Monday, December 29th, 2008 • 4 Comments on Contemplative
I told a writer friend that I’ve been feeling contemplative. She asked what I was contemplating. Life, I suppose. The end of a year always brings contemplation for me. Looking back before I look forward, making the lists, noting the accomplishments, reliving the failures, wondering… what next?
The older I get, the more it seems I have to contemplate. Jay’s granny—my dear friend and one of the finest writers I’ve ever known—had a stroke nearly a year ago. She survived the stroke, but she is in her own world now. We used to write letters to each other—real letters, a rarity anymore. I cherish those letters. I would smile every time I saw her graceful handwriting on an envelope. In her 80s and with such a sharp memory—and wit—and her words like poetry. I miss those letters more than I can express. Julia is still alive, but she is lost to me. Her words are gone. The last letter I received from her was around this time last year. She spoke of the coming new year, having no idea that she would have a stroke just a few days into January, and she wrote that she had much to think on. I consider that phrase even as I’m contemplating all that I have to think on. I’d give a lot to have one more letter from her telling me what she’s thinking on.
As for me, I contemplate a pregnancy test on the bathroom counter every time I brush my teeth or dry my hair. Two pink lines = positive = pregnancy, yet I’m not pregnant. That’s something to contemplate. That test has been on the counter for five months. I dust it off once in awhile, study the lines, put it back down. I was pregnant for seven weeks. Something of a miracle, given that I’m 41, not on fertility drugs and was only trying to get pregnant for two months before a 3-day weekend trip to Florida (the only 3 days I saw Jay in six months) got me that way. There’s a little sadness when I see that test—is it the last time I’ll see those two lines? One last glimmer of what might have been? But there’s hope, too—it happened, it was real. For a time. It could happen again and turn out well, right? I’m not sure how long the test will stay on the bathroom counter. Maybe until the question is answered.
Up until last year, I unplugged the toaster after using it. Jay asked me why I unplugged the toaster and I told him it was for Orville. He just said, “Oh.” My blind kitty Orville had a bad habit of jumping on the counter and, because he couldn’t see, he would walk as close to the wall as possible to keep from falling off the counter. Sometimes, he would step on the toaster bar and start it. To prevent a fire—or Orville burning himself—I would unplug it. Of course, Orville died in 2003 and I was still unplugging the toaster in 2007. It takes me a long time to get over things. Some things, I never get over. Not everyone understands that about me.
I hadn’t seen my mother since 1992 and had been estranged from her since 1997, but it wasn’t until last year when I turned forty that I could even begin to contemplate writing about the reasons why. Fifteen years of distance, ten years of complete silence before I could open that door. Then—just as I was finally able to write about her—she died and though I hadn’t seen her in fifteen years, I slammed the door again. Maybe someday I’ll open that file and begin to write about it again, but it’s hard enough contemplating the loss of someone who was lost long ago without trying to write about it. It may never be possible.
Doors close, new ones open. People leave and other people appear. Hope blossoms on a plastic stick. Hope is lost in a river of blood. Wounds heal, old wounds are reopened. Relationships fade, memories sometimes don’t. That’s life. And death. And stroke. And miscarriage.
So, I contemplate. And I wonder…