My heart is sore, my thoughts are tangled, my fingers are numb; I stumble toward writing but the writing, right now, does not release or calm or soothe.
December has come in fighting, raining blows upon my heart.
My step-grandmother (the only grandmother that I have had since my mother’s mother, the grandmother of my heart, passed away when I was thirteen) lies in intensive care. Dying, my grandfather says. A fall, an injury to the head. Subdural hematoma. He sighs, his voice tired, pained, over thousands of miles of telephone wire. He doesn’t know what he will do. My heart pounds and strains; I try to comfort him; we’ll come out, we’re coming, we’ll come soon, we’ll come see her, come see you. He doubts this, doubts that we will be able to see her, doubts that she will last that long. I whisper promises to call, to comfort, whatever he needs, whatever they need; we’ll be there soon, I say.
The next morning, this morning, I call my mother, who is estranged from her father, my grandfather, to urge her to call, to comfort, to set aside hurt and grievance, to be there. Of course, she says, of course, but haven’t I told you? Her own news came just yesterday. Skin cancer. Melanoma. Malignant tumour. Cut out, dug out, stitched over, but still. It lurks. I’m fine, she says. I must be vigilant, she says, on my guard, but I’m fine. I don’t believe her. Cancer is too dark a word; I can’t wrap it in light.
The distance between me and family – so many miles, so many hours, so many days – stretches, stretches. I have struggled – do struggle – with my distance from Tanner, from my sister, from that measured life, from the many joys and from the many pains (more and more he stumbles, they stumble, it is getting more difficult to veil the truth with cheer.) I have struggled – do struggle – with my distance from my father, who misses the embrace of family, who needs me, I know, even though he won’t say so. I struggle, struggle, struggle with distance. I miss them, they need me, I need them, it hurts.
Love can make any distance shrink, disappear; it draws the horizon to us, it allows us to touch the sun, feel its warmth, even when it is so far. Pain, fear – these make the smallest distance in time or space seem infinite, insurmountable. So far to go, so difficult the journey, why am I not already there?
My heart is sore, my head confused. Expect quiet from this corner for a few days.