Ok Friends, I had a lot of trepidation about posting this one. It just seems so…hmmm…dramatic? I’ve just been in a funk, you know? But in the interest of living up to my goal of posting once a week, here it is.
Some day when James is older, I will tell him how when he was being a fussy little bean, we would call him a wiener.
“Stop being such a wiener, James!” we’ll say. Or “We should have named you James Wiener England.” I know, I know: We’re the worst.
But really, the other day, James was being a wiener. He was up at 5. He spit out his food at breakfast. He was cranky. Etc.
Dan and I were getting to the end of our respective ropes. I had planned to make an involved dinner but the thought of spending an hour in the kitchen made me want turn to stone.
Vietnamese? I begged of Dan (and believe me, when it comes to Vietnamese, Dan does not need much convincing).
Our neighbourhood joint is closed, so I thought I would drive to what I call “the good place” because it the best fucking Vietnamese I have ever tasted in my LIFE.
The 30 minute drive would give me a 30 minute break + a hassle free dinner. Win – win.
So on my way, I turned on Radiolab – an episode entitled “Cathedral“. It’s about a man who creates a video game–That Dragon, Cancer–based on his experience having a son with terminal cancer. The idea comes to him after he spends the night at the hospital with his son – who, dehydrated, cries and cries and wails and nothing the father does consoles the poor little boy. Finally, the dad prays. And the baby stops crying.
The dad says it felt to him like this game – where you think you are in control, but you’re not.
You have no control.
Of course, I wept all the way home with our delicious Vietnamese sitting on the car floor next to me. And wrapped James up in my arms as soon as I got home.
But I have to admit I’ve felt haunted for weeks now by these truths: how little control we have over things. (Like no matter how much I love James or do my best to do right by him, I can’t make his life perfect or protect him forever.) The inevitability of death. Why? Why are these things I’ve always known suddenly like two heavy weights on my shoulders that I just can’t shake?
On Monday I felt so down that I made a list of the things I need more of in my life. I wrote down exercise. And girl time. On Tuesday I went to a spin class with a new girlfriend and almost passed out on that stupid bike, but I went goddamn it.
Then David Bowie and Alan Rickman died this week.
I thought about the art that comes from grief. Kirsty Mitchell’s Wonderland. The videogame.
I thought about how our local Vietnamese place is closed because the owner’s mother-in-law is very old and sick. The owner is ALWAYS at the restaurant. He told Dan this will be his first vacation in eight years. And it is to go back to Vietnam to see his mother-in-law before she dies.
And I read this article in the NY Times about how contemplating your demise can actually make you happier – because you think about how you gotta make it count.
And yeah: What beautiful thing would I make if I knew the end was near? (And why aren’t I making it now?)
I also thought about Inside Out – and how the emotion Joy suddenly realizes the importance of Sadness. And how it’s possible that Joy and Sadness can exist in the space…and make an experience more important.
This week, I keep having this vision of lighting one of those floating candles and sending it down a river. Or one of those lanterns you send up to the sky. I see and I think: there it is. Now, let it go.