Monday, January 18, 2010

This Is Just A Test

My hand was weak. I dragged the pen across the page with more effort than it should have taken to lift such a light object. I worked at it, though, forcing myself to concentrate because I knew it had to be done. I wrote out the words my family would need to hear.

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On the first sheet of paper, my handwriting had started out smooth and easy, flowing from smooth and easy thoughts, illuminating the words I wouldn't be able to speak. I wrote about how much I loved my daughters. I wrote to Mia about things she would face in life that would be difficult -- painful -- but that would eventually help her grow into a strong and capable young woman. I explained how deeply I loved her, how desperately I wanted -- right then -- to see each expression on her face and feel each bone in her body to prove to myself that she'd been real and perfect. Not just a figment of my exhausted brain's imagination. I wrote about how blessed I felt for being allowed the privilege of learning to be her mother. My throat constricted when I imagined her without me, but I would not cry. It would tire me out too much to cry.

The words took up so much space on the page that they became cramped and contorted towards the bottom. The effort drained me. Shuffling around for a second sheet of paper, I thought to take a break for awhile...to regain my strength. But I knew that if I paused, my chance would be over, my time would be up, and the ones I loved most wouldn't have any piece of me left to hold on to.

I wrote on, this time to Lauren. I tried to explain how lovely she was and how fully I'd adored her. Her being the younger one, I was terrified that she'd grow up not remembering how much love I showered upon her precious head, every moment of the day. I needed her to understand how much I'd cherished her, and how I'd planned years and years for us to get to know each other. I wrote to her about the way she buried her head in my neck when she was nervous or sick, and how much I loved the way her hair felt against my cheek. I wrote about the lullabies she requested night after night, spelling out the words so she'd maybe maybe be able to hear my voice in them. Even if the words were more and more scribbled, less and less legible, I wanted her to have them.

And my husband. I searched for a third sheet of paper. Not only were my hands worn out now, but my arms as well. The desire to just...sleep...washed over me in dusky, quiet waves. My head searched for a place to lay, but it was as if my hands were in control now. With heavy eyes and slow breath, I moved the pen across the paper, barely knowing what was being written. I hoped it was something wonderful. Something magical that Justin could look at and know what I was writing. Although my love was pouring over the blank sheet, I could no longer move it into a recognizable form. But I kept going. It was important that he see my love...my gratitude...my passion. I knew he would understand. I knew he would cherish it.

The muscles that had been controlling my body stopped working. The pen was perched in my loosening grip, its ink still ready, still available. But my words were over. With the weight of my children fresh in my mind -- their silky hair...their round cheeks...their warm arms -- and the memory of my husband's breath on my neck, I closed my eyes. I rested. I was gone.

And then...

Music tumbled from my alarm clock.

I woke up with tears in my eyes.

17 comments:

  1. Tears in your eyes? Right now I have tears dripping down my NECK. I would comment about how beautiful and moving and wonderfully written this is...but I have to go, you know, wake my baby up from her nap to squeeze her frantically for about a year or so...

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  2. Wow, you are an incredible writer! What a deep dream. I wake with tears on my pillow sometimes too. It shakes me for the day but is a great reminder to love life.

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  3. Oh, no! I hate dreams that make me wake up with tears in my eyes. Those are the dreams whose feelings are hardest to shake. I hope your morning has been cheerful enough to erase it...

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  4. Oh my gosh. That was lovely in a terrifying sort of way. I thought you were about to reveal some terrible news to use that you had only a few weeks left to leave. Is it too forward for me to ask you never to do that again? My heart is actually racing.

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  5. I agree with Dawn! I thought this was leading to some terrible news. Hug those babies extra tight today!

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  6. Okay, so I go out of town for a few days and when I get back, all excited to check in on you guys, I'm panic-stricken that you're about to announce that you were just diagnosed with some sort of terrible disease or something. I couldn't even read through the whole post at first! I had to stop for awhile and come back to it later. Yikes! What a description! What a dream! But, all's well in your waking life, right?

    (Oh, and just to get back at you, I'm totally going to write about the terrible dream I had in Egypt where someone was chasing me around and trying to snatch my baby, so...BEWARE!! :))

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  7. Lucy - Yeah, but you're hormonal. Your emotions are overflowing.

    Dawn - It's not too forward, but I can't promise anything. Well maybe this: If I ever AM actually dying, I won't be so sneaky about saying it, OK?

    Emily - I await your revenge with much anticipation :)

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  8. Oh, but in my defense everyone, I tried to make sure the title would let you in on the dreamy nature. Not a success?

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  9. Actually, I *did* appreciate the title. I kept clinging to its promise and urging myself to read on...

    Still, next time, let me suggest you title this kind of post something like: A Description of the Super-Vivid Dream I Had; or, Don't Worry, Emily, None Of This Is Real. What do you think? Good?

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  10. For you, Em, I'd title it like this: My Melodramatic Voyage To Dreamland -- Because If I Can't Be In Egypt, Dreams Are The Next Best Thing.

    Between the two of us, I'm sure we'll have the title market cornered.

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  11. Aww! Ditto to all of the above.

    And not to bring the mood down any more, but I think it's really good to actually write those types of letters. My husband has a letter that his parents wrote to him his senior year of high school. After his mother passed away last spring he found the letter and he rereads it every so often. I think it's really brought him some comfort.

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  12. At least your bad dreams are sweet. I woke up once jerking my neck away from a knife! It took a moment for the resulting muscle spasm to die down. And for my heart to stop racing...

    Anyway, I'm really glad your account ended with an alarm clock!!

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  13. Ohhh, that title should have clued me in. But I was too drawn in, thinking about horrible that would be.

    Beautiful, beautiful story.

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  14. I actually do write a letter to each of my children every year on their birthday, you've just inspired me to start writing them for my husband too.

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  15. PHew. I bet you were drained after that dream!

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  16. This was so painful to read. Your writing amazes me. You really are putting out some terrific stuff these days.

    My dreams are never this meaningful. They always involve total weirdness, like, my having to walk home 13 miles from school and I forgot to get dressed that morning. Never as profound as what you described here. Thanks for sharing!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?