It dawns on me that we’re all grieving. Loved ones. The thin veil of decency between thoughts and words. The space between words and an audience. A “normal” day, whatever that means.
It dawns on me that maybe more than most, I loved normal. It was ordinary. A day of nothing more than brisk walks up and down the steep, gorgeous hills of my neighborhood streets, my eyes on the perfect swish of my dog’s tan and white backside, my first word every morning, a heartfelt “goodboypee.” On a loop, his meal, then my meal, then work at a small screen at the far end of my living room. Throughout the day, another walk, another meal, another call, another wave at the screen to distant teammates. In the evening, the couch under my legs, the remote in one hand, my pup’s body cradled in between my thighs. On the weekends, a drive to the market or the mall with Ma, watching her launch into close-up conversation with perfect strangers, or linger forever over the perfect platano or the blouse she might need. And on glorious occasion, a theater, a concert, a meal at a crowded restaurant with tribe. In between, some yoga, some dancing, some writing. Trying to make it all interesting. A little something every day for the head, for the body, for the heart and the soul.
It dawns on me that I don’t crave otherwordly light, singing angels and godly voices. I bleed for what’s gone of the ordinary. The flesh and bone. The jangle of my pup’s tags as he takes flight from ground to couch. The breath of my friend’s secret in my ear. The pulse of a crowd in rhythm.
It dawns on me that I don’t dwell on the good deeds, achievements, or proximity to perfection of my beloved departed or my beloved earthbound. Don’t long for the grandiose moments of my life. I dwell on the sound of my dad’s Zippo, followed by the smell of his cigar. The crazy pitch of my uncle’s rendition of a cheesy novela theme song. The devil’s curve on my buddy’s lips right before he delivered a perfect one-liner. The belly-against-belly of a full-body hug from my darling man. The way my girl calls my mother “Ma.”
It’s the ordinary that presses up against my heart every morning. The flesh and bone I can’t touch, see, hear, smell, or taste anymore, that keeps me up at night.
I’ve taken to prayer before bed. In search of nothing more than a good night’s rest. Not lofty, poetic prayer. Not original, personal conversational prayer. But common prayer. With beads in my hands and programmed words that I’ve spoken a thousand times. It somehow softens the edges around my resistance. The solid presence of the beads, the shape of the words in my mouth, keep me tethered. Sooner or later, at some bead or another, some hail or hallowed be, I fall sleep.
And when I wake up, it dawns on me every morning, what if we’ve gotten it all wrong? What if all that’s holy about us is ordinary flesh and bone?