Important choices and heavy-sounding words (Custody. Parenting time. But you said. No, you did. What’s best. What’s best?) sit in front of me like paperweights holding down the loose paper scraps of what was, what is, what will be. There are things to do, always. And, always, things to decide.
I am one thing right now: a mother. The other parts of me are books on shelves, ordered, quiet. I walk past sometimes and run my hand over their spines. Whisper, soon. Without sadness, though. This is how it has to be for now, this focus.
I weigh things, all the time. If this, then that. If that, then what? The back of my head, where doubt lives, is a noisy, noisy place. The bird outside my window calls out and I hear what to do? what do do?
There’s no footworn path. No You Are Here red arrow. There is only before, and now, and next. No moment that feels closer to the end than the beginning. Just each moment that is what it is.
Just this bit of ground under my feet that could be any random point between two vanishing horizons, but seems meant, somehow, for making a stand.
We’ll be all right. I know that. Worse things have happened to people. This crumpled page of life, well, I’ll spread it out and smooth it the best I can. I’ll make sense of whatever is written on it, however smudged, whether it turns out to be a lesson or a cosmic joke or a song or a map. And we’ll go on.
There are good things, there are. Cherry blossoms. Cut grass. Eight year old girls having front-lawn picnics. Evenings outside. An owl in the woods behind the house, calling.
The hope for a life that’s simpler, but that’s always been there. It just feels closer. I’m at the other end of the tunnel, at that moment when it’s still dark but you see that the world will get big again.
For now, I don’t sleep. Not the satisfying, restful kind, anyway – only as much as my body insists on when, at last, my mind shuts down. More than not, sleep is just the scratch of a branch against the window. A ghost across the room.
Then, morning and a light that is both truth and lie, morning song and demand, apology and forgiveness.
The days are a cold, fluid stream. Most days, I feel like the water that takes forever to polish and groove the rocks that lie beneath the surface, the changes so slow as to be almost imperceptible. And other days, the best days, I become one of the rocks that alters the course of the stream. That’s what I have to be, from here.
The rest can wait. Things will happen. Choices will lead to conclusions. Life will go on. And someday, I’ll take each of those books off of the shelf, brush away the dust, open its pages.
And I’ll whisper, Now.