I sleep best when the rain is
falling. The world is reduced to a small center—the rain, the sound of my son’s
oxygen supply making it to his lungs & heart, the purr of whatever wet cat
has decided to curl up against my back, the snuffles & settling of the
aging, valiant pitbull..these keep me lulled at the heart of a seemingly safe
For me, because I am one of
the lucky ones, the rain is outside. And it is a warm rain. I close down that
part of my mind that worries about the people who are sleeping under the
freeway bridge or in their car, in the makeshift camps, or huddled in doorways.
I sigh & turn back to my dreams, in which I wander strange cities and look
for my children.
Gabriel, whose oxygen makes a
reassuring white noise against the night—Gabe in particular gets lost in my
dreams. Or he teeters in some precarious place, at the windowsill of a building
in a surreal city full of statues and trees. I call to him to be careful. To
Sometimes I wake with my own
heart pounding, desperate to catch a falling child, to block a dangerous
passage, to light a dark corridor.
These dreams are obvious, and
my anxieties reasonable enough. If your child has a heart condition—well, yeah,
this permeates your sleep, even if the rain gentles things, even if you have
learned to go day by day through a busy & distracted life. Even if your
answers to “how are you?” is always the expected, placid, “fine, and how are
Because—really, how can you
say “I live each day balancing a fine line between terror and love”? Or “let me
tell you the truth; sometimes I want to fall to my knees and howl”?
And when the world crowds
in—when you watch, in live time, the bullets in Kiev and the brave souls
standing in the snow; when you hear from friends in all corners of the world
and the news is heartbreaking and complicated, when the smiling woman right in
front of you tells you she hasn’t eaten in three days and in one week you meet
family after family who is hungry, right here in the seemingly prosperous
little town you live in, and a little girl whose dancing eyes don’t let on that
she is without shelter, because, after all, she has the shelter of her mom’s
arms. But you see her oldest brother, and..he knows. And you wish so much that
you could make everything better, everything okay, and you know you
cannot…well, how do you go on, in those waking hours when the rain doesn’t
enclose you? And what do you do?
When I was a little child, I
learned that my reality is not necessarily that of other people, so I don’t
promise you that what gets me through the day and night will help you in the
But here goes:
Don’t get distracted, except
when it feeds your soul. Know what is key to you, be that your desire to finish
a novel (writing or reading) or your need to save All The Polar Bears.
Do what you can. No, don’t
put that off…is there a letter to write, something to learn, a garden to plant,
a person to feed, a language to learn? Time is short, do it.
Get very distracted. When
everything seems to be weighing you down, just let go of that. Remember what
you enjoyed when you were four? Random movies? Climbing trees? Being bratty?
Running with your dog? Do that a while.
Hold your space. Dreams take
a while to grow..the good ones, not those nightmares you chase. Honor your need
to have a little space for them.
Only connect. Yeah, you are
human, open your heart a bit and listen.
Breathe. Oh, do remember to
Plant some seeds.
And yeah, go ahead and cry.
Your eyes might be clearer for that.
We’re only here a moment,
don’t worry, all the stars are not falling down, and if they are…well, you are
part of that too.