The tremors start in your mother’s small hands. You are in the middle of a packed ballroom. Her pupils are dilated. They look like Lindsay’s did last Fourth of July when she was on MDMA and you thought the black had swallowed the blue for good. “Mom, we gotta go.” You stayed too long, you let too many people hug her, you should have left ten minutes ago. She can’t stand. She reaches for her water and looks at you in time to see you see her miss the glass.
The house is empty so you lay in the living room to wait for Dad to come home from umpiring. Mom on the couch, you on the floor. There’s something comforting about the floor, about a surface that refuses to soften against you. If Hannah were here she’d tell you that’s a metaphor for the kind of boys you date.
The daffodils on the dining room table have died a brown death overnight. It’s the small moments of cliche that mock you: the ER nurse who tells you that your smile matches your mother’s, and now these comically dead flowers. “I get it, she’s dying, and so is everything else,” you say to the cat, a cliche yourself, slouching in Uggs in the kitchen.
You are angry that this narrative is so common, that these moments, this cadence of dying, is so recognizable. This month Oprah is using your favorite Mary Oliver poem for the title of a magazine photo shoot. What would you do with your one wild and precious life? As if you have a choice to choose how you are wild or if you are precious or when you are fierce.
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began.