From time to time, of an evening, I stand in front of my medicine cabinet quite distracted. The reason for my irritation lies behind the mirror, not in front of it. Five or six bottles rest on the shelf. The pills in them sustain, if not my life, then such quality as it has. And so, because they do, I resent the reach that I must make to take each one down in turn and shake their little bullets from the tube. But shake I must, and shake I do.

I meant to say some stunning words about the total eclipse of the Sun. Like everyone else, I jumped into a car and drove until I stood beneath the very spot where the sun would go dark just past one. I saw it too, despite the clouds which gathered overhead and the burst of rain which sent us diving into the vehicle in which we’d come so far. The rain stopped, the wind died, and the sun emerged from behind a wicked little cloud. We stood transfixed, camera raised, welder’s glass before our eyes protecting us from certain blindness. And when the earth went dark beneath the vanished orb, a cry arose, none the least from us.

I would have posted a picture, had I told that story. But then, the day wore on, and other places drew us. Now, in the dark of my room, with the wind battering the eaves, I stand in front of that terrible mirror and its horrible hidden offerings. The resentment which I often feel cannot be described. At least, I cannot describe it, mostly because of the shame I feel.

For who am I to harbor disdain for the drugs which keep me walking? How is it that I sneer at the two minutes of effort required to take those pills? The fact that I can still lift my body tall enough to hold my own gaze in the mirror should teach me not to resent the very medicine which keeps me standing. By now, I should be well able to forgo complaint especially for such a blessing.

Late this day, as my dear friend and I drove South, we took a detour which told me all I needed to know in order to reach and take those pills. I had thought that the sight of the total eclipse of the sun was the starkest and boldest that I had ever beheld. And then I stood and looked upon one last sight for the day. Not one, not just one, but 36,085. And counting. Never will I need another reminder of my good fortune.

It’s the 21st day of the 44th month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.

Leavenworth National Cemetery

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