A Front


Yesterday a front moved in…a wall of white cloud and cold air that seemed to alter everything. The light was  tinged with blue, and dim, like a too-soon dusk, and the hills looked frosty, and everything felt strange.

Everything is strange…isn’t it? The route has been recalculated. Please drive onto a digitized road. But where? I can’t see past the front.

I used to pray at night, an earnest hybrid of a prayer, and one of the things I used to say was, “Let me be an instrument of love and light.”

I don’t even know what that means. These are ugly, disillusioning times.

I liked being out of the country for a while. When I was far away, what is happening to our democracy was easier to mute.  We’re living with an illness now, a collective trauma, a debilitating daily onslaught.  I know we need to act, but sometimes I feel helpless.

A friend of mine tells me that my writing is always sad. But I think I’m just being honest, trying to write through to some sort of sense…to that band of light behind the clouds.

A month ago, I was in Paris. I was walking along a street in Paris called Rue de Turbigo, and suddenly, completely out of context, I remembered my mother looking up at me from her bed not long before her death, and she could hardly speak, but she mouthed the words, “I love you so much.”

Oh, those sudden flashbacks…they bring an almost physical pain.

Did I say, “I love you so much” back? I honestly can’t remember. And would saying it have mattered? It’s as if I was in some kind of trance. There are so many things I wish I had said, and so many questions I wish I had asked, so many things I wish we had talked about over the years. (I wonder if my daughter will feel this about me someday.)

But I said the words out loud in Paris on Rue de Turbigo. I said it to the air:  “I love you so much.”

My voice blended with the traffic and noise and cacophony of the city. It radiated outward and floated upward and dissolved into sound-waves and molecules moving through time.

I am putting up a brave front.

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