Mr. Curry gets home and I am a soaking wet washcloth dripping over the side of the counter. I am the washer's white cottony teeth thumping in steel and paint against the dryer. I am the tipped dog bowl. I am the dripping faucet. I am the half opened microwave, the damnit toe, the i'm sorry i cursed again burning of fingers like pink fat sausys through the holes of the over gloves: each glove has one hole. Ever runs to him shrieking Daddddy as if she read the book on the best things about having children and will follow, point by point, beginning with her fat little booty and so far ending with her fat little arms wrapped round our necks, her sweet baby breath against our cheek as she whispers I love you soooo much. Lola sprawls on the couch like a colt. I see her only in mustang metaphors lately: she is long legged, gangly, a bit unsure on her feet but picking up speed, glorious in youth, vitality, radiant with the beauty of young wild things. Her enormous blue eyes, the color of denim tucked just underneath.
Days were confusing and short and long this week. Since Michelle died I think of her constantly. I was not close with her and yet I think of her constantly. How could I not? She was sweetness, she was good, she was a young mother, she was put through hell and then taken. I am the person who quit my job because I could not be five feet away in a different room from my Ever. To leave, forever... all week I have made mistakes with my children borne of human reason- on the whole, sleep deprivation due to two sick girls, myself being sick, Ever regressing with the amount of nursing. Just tired, tired, tired. The feeling of a circus. The voices of Ever and Lola asking, asking, asking, the dogs guilting me with their not walked eyes, the messy rooms, the burnt dinner, my side, back ribs hurting, normal things that lack of sleep stirs with crazy fingers and makes inscrutable: what is anyone saying? when do i get to sleep? The spirit wants to be good, free of suffering. and calm. The body wants what it wants: sleep, sex, food, air, touch. Michelle has died. I walked into Target with Lola, Ever and Dakota early this week and the big bright T A R G E T filled me with consumer dread and horror: we do die, despite trips to Target, despite pretzels with cheese, good movies, laughing until we drool, orgasms, drunken nights, weeping, ice water, foot rubs, the perfect shoe, manicures, the grocery aisles. I felt the assumed burden of the living: live better because you are alive and they are not. As a theory we hear this our whole lives. In reality, when we care for when we love someone and they die, we feel a deep sense of carrying their particular loss into our living. Michelle cannot go to Target with her children and buy bread and a yellow wind up duck from the dollar aisle. Ever again. Maybe she hated Target. Maybe she was phobic about ducks. But surely, she would trade anything to have more moments with her family. I sat in my closet tonight before her viewing, crying. I was a little afraid. I've never been to a viewing alone. Mr. Curry had to stay with the kids. I imagined Michelle hovering over me and wondered what she would think. You are pathetic. Get up! You're alive. That's what I came up with, and I got up and got dressed and went to the viewing.
I keep seeing her face in my mind as she was before she was sick, and I never even knew her then, only pictures of her, big bright smile, bright light blue eyes, big eighties hair, a truly American face. You'd know she was an American girl from a mile away.
She's a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She's a good girl, crazy 'bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too
Mr. Curry gets home and I curl into his arm and neck and the smoky, warm scent of hard work comforts me. The house takes a step back and the oven mitts fold their hands. For one moment, I am alive and I am in the arms of someone who loves me more than anything. For one moment, the voices of our children do not need to be understood or responded to. They simply sing behind us as we hold each other, and prepare for another evening of doing what is in front of us to do, with all the love we can do it with.