

    And you've hit on a word I've been searching for probably the best part of twenty years. Under-wonder. And yes, it is partly (and particularly lately) a repression of wonder. Because if I think too much, my head will come off. Leaving my family to deal with dirty underwear forever more. Although I like to think that my C (Snr) would eventually learn how to work the washing machine.

    I often suspect that J knows something that I don't. I do dwell on her 'almost' probably more than is healthy. But she has hung around in places that I can't even begin to imagine. There is something magical about our girls, I'm certain of it sometimes. All four of them.

    But I don't know. Perhaps there simply wasn't enough luck for all of them? I often do wonder if there was some sort of bargaining or sharing out, like something from a fairy tale.

    And sometimes, in spring, I think Bea is right. I think C is right. They do go into trees. They do fly. Just maybe.

    1. This just rocks. The feeling of hope that spring brings - I intermittently love it and mistrust it. I think I'm still waiting to slip and fall in a puddle as I'm looking up admiring the sky.

      Get well soon to T. Man, a double dose of sick topped with a hospital visit. I bet it feels good to exhale after that one.

      I love this imagery:

      Angie's Bea says that dead sisters go into the trees. C says that they fly.

  4. @ Catherine W - I think I mostly feel like the whole experience was influenced by some sort of magic that touched both of my daughters, me, and my whole family. And then, it reached all the way across the ocean and linked all four of our daughters together. Such a strange thing that I never could have imagined.

    @m - I think I'm feeling more hopeful than I have in a while this spring :)