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A little levity, amidst the brevity

Sam and me, a few years back and upside down.
You know how it is. Most of us, by a certain age, have a tragedy to commemorate/uncelebrate during a particular time of year. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of mine, I’ve been toeing the line on Great Sadness all day. I remembered even before I was officially awake this morning. Oh, yeah. Sometime this week, it will be the same day again, years later. How many years? It was 1993. Now it’s 2013. By God, it’s been 20.

And then in the car, dropping off my son for his Monday-morning class, I couldn’t help but say it. “Tomorrow it will be 20 years since the car accident.”

God bless Sam. What do you say to your hippie-dippy mom under such circumstances?

“Does it seem like 20 years?” he asked.

I struggled to reply. It seems like a long time, for such a short time ago. But that doesn’t make any sense. Another awkward silence ensued, until I added, “But you’ve been with me through the whole time.”

The night of the car accident, I found out I was pregnant with Sam. The hope of him saved me, forced me to grieve and heal as best as I could.

“Maybe that explains why I can’t whistle,” he said, opening the car door.


“Sorry, I was just trying to add a little brevity.”

“You mean levity?”

“Yeah. Levity, brevity.” He could not escape fast enough.

As much as I grieve for the child who would have been my eldest, I’m ready to reset the timeline. On November 5, 1993, I lost Madeline and my body got busted up pretty bad. On November 5, 1993, I found out I was pregnant with Sam, and he and I went forward together into a new life, one where perhaps no one else laughs at our jokes, but we depend on each other to keep trying.

You have to keep trying, to practice even when nothing's ever perfect. I do yoga at work at noon on Mondays. It’s an odd ritual in the middle of the corporate workday, but my sanity sort of depends on it. I always struggle to let go of thoughts, but today I was even more distracted. I felt sad. It was hard not to think about then and now, especially when my body continues to remind me of its limits, its fears. Be grateful, I told myself, knowing that hardly ever works.

But I was grateful when we got to Savasana, corpse pose, because I could just lie there, feigning death except for the breathing. Toward the end of the pose, because we were running a little late, the instructor said we could skip the fetal position, which represents rebirth. No way, my inner baby said. Not today. If I have to die, I will be reborn. I rolled on to my side, ready for the unknown, the unknowable, the life not measured in tragic anniversaries.
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