Now and then, I feel intensely the fragility of life, how precarious our arrangements of friends and family and work and play. I walk through my house and everything is absolutely familiar – the angle of rug to couch, couch to window, window to fence line; the trail of paw prints tracking rain across bare wood floors; the patterns of sound – first everyone home, and then only me, and then everyone home again.
A friend calls. She tells me of another friend’s divorce and in the pause before I answer, I hear the questions she wrestles with every day. Her own marriage hasn’t been happy for a long time. I exchange emails with a beautiful man who struggles to feed his heart and soul as his body betrays him, organ by precious organ. Someone dear has lost her mom. Someone’s father has had a stroke. I read a lovely, wrenching essay about the friendship of women and a mother helping her son to die, and I think…
This is when love hurts.
This is when love feels too big, too unwieldy to be let loose amidst all the fragile, breakable things that make up a life. It is clumsy and oafish when what is called for is grace; discordant or mute when what is needed is poetry. I want to rearrange everyone’s life, put each one back to the way it was when it made sense, when the pain was so very bearable (though we didn’t know that at the time). And I want to hold absolutely still in my own life, surrounded by the furniture just so, the windows, the paw prints, the familiar noises, the familiar silences. I want to hold still so that nothing shifts. Nothing slips away, or breaks open, or dies.
This is when love is hard because it is enormous and frightening. It can break you apart or save you, and I think it often does both at the same time. It’s hard for the people in pain, daring to reach out to me, and it’s hard for me, reaching back, willingly losing my balance, my momentary, grasping stillness. Truthfully, I have no choice. Love is like that too, it overrules and overrides, fills suddenly this precious moment when I’m alone, my fingers tapping out word after word after word, dogs at my feet, rain against the window.
I pause between that last paragraph and this one to read a text from my son on a film shoot in LA. He writes, “Ha, I just have to tell you about this…” and he has no idea how his words make me tear up, how a text that starts out like that would make me feel so lucky, so clumsy and broken and saved.
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I’ve been reading a poem every day of 2012. This one, about love, has been swimming through my veins since I read it.
The lovely Estrella Azul sent me this.