Today has been, so far, a pretty good day. After a week of being bedridden with some kind of medieval disease I swear I thought had been eradicated from modern society, I’m finally up and about, wearing actual non-pajama clothes to the grocery store. The weather’s been so nice that I have the skylight in my office cracked open and for once, the neighbor’s seven-pound hound from hell isn’t yapping. The furniture company finally refunded me for my damaged chair, and seriously, you guys, I am eating the best sandwich ever.
My having a good day isn’t wholly uncommon. I love my life with the ferocity of a puma chasing another puma. Trust me, pumas love to chase other pumas. However, I’m always wary of April. It hasn’t exactly been kind to me in the past. April is a 30-day battle scar I must endure annually, and from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I’m filled with a distant sense of catastrophe.
When you lose someone you love, the first effect you feel is a chasm in your life. There’s a voice that doesn’t answer your calls, a phone that rings forever. There’s a half-gone glass of milk on the end table and the DVR is set to record a show that won’t be watched in death. Clothes that won’t be worn. And your life is still trying to act around this wound; everything you do is empty and strange. The first time you hear a new song on the radio, you’re outraged and frightened that time is passing, that the world is filling with new sounds all the while.
And then, bit by bit, the chasm forms a scar tissue. It smoothes over and it leaves a rivulet on the skin. It becomes a scar that you don’t think about every day. There’s guilt when a whole day passes in which you don’t acknowledge it, but that too will dull down. April is my month of scars, as has been the case for six years now. I distract myself, I cry unprovoked, I turn sullen, I remember.
Another thing happens every April. Ants march out of my garbage disposal. I’ve lived in three different places over the last six years, and this has happened to me every spring. I find one of the cats chirping as he follows a little black cavalcade from the sink, down the cabinets, across the kitchen floor. I’ve tried everything to be rid of them, from catching them and letting them loose outside, to vacuum cleaners, to cloths soaked in vinegar. But ants are a curious thing. Attack their little colony, and they scatter, but immediately return. Stomp on their little hills, and they rebuild.
Here’s the part where I get saccharine and tell you that grief turns us into ants. A kid with a magnifying glass burns our world. A giant cat swipes at us. We get disrupted and then we’re left to deal with the casualties. Living becomes an act of defiance.
Today has been one of the more defiant days. I’m under a bright sun, and my head is full of ideas, and every day the radio is filling the world with new songs while I write new things and try to fill the world with new books. We’re resilient things, whether or not we want to be. There are days for rain clouds and umbrellas and bad poetry, of course. But then there are days when you pull out of your driveway, and the road goes on before you, dotted with white, and it really feels like you’ll live forever.