The call to write has been bubbling up in me again. It’s been a long time. The last time I really created new writing was when I wrote the last words of my book.
I miss writing here. Writing without trying to make Something Good. Just talking about what’s going on, pulling thoughts down from up there, or inside, or wherever they are to try and stitch together a meaning, an understanding.
This time has me sitting as close to center the of my sobriety as I did in the earliest days. I think about it when I wake up, when I make coffee, when I sit on my couch and look at the sun coming up, or the sun-having-already-come-up since my wake up seems to be getting later and later. I think about it when Piper joins me and turns circles in my lap, round and round, until she settles. I think about it when I’m going into my daughter’s school email, when I’m ordering workbooks on Amazon for Math, Science, Humanities, and trying to cobble together a plan for her to work for the day. It’s new. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m agitated and restless and frustrated and somehow it’s all so simple it catches in my throat. Here’s your math assignment, you’re working on multiplying fractions today. Read this passage in Black Beauty and tell me what the narrator wants you to know. Go outside and take pictures of ten kinds of rocks. That type of thing.
I think about it when I remember to take my medication and I realize today, today this is the only medication I take. There used to be so many pills. I was a mad scientist: booze and cocaine and Xanax and Celexa and Ambien and coffee and sugar and all at the right time but always too much and I was balancing on a string, a razor.
I think about it when I talk to my friend Benjamin in London and he plays for me a bit of the new song he’s created and I say, without thinking, that sounds like God. He says, that’s who I’m talking to. He says, that’s who my love letters are for. He says, I love Her.
I say, me too.
I think about it when my daughter asks me to scratch her back before bed, when she asks for water again, to turn on her audiobook. I get frustrated because I’m so worn thin, sleep is pulling at me hard, the escape kind of sleep that I use when depression is on my heels. I say, not tonight honey, and she says, please, Mama. And I sigh and say, okay honey, of course, as I turn over and lift her shirt up to reach her back. The minute my hand touches her back I think, why did I want to miss this, why would I ever miss this for anything.
She asks me, mama, when will you stop scratching my back? She’s been hard on me all day, uninterested, annoyed at my demands to get off the iPad, do some work, join me for a walk outside. She’s been all teen.
But now she’s my little girl again, and she asks, and I say, never, honey. I’ll always scratch your back.
When I’m done I say, I love you, bean. I love you more than the whole world and she says, I know.
I think of it when we’re on the 5th week together and she’s not hugged her dad in as long. When he comes to pick her up and my body is filled with strange panic, the panic of how much I might miss her any moment now, the panic of my baby leaving. I think of it then because it’s an old panic—one of the thousands I used to drink at—the empty house when her dad picked her up on Sunday afternoons. The not knowing how to be with myself. I think of it because I know how to be with myself now.
I see her hug her dad and neither of them let go and his jaw trembles because he’s missed her—I can’t imagine how much he’s missed her—and she still won’t let go until finally she does and she dances, hooray! Let’s go meet the baby!
She’s got a new sister and I think of it when I remember that, I think of it because my only prayer used to be that I hope we could all just be okay. Just okay, please. The three of us. Please just let us be okay. And if I can’t be okay, just let them be. Let him be.
He is more than okay.
We are all more than okay.
I think of it because there are layers of loss and grief and sadness sometimes but goddamn I remember when I expected so much less than what it is now and that makes every single layer perfectly fine.
It hurts because it is real life. It hurts because we all loved something so much, and still do. It hurts because I am awake.
I think of it now because I’m crying and I could never cry before. My tears were buried so far in the ice. I didn’t know what to cry about first, or how.
I think of it now because I go to see your faces on my computer almost every day. You are there and you tell your stories and you say, me, me, me, I am on day one, day five, day twenty-nine. You say I’ve never done this before and you say I’ve never been to a meeting and you say I’m scared to talk and you talk anyway.
I think of it now because somehow I am here looking at myself in your faces and I see God, I see God, I see God, there she is again.
I think of it now because I understand how thin the thread is between this world and that. I think of it because I am so stupidly lucky and also I fought so hard. I worked so hard and if I could give you what I have been given for five seconds just so you'd know, I would.
I haven’t tried to think about this, not once.
Almost immediately when we started to stay in, it was there, on the surface of everything. All over my skin. This new and old feeling.
I knew what to do. Trust God, clean house, help others. I dropped to my knees for the first time in a long time and I said, thank you. I don’t even know for what, for everything, thank you.
I want to tell you to hang on. I want to tell you it’s worth it but that’s almost silly, the least of it.
I want to tell you I love you and I’m so glad to remember.
I’m glad to be filled with this again. It has changed me. It has brought me home.