This year is the year I have dubbed Mortality Lessons. I've joked that I think I'm ready to take the quiz now, I'm ready to stop immersive study practices and show I've learned the material, maybe even mastered it, I think I will ace it, enough already.
I'm not sure that's how Mortality Lessons actually works.
My sister E had not one, but two strokes this summer. She has been recovering ever since, doing all sorts of therapy, and making impressive strides. Her friends and family are ardent supporters. My sisters--there are three of us--were and are the squad (SQUAD!) for my dad as he has recovered from his own brain events.
At the moment, though, E has to make getting better, recovering, her main focus. This is one of the statements on her Wall of Truth. The Wall of Truth is my younger sister's invention, and it is genius. These statements are written on pieces of white paper in Sharpie, and taped to the wall opposite the bed and chair. Other statements include the dates of her brain events; the location of her two daughters, and the fact that they are all right; and other pertinent facts about E's here and now, which can feel a little elusive sometimes. The Wall of Truth is supposed to help in making the here and now a little bit more stable. More confirmable. Look up, and there are the bare facts of the case, the incontrovertible, the inarguable.
Truth: the inarguable here and now are sometimes unbearable.
Truth: the people who love us are infinitely precious.
Truth: the burdens we bear cannot, for the most part, be made easier to bear through better thinking or better organizing. We just have to bear them.
Truth: still, sometimes we can use a little help.
Some of the sweetest conversations of my life I've had this year, with my mother, my father, my sisters, my brother. My therapist pointed out that one of the reasons the sweetness, and the grief, both feel so sharp is that these conversations--these circumstances--are sacred. That rang true to me. The sacredness--the way this year has felt set apart, a steep swerve into another realm--intensifies both the grief and the grace.
Today I came home from a long but good day, feeling like I had done a pretty good job at all the job things that were on my agenda. I told the historian so, and he offered a kind word, affirming what I felt. It's my habit to simultaneously hold this kind of praise, and to demur.
"Thanks for saying that," I said to him.
"Well, it's true," he said. "Maybe you
need a Wall of Truth."
Truth: the end of the day Friday is the sweetest moment of the week.
Truth: I really, really love my family, all of them, in an infinity of times and places. There will never be enough words for this.
Truth: there is also never enough time.
Truth: I need to arrange to get a CT Angio, stat.