Long Night’s Journey Into Day

The wind howls around my house, rattling the shades through the open windows. I watch the digital numbers on the computer’s clock click through, struggling to focus on all those clumsy little rituals that people pursue to get themselves ready for the work day. Outside, the dog paces in the yard. We both know that a storm brews.

Around midnight, I finally managed to log into the patient portal for Stanford and read the note from the Infectious Disease people. I’d sent a status update yesterday. The biggest benefit of what we call The Stanford Miracle has been my ability to fall and stay asleep. That has eroded over the last month, leaving me tense and unhappy by daybreak. What this portends, only the West Coast gurus might be able to opine.

The long night’s journey into day has given me hours in which to fret about the future. I’m not complaining, though. A lot of the lessons which recently coalesced need refinement. The litany of griefs that others have voiced against me might finally be resolved. Should I have done what each asked, over the years of struggling to skirt around discarded land mines? Would anything have changed?

Maybe not. I write those grievances on parchment, curl them, and let them afire. Their smoke drifts to the heavens and I let them go. I can’t promise that their ghosts won’t linger. The soot invades my lungs; I fan myself and take a deeper, cleansing breath.

Assume the pose. Ommmm.  Namaste.

In my favorite movie, When A Man Loves a Woman, the husband/dad/stepfather says goodbye to his two daughters after the parents divorce.  He visits each at school.  To his stepdaughter, he says, I’m sorry for all the kinds of daddy that I was or wasn’t ever since I met you.  That line kills me every time.  She forgives him.  She sobs and they embrace.  His birthdaughter  continues turning cartwheels as he tells her that he’s going away.  She takes his love for granted.

I’m the stepsister, the Cinderella, the slightly awkward girl who knows she can’t hold a candle to her younger, prettier sibling.  I don’t assume you’ll always be there, even if you think that I do. All my actions signal that I’m dancing as fast as I can, trying to be the beauty that you wanted.  I push my legs to walk straighter.  I tug at my unruly curls and pluck my eyebrows.  I shift my work to squeeze in a few extra hours to get the house clean.    I pack your lunch; I write to your teachers; I call the bully’s bluff.

In the unending dreariness of the midnight hour, I must concede that I knew my efforts would never be enough.

The wind rages and the rain threatens.  I sit beside the bedroom window and let the storm simmer.  I’m holding out for rainbows.  I know that even the loneliest, blackest night will eventually yield to sunrise.

It’s the seventeenth day of the forty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

The sun rises over Point Montara, California.


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