The little Bluetooth speaker filled my tiny house with music as I worked. Sorting laundry first; then I attacked the clutter which can make 200 square feet seem small and inconvenient. My movements became more brisk throughout the morning. The pleasure of accomplishment spurred me forward. But then: My hand knocked against a jade plant. Its pot shattered to the floor. I could have cried.
Years ago, I had a wine bottle shaped like a heart. I rooted a philodendron in water and kept the bottle on a ledge in my shower. Around the same time, my sister Joyce fell ill. I started taking care of her daughter Lisa, with the thought that I could assume guardianship if worse came to worse.
I took Lisa to the zoo one nearly perfect spring morning. I acted as I believed a mother should, competent and calm. I framed my directions in words of cooperation. I provided treats but in moderation. I put sunscreen on her cheeks and dabbed her forehead with ice-water when she seemed flustered. I rented a stroller to push her past the seals. I felt invincible. Then rain began and I dashed to the car, holding my niece’s little hand, urging her forward.
By the time we got home, Lisa had grown cranky. She whined about needing a drink, her mother, lunch, to use the toilet. I hoisted her on my hip, struggling on wobbly legs into the bathroom. I skittered to a halt, frozen, horrified.
The rising wind had tumbled the heart-shaped bottle to the tile, scattering shards of amber glass entwined with wilted greenery. I stood in the afternoon gloom, thinking of the man who had brought me the wine which the broken bottle once held. I remained immobilized in the doorway until Lisa began to whimper. I shook my head, then gently lowered the child onto the dining room carpet and went to get a dustpan.
After a difficult February, March offers an interlude in which my soul yearns to heal. I’m back from the land of misbegotten days, where the rubble of the broken heart lies forgotten in a heap of trash.
It’s the second day of the sixty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.