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The Best and The Worst

So I just checked and it appears 2016 is almost over. For real. Thus begins the predictable deluge of The Best and The Worst. Resolutions will be made and broken. (Seriously, I am quitting eating. I’m done. I will survive on anxiety alone. Which has me thinking, if anxiety were a flavor, what would it taste like? I’m leaning towards Martini olives but could be persuaded by rhubarb.) I digress. As midnight hauntingly sings 2016 farewell, all us still left alive will have the opportunity to embrace a new beginning. Every year I happily welcome this tradition. This year I am grabbing it by the balls and yanking it in the door. Brace yourself 2017, I am not messing around anymore. 

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2016 changed me. And not the shiny kind of I Only Eat Kale Now change. If there were an emoji to represent profound loss I’d use it, but the cute yellow face with ridiculous streaming tears doesn’t cut it. This year I learned that crying is ugly. I’m talking face contortions, gushing snot and loud snorting. That’s crying. I thought 2016 turned sour when David Bowie died. Ha. I was just a crazy kid back then. Still, I paid tribute as meaningfully as I could. I slicked back my hair and danced and drank with fabulous friends -spitting out the lyrics to Five Years as if it were truly “all we got.” Then I hit repeat with Prince. And Leonard Cohen. A trifecta of nostalgic rebellion. And now Carrie Fisher adds to the list of idols from my youth, now dead. But in truth the famous who touch our lives are strangers, we mourn them with yearning.

And I’m not even getting into politics, because, you know.

This year I entered through a series of doors that led me to a darker back room. I didn’t realize how alone I could feel until the door of that last room slammed shut. It’s suffocating. More than once I found myself heaving on the ground, like I’d been spat out by my human form and become something alien, no longer able to breath oxygen. Or walk. Just a heap of pain and anxiety. Hint of rhubarb.

One moment I had a father. The next I didn’t. And that was my Worst moment of 2016. Also my life. My dad was my person. The pretty park ranger with the brutal task of informing a daughter and grandson they had lost their dad and grandpa only had to say two words – “he didn’t…” That was enough for my world to cave in as I nodded my head.   We said goodbye and I rolled up the car window. I clutched the steering wheel. I drank water. I breathed in and out. I drove. I stopped for gas. I pulled out my credit card to pay. I listened to the GPS and did what it told me to do. I turned left. I drove farther. I breathed some more. Those were the hardest tasks of my life. My son kept asking, “you OK Ma?” “Nope,” I’d respond, and we’d laugh a little. Those tiny exchanges saved me.

The most surreal fact has been that everything just continues as it always has. I am in the world, each day, my hands wash the dishes, hug my son, hold my husband, cook and teach and create. I brush my hair. I dream and I wake and watch the light through the trees. I splash water on my face, smell the peppermint soap. I slurp my coffee loudly. I open a new book with excitement. My son and husband make me laugh. I drive to the store and back. I love my Dad. Just as always. I gaze into my hands and traces of him are there, along with all my ancestors. Like a secret map, leading…to some ancient beginning of who I am as this moment continues. As I sit here writing these words in the blue velvet chair my Dad loved and his Dad loved and well, now I love, and my son and husband love too.

And that is how it will always be, until I die. And then I’ll be a line in my son’s hand. But for now, I hold his hand when he’ll still let me. Because he’s getting older you know. And so am I. And you too.

And all these small moments – all the ones that are not The Worst. All the moments that do not punch you in the gut and knock the breath out of you. Those moments? They are ALL The Best. They are Living. They are LIFE. The opposite of death. They save us.

Happy New Year to All!

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Cue Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.


© Laura P. Reid 2018