some things just end

Weeks pass blurred. Mid-day, I wander downtown with my coat hanging open, the weather too warm and humid, the sky at times so bright it confounds.

Or I drag a chair across the floor to hear the reassuring scrape of it.

Or I hold my breath in the thick morning stillness, just to feel my hot heart pulsing.

Reading. Failing to read. Taking notes on sheets of lined paper, clipping the pages together. This provides a kind of satisfaction.

The parents of our friends are dying. My friend says: “I bought sympathy cards in a pack. I can no longer keep up.”

We are having lunch at a table near a window. Outside the window, something is being built while some other thing is being torn down.

“This is how it is now,” she says. “And I don’t think it will get better.”

Her own father in a slow decline, a condition not yet identified. His brain sends messages to which his body cannot respond. On a walk along the beach, he knows to turn left, toward home, but cannot make his body turn left, cannot interrupt the forward motion, so panicking, he stops himself in the only way he can, by collapsing to the damp sand.

Outside, a man on the construction site calls out: “Back, back, all the way back,” until a jackhammer drowns out his voice.

Here is a partial list of current preoccupations:

I walk past the house of a friend and see purple petunias in bloom this late in November and it worries me.

I learn about an artist in Minneapolis who inserts tiny panes of colored glass in chain-link fencing. The surprising beauty of it is haunting. Every chain-link fence I see seems now – more starkly than before – an utter failure of imagination.

A woman once told me the story of how she returned to school for a law degree later in her life, after her kids were grown. There was an issue in the neighborhood – a land dispute. She attended a meeting with some other women she knew from the neighborhood and soon after that, she found herself collecting signatures for petitions. There was a lawsuit, and the neighborhood group won. She found her involvement exhilarating and it prompted her to research law programs. Although I have heard her tell the story several times, I cannot recall the simplest details of it – what the dispute was, what the lawsuit was, where she ended up going to school. Is this the way it begins? Forgetting simple things?

My son is having some difficulties in school. Not academic, but social. He is easily frustrated, has his feelings hurt easily. Does not move easily from one activity to another. We tell his teachers that we have developed ways to help him – we alert him before transitions. We admit we may have shied away from social activities in large groups (for his comfort or our own?) We are encouraged to put him in situations that might frustrate him, to allow him to develop the skills to respond appropriately. I can’t help thinking what a unique problem of privilege – my son is not in situations that frustrate him enough? 

I am struggling for a kind of closure – even in this most informal of forms. I am looking for a way to tie this all up. An image, an idea that resonates in some small way with where I began, with what has come before.

Not this morning, I’m afraid. My time is up and I suppose some things just end.