The Body Knows
Easter Sunday 2017. We are headed home from the Berkshires where we spent the night at my childhood country house. We always just called it "the country" which now makes me smile, and seems a very "city" thing to say. Now that Dad is gone, I refer to it - to the girls - as Mom's country house, which got wonderfully morphed years ago to "Moo Moo's crunchy house." Too good.
When we pulled into the driveway yesterday afternoon, I felt my whole body tense up and my mood darken. I became quiet, snappy. We unloaded our things and the girls took off running in the vast fields. Seeing them free and wild lifted me some.
In those moments, I was only partially aware of what was happening. My body was remembering. And the memories were a keen mix of good and bad, transcendant and tough.
This was where I spent my childhood weekends, where I learned to shoot a basketball, where I ate Mom's eggs and Dad's bacon, and banged on pots and pans on so many New Year's Eves.
This was also where Dad came alive. Where he woke up early to write in his decoy-filled study overlooking the fields, where he stored his best red wine and listened to his jazz music.
This is also where he spent his last Easter, where we all spent his last Easter. It was also his 66th birthday and I gave him a manuscript of my first novel he'd finish reading (and not love) weeks before his death. That weekend was a turning point. He was in pain. He didn't eat Mom's ham and cream sauce, though it was always his favorite. I looked at him and I knew. Later that week, he was admitted to the hospital. Not much after, we learned that his cancer had spread, that there was no more that the doctors could do.
So: memories. An endless, humbling stream. And my body knew before my mind did. It is often this way.
But the hours passed and I felt myself unclenching, accepting. We had good family time, a nice meal (even though hubby and I only sipped smoothies because of this silly, sublime cleanse), lots of laughter. We reminisced and also looked ahead. We sifted through relics in the house and talked about the changes to come. We were doing it. Making new memories. This is the way it works.
Life marches on.
And the girls. Our gleeful creatures. They ran and ran, their long legs pumping and dirty-blond hair whipping behind them. They played with Mom's dogs and my sister and her boyfriend's sweet brother cats. They slept last night snuggled up, all three in a row, in the red bedroom I shared with my own little sisters when we were young. And they woke up this morning and stormed down the stairs to find goodies in their baskets from a certain bunny. Then we all headed outside and watched them scamper around in their pajamas looking for eggs and shiny wrapped chocolates, just as my sisters and I once did.
I took a thousand pictures. I was happy. I wanted to remember.
When we packed up to head home not long ago, my littlest was in tears. She didn't want to leave. When I asked why, she said she loves playing with Moo Moo and her dogs. She loves the country. They all do. And this amazes me, and humbles me. It's as if their little bodies know how important this place is, how it holds their history. It does.
It's a bright blue sky day and we make our way home. We stop at the car wash in Great Barrington. This is something we used to do with Dad. Full-circle moments, tricky and amazing, abound, tweaking and testing body and mind. The music in our car blares. Pop. The girls know every word and I know most. We sing along and bop around in our seats.
In this moment, we are all here, free, alive, together.