On Tenderness

Finding a way back is difficult.

Leonard is up several times a night now. It’s like having an infant in the house. And I worry almost as much. When he sleeps through the night now, I’m still awake listening for his breathing.

No walk this morning. Just a tour of the bushes in the front yard. The moon looks full, although technically waning. From this past week, I’ve learned to tell the time this time of year by the moon’s journey past the light post, over the shed, and across the street to just touch on the top of the nursing home’s roof. Midnight. Two. Three.

When my alarm went off at 4.15 he sighed but made no move to get up. So much for a tight morning schedule. So much for the springboard into a new (school) year, where I could pull myself together again body & soul as they say.

No morning walk. But a coarse pill shoved in the back of Leonard’s throat while I hold his snout up so he has no choice but to swallow. This is something of the pain we cause while trying to do good. I’m flooded with ambivalence but learning to hold it well. Responsibly.

In the living room, I move through the warrior positions and my shoulder hurts. My achilles bites. I am realising these are sensations that I will have to live with from now on. An infant grows through colic and a teen through “growing pains”. But these new pains will settle into my body and I will live with them. If I am very lucky my years will double over themselves from here, slowing in terms of change, but better-practiced in acceptance. Accommodation.

So I am trying to reframe the pain as tenderness. I’m trying to reframe all of my pain as tenderness.

This past week I have had flashes of anger. I’ve had memories surface. But as soon as I try to hold them, the details dissipate. The words grief and sorrow seem so intellectual. Signifiers with no corporal reference. Words-as-metaphors: vehicles lacking tenors. I think about the single sob my body ejected before my mind understood the situation of my mother’s death. Was that grief? The expelling of a single owl pellet of fur and bones, and the useless, undigestible bits of 55 years.

There is nothing more to be gained from this.

After the pain, after the vomiting, after the open wound has closed, there is tenderness.

And tenderness makes a soft bed for forgiveness to grow. Hope in the shadows of moonlight.

Yeah. That is sappier than I wanted it to sound.

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