Dec 28 2010

Everything’s (just) Okay

For days I’ve been chewing on this one: a moment that offered me proof that everything was going to be alright. I really want to answer this Reverb10 prompt, because it’s a good one, because I like the author, I like her blog and her book, a signed copy of which was among the presents under our tree this Christmas.

Honestly, I cannot think of a moment in the last year when I felt that everything was going to be okay. I can think of many moments like this in my life: for instance when Short-pants was released from the hospital. Even though we had months of physical therapy ahead and our lives were totally bouleversé, I remember the exquisite feeling of relief, pushing her stroller down the central road of the hospital complex toward the main exit; the winter sun low in the sky that was otherwise a flawless blue, literally and figuratively.

But this year, not that things weren’t eventually okay – they are – but I don’t remember ever having that reassuring feeling that they would be. I don’t remember a pivotal stop-in-time moment when it felt like a corner had been turned and things were going to be alright. Mostly I remember feeling like I was drifting from a state of really-pretty-hard to not-awful-but-not-okay, orphaned in my grief, putting one foot in front of the other because that’s what you do; life marches us forward and we manage to keep in step. Pancakes are made, coats are zipped, children rushed out the door and phone calls are made, emails are answered, meetings attended. The industry of being a parent and a professional inches us forward and it’s all like clockwork if you don’t think too hard about it or let yourself feel what’s missing. That’s what the rest of the world expects, not to think or feel too much. Grief is such an imposition, a thing spoken about in hushed tones.

But if you’re like me, and you can’t turn off the ticking thoughts, or quiet that nostalgic heart, it’s hard to answer society’s numbing call to put on a good face and put it all behind you. You do it, but inside you’re trudging along. Yeah, you’re okay, but not really.

I think – at least for me – 2010 wasn’t a year of being alright. It was a year of being rather a bit hard then just being okay. It wasn’t my year, this year. I don’t want to be overly dramatic, I know it could have been a lot worse. There are millions of people in the world who suffer much more than I have. But I think it’s okay to acknowledge that the last year had a heavy cloud hanging over it – at least over my little piece of the universe.

Moving into 2011 isn’t anything but a numeric change; January 1, 2011 is only 24 hours later than December 31, 2010. But somehow the flipping of digits offers a mental satisfaction of a change, a shift, a sense of next. The prospect of a new year means a new start, a clean slate. I will have some one-year anniversaries to move through in the coming months, no doubt, but I’ll forge through them and then, maybe, finally, I’ll have that feeling that things are going to be alright. And when I do, I’ll write about it here.

However, I did share this prompt with Short-pants, who knew instantly what to write. She gave me permission to publish her reply:

I was entering CM1 – the 4th grade – and I was nervous because it was the class that I knew the least about, when you talk about teachers. On September 2, 2010, it was the first day of school and I was worried. I wondered who my teacher would be. When I finally saw the teachers, they both looked nice. My worries escaped from me, suddenly. I knew everything would be okay.

Here we are in the homestretch, winding down the old year, heading into the new year, hoping – and knowing, I guess – that everything will be alright. Let’s hope the new year bring all good things to all of you – to all of us.

I’m participating in Reverb10, and this post is in response to a prompt from author Kate Inglis: Prompt: Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Jan 20 2009


Today, there’s hope, I told her. She was pressing her fingers one-by-one into a bright pink glove, deliberately missing one of the fingers, the middle one, so she could hold up her hand and play out one of her favorite ruses: “Look Mama, which finger is missing?” Unimpressed with the weight of my proclamation, she ignored it.
Today there is hope, I told her again. It’s an historic day, a day I want her to remember. Anyone alive today will talk retrospectively about this day for the rest of their lives, remembering the ground they stood on when they witnessed history. Every generation has its “Where were you when…?” questions, many of them commemorating a tragedy. Where were you when you learned JFK was shot? When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated? When the World Trade Center collapsed? It makes for existential late-night conversation, sitting on the floor of the dorm-hallway, or a surefire opening for personal disclosure at a dinner party of strangers.

But instead of venerating a disastrous moment, the question provoked by today’s inaugural events will link us to an positive and optimistic memory, marking a pivotal moment in our lifetime where a nation peacefully and deliberately turned away from being powered by fear to being driven by hope. This is what I want her to remember about today. I want her to remember to hope. So I told her again, today there is hope.

“Hope for what?” she asked, “Candy?”