And if I pop awake In the middle of the night?
Yes, the list is there too.
Across the aisle from me on the train to New York City last time sat a woman.
At one point on the journey she flipped huge black bug-eye sunglasses from the top of her head down over her eyes, her look now an insect dressed in designer clothes.
She reached in her purse,
grabbed a strand of worry beads and started kneading them.
With a rapid-fire reflexiveness she started moving one bead at a time .
Each only moved about half an inch down the string.
From the worry side to the safe side.
I could hear the rhythmic mantra of the beads again and again and again,
Quieter but still audible over the clickity clack pattern of the train itself.
I wondered what her worries were.
I wondered if she would add mine to hers.
Or trade with me, even.
Sometimes we need to do something with that energy.
For her it was tiny movements, thumb and forefinger
Pinching and sliding ivory beads on a round string.
We have our rituals when things get bleak. Some pray.
I do not.
There is a coping that comes with grief, a way to release the tension that grips us when things are bad.
Some days it does feel like it eats from the inside out.
When you must come to terms with what you fear
and what you dread
and all you want to do is lay down on the floor like a petulant two year old
and kick and scream about the unfairness of it all…
As if the universe gives a damn that life hasn’t been fair to you.
Clearly it doesn’t.
So I do not appeal to the universe to change what is.
I turn to my balms. I turn to research.
I turn to science.
I turn to determination and hope which are the last things I can cling to,
fingertip by fingertip,
like the cat on that iconic poster that says “Hang on, baby.”
Inner strength is sheer will.
My claws are firmly entrenched.
There is no other way to be.
There is no justice.
It’s up to me to come to terms with the weighted side.
That is where I live right now.
And so every day, when I wake up in the pre-dawn hours and contemplate my worry list and
come to terms with the day that is about to dawn,
I gather strength,
summoning it from its slumber.
“Here we go,” I say.
“Let’s do this.”
Another day is here.
I will see another.
Hang on, baby.