On the anniversary of my father’s birthday at 2:26 am I remember my list: insurance stuff, garage and car clean up, bathrooms of course and something else I am forgetting, the way you would and could forget an ordinary item so unlike the cream colored cowboy hat I looked all over town for

It has to be the biggest size, he said, to cover up the (fatal) head injury.

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The rock star, exposed soul and pecs with a rousing speech in front of thousands supporting tolerance (always good, right?) by announcing that anyone should be able to love who they want to love.

Oh. Really?

And then within a week I saw a piece in NYT’s Modern Love section devoted to the musings of a woman who had, apparently learned stuff from sleeping with married men.

Good thing people can “love who they want to love,” right?

In both situations it seems like the easiest way to strike a balance between my dismay and anger at the public aggrandizement of poorly lit behavior and my own private belief is to focus on that one, badly abused, word-

Love used to mean something. It used to be anchored to some pretty badass acts of self-sacrifice, public service, private solace, intimate compassion.

By co-opting a word of profound philosophical and etymological roots to stand in for other things, some of them very unlovely, transgressive, even illegal, we stand on the brink of meaningless cultural narcissism.

All while we insist on calling it

Love.

Dearest E,

I know you struggle with the see-saw conflict between knowing I love and see you and being a messy, sin-riddled person.

My love is manifest in my ability to save you through years of squalor.

Make that mystery what you focus on, a train-your-eyes-to-focus exercise.

Focus on my voice, character, ability to be who you need in all things.

Me the remedy

Friend

Listener

Shepherd-Doctor-Advocate

And don’t forget what I told you about losing things, the freedom of truth, narrow paths and where they lead.

All the big and small ways

I show you

I love you.

J.

I started this blog a few years ago when I was trying to tell and grieve-through a pretty ugly and unhappy-ending story.

Somewhere(s) along the line I began to question whether any of it would do any good. Were the words like trees falling without listeners?

I once read about one of many really awful and probably unnecessary studies. Rats were dropped into buckets then fished out after a few minutes. Others were left to drown. The rats who had been fished out could keep swimming for much longer than those who had never been “rescued.”

I have to assume this was supposed to be a study of hope? It seems to be more about the human capacity to willfully ignore suffering.

But I digress.

Times I have empathized with the bedraggled bucket rats.

But words do matter.

Your voice is heard.

So keep singing.

And if you can’t sing-whisper…

Cry, shout, or stomp.

Recently I heard a story about a man who is a few years younger than me (50) lamenting the evanescence of youth.

I laughed to myself because

A. He ain’t getting any younger, better enjoy those youthful mid-40s while he can

B. I don’t want to go back. I was pretty in my youth but also naive and inefficient. I did not have the power and wisdom wrought by both grief and love, grief caused by love.

C. I love a comfortable t-shirt. Truthfully, if I could I would wear pajamas all the time…because they are soooo comfortable. I have recently adopted this attitude to my body. It has been good to me. It is soft, just like my favorite T-shirt, because it has been worn and washed and worn and washed. Soft with age. Faded. Maybe a bit too roomy, but oh, so comforting.

Recently my beautiful daughter and I were sitting on a bench in a city we do not live in but nonetheless love watching a slow train go by.  I told her I would not do this but I could see someone (not me) jumping on the ladder up to the platform betwixt each huge metal box and climbing one side then down to the other as the cars lumbered by.  I timed them-one Mississippi, two Mississippi and it took 10 seconds for each to travel from one side of the intersection to the other, slow, quiet, heavy-climb up, walk over climb down, jump off.

It only takes a second for a jump to go wrong, not on the hypothetical slow train but in a real basketball scrimmage-up one, shoot, full force of the other girl driving into my daughter’s knee.

Months later the kids tell me they thing we lost the indoor basketball that day.  We all know we lost more than that, coming so close on the heals of my spectacular gesture, ensuing protest and unraveling attendance at the ski ranch, leaving, being told to leave, when the ropes began separating, things falling in pieces, bodies in the murky brown water.

Basketball was supposed to be the rebound sport, but the breakup came too fast and we resorted to RICE, returned to MRIs, visited new ortho docs.

Each thing-the leave-yourself-behind move, the extreme sports, the regular sports, the injuries, just slow moving heavy boxes full of pebbles clicking slowly by-one Mississippi, two Mississippi, all the way down the line….

To rehab.  Not Amy Winehouse rehab-kneehab I coin it-another ordinary rectangular box, up then down, one Mississippi, two Mississippi.

I took M to rehab as soon as I could, wanted as soon as I could to assuage the hurt-fear-loss.  They iced it and I stayed with her or she would have been alone. 

Part One of two…

If you were to drive through sleepy a certain sleepy looking hamlet nestled in the farm-to market hypotenuse of I-10 east of San Antonio and I-35 south of San Marcos you would think it was a convenience store, a cafe, and maybe a bar or two.

If you approached that hamlet from the water side you would find a rather dazzling array of lake houses, boats, docks, and water sport paraphernalia.  All the houses say money and privilege but one stands out among them-a vast building or set of buildings so sprawling as to be a hotel or resort of some sort.

The, house, with its array of water skis, and wakeboards, belongs to an orthopedic doctor.  His patients could easily be his neighbors, and his collection of toys are often the vehicles for the injuries he surgically repairs.

Seems an uneasy tautology at best- knee surgeries caused by wakeboards, wakeboards bought by knee surgeries…