Little One

Pigeonhole Press 2017 Originally published here.

Oh little one. Let me try to explain a perfect love to you. It might seem sad. That’s okay. It is a little but you’ll find that perfection in life always is.

You meet her. It is bliss. She’s beautiful, smart, funny. She knows you. You know her and know her truly. Monday morning exhaustion is a secret pride too rich to boast about.

Months go by, the moments together are joy. The moments apart, agony. Neither of you can go a full day of work without one of you texting or calling the other. At parties, you pat her knee. She rubs your back. You peck each other’s lips pushed by a need to reassure yourselves that this love, which seems too perfect for this all too frail world, is real.

This goes on for years. You marry. Your home is a happy one. Your children love you. You grow old and your love persists. You two are the example that everyone uses when defining a perfect relationship. You know this. You go grey together. You tease her about her flat old lady butt. She teases you back, you dirty old goat. You still peck each other’s lips and pet each other with worn, aching, beautiful hands. Hands that have entwined like tree roots for a half-century. You garden together. She, beside you, is pinching off the side shoots of the tomato plants while you weed the basil beds. At Christmas your house is full of the smell of roast turkey and the sound of laughing grandchildren, maybe even great grandchildren.

Then you wake up one morning, put in your dentures, slap on your glasses and go into the kitchen. When she doesn’t shuffle into the room, thank you for making coffee and kiss the top of your head to catch the spice of your scent, you call her name and return to the bedroom. You know when you see her face that she is dead. Already stiff from whatever broken organ or fallen cell that took her away from you. As soon as the body is put into the ambulance and you look at your home full of her emptiness, you suffer a stroke. Your body becomes instantly riddled with an aggressive cancer, which blithely eats away at your insides. Through the haze of cataracts, you see your family huddled about you. You want an end to your suffering, but nobody does a thing, because it’s the quantity of life they measure by, not the quality.

There it is, little one. The best you can hope for is to die shortly after your lover of 50 plus years. Maybe that’s sad, but I don’t think so. Even the less-than-best cases, you get for a time, however brief or extended, someone in whom you could pour your wishes and worries. There was a body next to yours 310 degrees warmer than the absolute loneliness of space. Having fifty plus years of that is stealing fire from god. Even a year is to spit in his eye.

Little one, go find those moments stolen from underneath god’s nose. Seek them with someone who understands that despite all the contempt and misery he has heaped upon this Earth that we ungrateful creatures can still know the perfection he denies us. Perfection is rare. It is unpredictable. It can’t be manufactured, boxed, marketed and sold buy-one-get-one-free. But, little one, notice. Pay attention. Remember those moments of perfection. Cherish them. Press them between the pages of your life together so that they are never forgotten. Then when the time comes to feel that warm weight of your new born and be overwhelmed by her tiny immensity, you’ll really understand.