Waking up early, well before the kids, has always been the best way to greet the day for me. Some people feel good sleeping in. Others, jumping up and hitting the elliptical with gusto or grab their Nikes and hit the pavement for a morning run. I have tried and lived through these methods, and still, music and slow alone time prove to be the best start to a day for me.
On the third day of the year, “Let The Sun Shine In” rang in from the speaker and before I knew it my body was leading me from one side of the room to the next. There was air in my lungs and my feet touch the hardwood floor evenly. Why not move? Why not let the music takeover?
With the arrival of each New Year I get a touch of melancholy. Like a fever, it heats up my body and is hard to sweat it out. I find myself on the verge of tears—not looking forward, but looking back. It’s not what I’ve done, how I’ve grown, a life through the lens of motherhood. Mostly, if I’m being honest, I get sad about my family members and friends who have gone. And it’s not so much about those I loved who were older, who reached their time. I’m missing people that should still be here, it seems. Young, or fairly young. Gone too soon.
It is very well possible that I don’t miss them so much as I miss what they could be experiencing. With me—a selfish missing, I suppose. Loss is funny. It doesn’t just go away. For some it pops up in certain times in their lives. And for me, it is always in celebratory moments, like a new year.
My own dad is no exception. Oak has his head. It’s round in the front, flat on top, and comes out significantly on the bottom. I am often reminded of him when I look at Oak. But the new year makes me miss things that never came to fruition. Our relationship was hard and painful, and even in the end, I had to patch and stitch those wounds—without him. I wish he saw the way Oak’s head resembles his, with his comical eye twitches and furrowed brow. I wish he could teach River the Spanish she so desperately wants to learn. And admitting that, even if he was here, maybe many of these things wouldn’t happen is a unique loss of its own. It’s a cyclical, multi-faceted loss, both literal and figurative.
Long ago I wrote about how those who become sensitive, or those who innately are, see the fragility of life. I experience life this way. Every moment feels like I could just hold it in my palms. I don’t boast about being present because it’s fragility* that makes me so. Every moment to me is like a slow quiet picture, and though I don’t remember each one, I remember they way I felt. Feeling is the cornerstone.
On New Year’s Eve, when the kids were fast asleep, and Peter and I were settling in, I ran out for spinach gnocchi and beet salad. The neighborhood was dark and quiet, save for Christmas lights still adorning the towering mansions, illuminating my steps. I wore native printed drop-crotch pants and a white t-shirt with a black bubble coat and penguin boots. I’ll always remember the way the air felt as it blew through my pants. The way the cold concrete felt as it seeped through a undiscovered hole in my sole. I’ll remember the way it felt so good to see a couple walk into Roman’s and weed through the red balloon strings and hug a friend with the grandest smile. I wanted to press my face on the cold glass and just watch. I remember that, at that stoplight, I stood a few steps back waiting for the white walking man to signal “walk”; and even though the road was desolate and it felt as if I was the only one, how I hesitated crossing the street. Before I realized, I looked both ways and broke my own New York rule. In that moment I realized that’s the way I want to see 2017. Sometimes it won’t say walk, but the road is wide and it’s okay to cross. Life is fragile, and hell, there could always be a car, but you walk. You see the fragility, you acknowledge it, you live through it, letting the wind blow through your drop-crotch pants, and you get moving. You don’t wait.
And so, this year, I want to greet each day with arms wide open, with the widest gap-toothed grin, and a heart soft to mistakes and triumphs and inevitable loss, with as much grace as I can muster. I want to let my light shine and allow the lights of others, friends and strangers alike, to comfort my soul.
Happy New Year!
Thank you. I really needed this today. I lost my mother to cancer just a few days ago, on New Year's eve. Besides the obvious grief, I'm taken aback by how vulnerable, exposed and – yes – fragile the experience has made my normally thick-skinned self. And while I would give anything to have my mother back, I think there is a real gift in my new way of seeing the world. I hope that when the sharpness of my grief fades, I can keep a hold of my new-found fragility.
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Kathry, I'm so very very sorry about your mother. I can't even imagine. My best friend recommended I read The Year Of Magical Thinking when we discussed this topic not to long ago. Such a difficult and painful read when the time is right. Sending you love.
wow, what a powerful read. This truly hit home for me today, as I too lost my mother far too soon (our relationship was hard and very painful as well.) This past holiday season left me extremely melancholy, emotionally dismantled and raw. Thank you for these words. All the best to you this year, so excited to follow along via this platform. Hugs
Thanks for your kind words and book recommendation. I'll be sure to check it out.
You write about tactile sensations so, so well.