I remember snippets of our conversation that senior year spring break with Claire’s grandma down on some white sand beach in the bottom of Florida. All stretched out, nothing to do but make it back in time for 4pm high balls with Nana.
Claire, an artist, said that she’s concluded that we all have at least one thing – one big defining thing – that we just let go of, we lose. For her, it’s neatness. As I think back to her piles of clothes, dishes, detritus of a blooming adult, I agree. She points out to Liz who is shaded under an umbrella, for you Liz, it’s spelling. And it is. Liz, who would become a top-notch assistant district attorney working to support children and families and now a general counsel for a multi-national corporation, is a less-than-stellar speller.
Claire looked at me, the sun starting to go down, and she said hm, you Meaghan, I’m still trying to figure out what you have lost and let go of.
Twenty years later, I can tell her all that I’ve lost. A memory of life before grief. Of being able to feel my chest. Of uncomplicated intimacy. Of a level of carefree without the deep grave knowing. Of an ability to brush off a tweak in my neck or persistent cough as just a normal thing, allergies, aging, sleeping wrong. Of too many friends to count – I tried, really tried, and then I missed a few, the pen attached to my journal running out of ink one day, and now I’ll never have the full record of lives blinking out like fireflies in the dusk so why bother. Yesterday it was Hilary and tomorrow who knows.
When this pandemic started, I thought to myself, I’ve done this before. I’ve been there, or here, literally, in my home for months on end, fatigued and sick, fragile and immunocompromised, every thing a threat to my existence. The in between, suspended between two monkey bars and the only choice to go was forward but in slow motion, was it slow enough for me to free fall down like the others, into the vast unknown or was it fast enough to be here, still, tomorrow.