I always wake at dawn. I lie and watch the sky go through its metamorphosis from black to pink to palest grey. Then my conscience pricks and I drag myself to vertical. I struggle to claim my slippers, strewn far from my reach, and so my day begins.
This morning in the quiet of my son’s apartment, I listened to the train and let myself linger beyond the sun’s calm rising. I thought about birthdays. My father would be 84 today but it is also my friend Penny Thieme’s birthday. I’ll leave her age a secret for her to reveal, but she’s on the far side of life’s learning curve and feeling fabulous. She rocks her silver hair, her shining smile, and her sassy attitude.
I think my mother’s father died on this date in 1985. I know he lived four months longer than she did, and died right after Christmas. That year whipped me. I spent the majority of it intoxicated or trying to get sober enough to drive to St. Louis. In the top ten list of my worst years ever, 1985 lingers in the upper five.
Only four more days remain until 2017 draws me into its potential. The faces of people who still cherish me hover nearby. I linger in the glow of their love and encouragement. But others whom I have lost through death, divorce, or distance beckon from the shadows.
The trains roll by, one after another. The unrelenting noise in my ears rises to a crescendo. My coffee cools. I contemplate the confluence of shadow and light. I ask myself, which has the stronger call?
It’s the twenty-seventh day of the thirty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.