Now, where was I?
On the first day of school in January, Thirteen sat in the passenger seat of my car waiting for his bus. Those five minutes we share most mornings are a treasure to me—usually we’re laughing so hard that when the bus arrives he scrambles to collect his backpack, lunch, and kiss for the top of his head. That morning, for reasons I can’t explain, we were baaing like very cold sheep.
“BaH,” he tried.
“Baaaaaaaa,” I responded, throaty and bouncing off of the low sound.
Thirteen lifted the latch on my glove box. Nothing happened.
“Maaaaa.” He commented, a small sound, flat.
“BAAA,” Mama sheep.
“You’re better at baaing than I am. You sound like a sheep.” Flip, flip, flip on the latch.
“I grew up with sheep,” I said, watching his hand work the latch up and down. “Baaaa.”
He laughed and stopped flipping, “What’s in here?”
“My camera, I hope. But I don’t know. It’s been locked and broken for a few months.”
And suddenly I remembered that the latch on my glove box was not working. That I had a plan, hatched with a salesman at Napa Auto Parts, to take the car to a locksmith rather than the dealer to see if the lock could be opened so that I could both find out what was inside and get the car and me one step closer to parting ways. The memory may seem insignificant, but it had been foremost in my mind a month earlier and discovering it on that chilly January morning was finding something I hadn’t even realized was lost.
“Kiss for top of woolly head?” Thirteen’s bus was pulling up to collect him.
“Baaaa,” said the mama sheep, leaning over to deposit the requested kiss. “Have a fabulous day. See you after.”
“Hee hee,” giggled the lamb as he leapt out of the car.
Sometime back when I was keeping the non-opening function of my glove box in my mind, I was also imagining that three and a half days off from the yoga studio, a month off from Overneath It All, and a smattering of days off here and there from some of my other responsibilities would constitute a respite, a holiday even, which would leave me reset and refreshed and ready to embrace a new year. I imagined all of this and I made plans. I drew up lists and menus. I stayed up late getting things done, presents wrapped, greeting cards ordered. And then. And then the bottom dropped out from under me. My mother, Eighty-Eight, landed in the hospital for nine days from before the Solstice to almost the New Year.
Eighty-Eight has lived with me and Thirteen and Ten since they were Seventy-Seven, Two and Not-Yet. In that time her health has been remarkable. Other than upkeep and a broken shoulder, which healed nicely, it’s been little more than aches and pains now and then, plus an occasional dental issue. But on December 18, a day on which I had appointments, a party and a to-do list of work and holiday items for which I had thoroughly prepared, we hit the big time: A fall, an ambulance ride to emergency, and the beginning of what I’ve come to think of as our new normal.
Somehow, in spite of going to and from the hospital, meeting with doctors and nurses, learning a whole host of new vocabulary surrounding heart conditions, keeping family and friends updated, and bringing a weak but willing Eighty-Eight home to the comfort of her own room, I navigated keeping the studio warm and inviting into the holiday, a blizzard, a power outage, and Christmas and New Year’s, making them as festive as possible for my family and me. It was not anything near what I had planned, nor was it restful. But it was, I see now, a kind of reset. Different priorities came to the fore; details slid out of my mind entirely.
Little by little, time has contrived to create space and distance from the hospital experience. As rest and brainpower return and the new normal becomes a little more apparent, thoughts and ideas I was attentive to are returning. I’m here—I haven’t moved much and while baaing like a sheep might not be a life skill worth teaching in schools, it’s everything and more if Thirteen and I can sit waiting for his bus and laugh out loud.
It’s a new moon, a wee-bit late for the New Year but a new beginning nonetheless. And it’s the birthday of a woman who does me the great honor of reading these posts regularly. A shout-out to her and a wish for all of us that we move forward from here together. Much love, Happy New Year, & thanks for reading, Rxo