09 Jan 2014, Posted by elizabeth in Blog, 11 Comments
I didn’t pick a “word of the year” at the start of 2013, but one picked me. Illness, of varieties both large and small, was a runaway train that barreled through my life, providing uncanny bookends to the year. It started January 3 with a trip to the emergency room and a brush with my own mortality. Then one, or two, or – during the worst weeks – three of us were constantly sick throughout the late winter and early spring, a merry-go-round that we couldn’t seem to stop. Just as we were coming out of the haze my mother-in-law fell ill, and her quick decline and eventual death would consume us all throughout the summer and fall. When I thought 2013 had finally released its grip, Abra fell ill right before Christmas, and we spent nearly three weeks holed up inside our house, ringing in the New Year with antibiotics, a nasty cough, and an early bedtime.
23 Dec 2013, Posted by elizabeth in Blog, 10 Comments
A few Sundays ago we hauled the ornaments from the top shelf of our closet to decorate the Christmas tree. I had awoken that morning, for no apparent reason, irritable and edgy, a phenomenon I’ve grown accustomed to over the past several months, and I thought engaging in this holiday ritual might help. I gently pulled the ornaments, which had been carefully tucked in the folds of wrinkly tissue paper, out of their boxes. They unfurled like pieces of origami, all razor-sharp edges and spiky corners, each one a memory that pierced me. When I was 12 my mother started me on a collection of bluebird ornaments, faithfully adding to it each Christmas morning. “Your spirit animal,” she told me, long before I knew what that was. That first one I received always hangs in the top branches of my tree, a puffy, sapphire globe with wings like twin jet packs and a golf tee beak, rendered delicately in glass, the paint starting to fade after nearly 25 years. Each December, as I unwrap it from its cozy nest, I hold my breath, fearing it has shattered to bits. What will I do when it eventually, inevitably, breaks?
06 Feb 2013, Posted by elizabeth in Blog, 12 Comments
Exactly three years ago I wrote this love letter to you.
I was just rounding the bend on the first trimester of my first – and, I’m confident now, only – pregnancy. Never sick a single day, I remember feeling nervous that this was a bad sign, foretelling a “weak” pregnancy that might not stick, but after passing that magical 12-week mark I breathed a deep sigh of relief. This was how I told the world about your impending arrival. It was an ebullient time, the final gasp of winter before spring broke through the cold, crusty days. On our last Valentine’s Day as a family of two your dad and I spent the day working on a do-it-yourself bathroom remodel that we had just begun, one we were certain would take a few short months and wrapped up just a few weeks before you were born, a desperate race against the clock. But that day we were full of the bright optimism that one feel’s at the beginning of such projects, before the inevitable budget-busting, time-sucking setbacks dig in their muddy heels and threaten to sully everything. Before reality has a chance to cast its long shadow over the excitement. There is a photo of me taken that day, standing in the midst of the construction zone, pretending to shampoo my hair where the new shower head would be, a slight bulge peeking out just above my waistband, luminous smile swiped across my face, oblivious to what an all-consuming project this would end up being.
30 Jan 2013, Posted by elizabeth in Blog, 12 Comments
A few weeks ago I awoke one morning with a small, tight knot in my back. It had lodged itself in the valley next to my scapula, a compact mass of taut tissue that had taken up residence overnight, for no apparent reason. I tried massaging it with my fingertips, my elbow arranged in a sharp hairpin in front of my nose to reach the awkward spot on my back. I tried stretching, soaking in hot baths, and taking Ibuprofen. Not only did it not budge, it grew worse. Each time I inhaled deeply I felt the tightness in the upper-left quadrant of my back expand; each time I twisted my torso around to look out my blind spot while driving I felt a tingle of pain race up my back. After nearly two weeks I finally called my massage therapist, who was able to see me a few days later.
23 Jan 2013, Posted by elizabeth in Blog, 12 Comments
I was sitting in a wingback chair at my aunt’s house, listening to a detailed story about how her Achilles’s tendon had dissolved over a matter of weeks. It was almost 10:30, and we were preparing to turn in for the night in anticipation of our flight back to Albuquerque the next day when Maikael had innocently asked, “So what happened to your foot anyway?” Equally blessed and cursed with a fertile imagination, it wasn’t difficult for me to envision the ropy muscle separating from the bone and then ceasing to exist altogether, like acid poured over metal, and my mind circled around this mystery in an infinite loop until I was overcome with a familiar sensation.