The moment I stir, there is a little black nose an inch from mine. Two loud sniffs determine if I am still alive, then the thud of two rescues leaping from the bed to the floor. The hurryup prebarking huffs begin the minute my own feet touch the floorboards. The countdown to fullscale arfing begins as I throw on many layers of clothes and race to the bathroom, which signals a dangerous escalation to yelping. The frenzied barking intensifies as I fumble the leashes and unlock the slider. The door opens. Squirrel! They bolt. I stumble after them, finally awake.
I found this picture of my Aunt Elena and Uncle Benny and had it blown up. Now it sits opposite our bed in a space where the light filters through. Appropriate, because Ellie and Benny always felt luminous to me, the love they had for each other an endless spring of joy and jokes and all the good things in life. I studied them without knowing I was taking this basic course on Love 101. After being married to Chris for over 38 years, I am glad I matriculated. I learned from them about mutual respect, the importance of the goal of laughing every day until you lost your breath, how to grieve together. Thank you, beloveds.
and, just as importantly, forty or so years later, still on the journey together, note where Ellie has her hand:
Jesse’s favorite Greek myth was Perseus and Andromeda. He loved heroes, warriors, dragon slayers. A life-size cutout of Xena, Warrior Princess stood in the corner of his room. Some understood that his broken body contained a warrior soul. After Jesse died, his best friend dreamed that he came to him as a warrior. After death, Perseus and Andromeda became constellations. But I don’t look to the stars for Jesse. I read the annual report of the Jesse fund at the MA Federation for Children with Special Needs that has slain the dragons of educational obstruction for over three hundred families of kids with disabilities, and see my warrior boy.
I don’t think of the first fraught birth day, two-and-a half months early, the icy fear, the grim pronouncements. Now I remember sunny still-warm October days on our deck, my son surrounded by cousins and friends, laughter and cake, the marsh in hues of gold. I want to find the multiverse where this day exists and reside there forever.