three short paragraphs

1. There’s a stitched up incision on my foot. A wound that feels not unbearably, sickeningly broken (like it did for weeks after my last surgery), but like a wound. It is a maybe one-and-a-half-inch incision on the inside of my left foot, and it runs alongside a two-inch incision on the top of my foot, which has already learned to scar, having last been opened four months ago yesterday. Today I stopped taking pain medication because I wanted to feel that wound. To be aware of it as I carried my son up the stairs or bent to pick up wooden magnets that had been scattered around the living room. Sometimes I think that the trauma of these past years is too intangible to understand. That it’s immaterial in a way that allows us to move as if it doesn’t exist. Staying unmedicated was the best way I had to copy Hemingway: to give my alter ego character – my Nick Adams – a spinal wound in a war where I’d only sustained leg injuries. To be accurate.

2. Tonight I was singing Bram to sleep, and I shifted back so that his body wasn’t pressed right into mine. He always falls asleep that way, his back pressed into my chest, small body curled into mine. Lately, in an effort to help him feel safe in the night when he stirs and I’m not there (and maybe lead to fewer night wakings), I’ve been easing away as he falls asleep so that his sensory experience of letting go at night doesn’t always involve such tight contact. But tonight, it was almost like he forgot I was back there at all. And so, just before falling asleep, he moved Harvey (one of two must.have loveys) from between his arms to behind him, right where I usually am. It was such a precise act of independence, the ability to simulate his mama with a stuffed bear, to provide the physical sensations he relies on himself, to comfort. I saw clearly his path to not needing to simulate me being there at all. To the pleasure of aloneness in his own bed one day. And though I was a little sad, that was small compared to how proud I felt of him. Of all of us.

3. Several friends and family members were available to me today, would have been here to talk. My mom would have been here to talk. But what I wanted most was my dad. And that was a beautiful discovery about a relationship that I had long dismissed as surface, as lacking depth because depth wouldn’t work there. This is what my dad gave me that no one else ever has, and probably ever will. No matter what was going on in his life, when he heard my voice on the phone, his voice perked up. He just got happy. And we didn’t talk about real things, not often, but we talked, and his voice loved me. He didn’t ask questions, and he didn’t push to know me, but he loved me. With his voice, he loved me. His voice wrapped me up and made me feel safe and it was sweet. He wouldn’t have wanted to talk with me about grief today. He would have just said, “hi, sweetheart,” in a way that meant: “I love you.” That’s what I lost when my dad died.


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