I so want to think of myself as a writer. I want to believe that I am one of those who are gifted enough to throw a net around the terrible beauty that is life and capture it for us all to study.
I wish I had that talent. I wish I had the magic that it takes to identify each emotion and name it and hold it up before our eyes. I wish I had what it takes to polish each feeling and rub off the useless fragments on its edges. I would love to believe that someday I’d have the gift of truth in my hand so that I could open my fingers and let everyone understand what it is that exists underneath the confusing mass of tears and laughter.
I wish I could do that.
Right now, though, I have to lower my head into my hands and accept the fact that one single day can hold so much joy and so much pain. I have to let go.
Life is just such a fucking gift. Every day. Every minute.
Today I cooked with 20 little children. Some were there because they want to learn more about cooking. Some were there because their parents have to work and this was a safe and fun place for them to spend a summer day. Some were tired. Some were sad. Most, though, were filled with the innate joy that is childhood in a safe place. They laughed, they joked, they asked me 20,000 questions. They shouted, “Me! Can I? I’ll do it!!! I’ll go first!!!” They smiled at me, they thanked me, they complimented me on my cuisine, my gray hair, my “Best Nonni” apron.
Today was joy.
It was also 95 degrees while I was frying felafel and making pita bread. I sweated so much in the first hour that when I raised my arms to push my hair back, I wondered who had brought in the goats and why thay smelled so bad.
I was exhausted. My legs hurt from standing for 7 1/2 hours. My back hurt from leaning over the table to show them how to mince, stir, knead. My arm hurt from stirring.
By the time I got home and stepped into a cool shower, I was feeling sort of sorry for myself.
Then my husband came home. He looked upset. I asked what was up.
He told me that one of our oldest friends just lost her daughter, very suddenly.
What? The young woman who died (What? DIED????) was the first baby that any one of our friends had. We’ve known her for her entire life. She was vibrant, alive. A young Mom. A teacher.
Everything changed then.
How is such a thing possible?
What the hell does life even mean if something like this can happen?
Overwhelmed with grief for our friends. Desperately wanting to hold each of my children. Wanting to tell them how much I love and need them.
How can life do this? How can God?
I don’t understand.
I certainly don’t understand well enough to write anything that can help to make sense of a day like this one.
All I know is that every goddamned day is a GIFT. And we have to embrace each one. Every hot, sunny, humid moment is a gift. Every baby girl covering herself with butter to express her desire for a nap is a gift.
Every rainy, cold, boring afternoon is a gift.
Every aching muscle is a reminder that you’re alive to feel it. Every night of insomnia is a night of time to think and remember and dream.
And every single phone call or text from a child, no matter what the reason, is a gift from the Gods of the loving universe.
Tonight I go to bed achy, sad, joyful, grateful, grieving.
I wish that I could cover it all more eloquently, but I can’t.
Life is both a gift and a mystery. Let’s just embrace that.