It’s the 23rd. Two days before Christmas.
And not the monthly Christmas that we weren’t quite as good at honoring these past few months because of because. But the actual one that everybody else in the Christian world celebrates with us.
This isn’t about Christmas, though, because this Christmas hasn't quite revealed itself yet. (I'm full of hope that it will.)
Instead, this is about falling all the way in. Over your head - I hope I can hold my breath long enough to get back to the surface - in.
This is about slipping away from a houseful of people we love on August 21, 2017, and walking down to the beach at Duck together to see the total eclipse of the sun without explanation. Without commentary. Because simply seeing a total eclipse of the sun, feeling the air suddenly and unexpectedly cooler on our skin, and hearing the gulls and sanderlings pause to take it in were all quite enough.
This is about the things we might have missed had we known what to look for.
It’s about the time you listened to Titanium on repeat for hours, maybe days, before googling the lyrics. It’s about how you knew the song was written for you before you even knew the words.
It’s about the time I came into your condo, probably last May, and found you lying alone on the couch wrapped up in one of your soft blankets, the overhead lights off, the blinds down, listening to Joni Mitchell.
It's about those times that we’d sit at the table with Mom and John, and you’d tell me how I screwed up the joke. Every joke.* Like the one about superman and magic beer. How you’d repeat it back to me, except the way I should have told it the first time, which may, or may not have been the tiniest bit annoying. And then you’d laugh so hard - at your own telling of it - even though we knew the punchline in advance. About how I resisted, but couldn’t quite. How I’d laugh at your laughing, and that would drive you deeper into your own laugh pit, and I’d fall in right after you and the more we laughed the deeper we’d fall. About how this laughing jag might go on for
(While I was editing this, Kylie showed me a video of you laughing in Duck during a girls’ weekend last Spring and reminded me about that thing you did to try get your air back - the thing you stole from mom that she stole from Linda Richmond when she got verklempt. It’s about that.)
This is about how we could laugh and laugh, and just be completely in the joy. Not even trying to make sense of why. Or maybe just realizing the joy was its own why.
This is about the times you would step right into Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or Ladybird or even The Santa Clause. So much so that you would be genuinely confused when someone in the room whispered, “Do you want me to pop some corn?” Because for a moment, you just couldn't figure out which character said it. Or why? Or to whom? Because you were all the way in.
It’s about why you're my all time favorite person to watch a movie with.
It's about seeing the sunrise over the Shenandoah on October 7, 2017 and lingering until we realized that everyone else was waiting in the car to go back to the campsite for bacon. It's about sunset over the Pacific near Carmel, on March 4, 2017 and not knowing whether we did or did not see gray whales breaching, but knowing that it didn’t much matter because we certainly did. Whether we did or not.
(You know exactly what I mean, don’t you? It's about you knowing.)
Friends have asked me, what do I most miss? I love it when they ask me.
Sometimes I miss strategizing with you, because you always helped me to look at things a little bit differently, and our strategies were always better when we worked them together. Sometimes I miss you reminding me to focus so I even knew the right thing to strategize about.
Sometimes I miss your answers.
Where in the f**k did you put the versamark pad?
Sometimes I miss our nightly meetings where we’d discuss tomorrow’s shift plan and recap the important events of the day. I miss the meetings with Dr. McGaughey and Dr. Goudar after your voice was just a whisper because I always knew the questions you wanted me to ask for you. I miss knowing the questions you want me to ask.
And when I thought about it later, It seemed odd to be so inconsistent, until I realized,
What I miss the most changes every time you walk so lightly, carefully across my heart and your fingers brush against the colorful jars of moments I keep hidden there.
This is about being inconsistent, and embracing the inconsistency. Even longing for it.
Right now, what I most miss is having you to remind how to take in an eclipse. How to hold my breath long enough to go all the way to the bottom of the music, and how to tumble down a laugh pit. How to take in the sun without trying to understand why there's more pink over the sound today than yesterday.
What I miss the most is your minute by minute reminder that the deepest understanding always begins when you're lying flat on your back,
In the washing over place.
ee cummings wrote:
you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
That’s what this is about. And maybe this was about Christmas, all along.
I love you, sweet girl. You know who you are.
* Not my fault. Read this.