Several weeks before everything shut down for the pandemic, I had a little cavity filled at the dentist . . . and there ended up being just a tiny bit of "roughness" that would catch the dental floss every time I flossed my teeth. Not a big deal, certainly. But an annoyance. I made a quick appointment to have it smoothed out at the same time I was due in for my next cleaning at the end of March. Canceled, of course.
So I finally got in to get that little "roughness" smoothed out . . . a couple of weeks ago.
While I was waiting to go in for my appointment, masked-up and alone in my little distanced area of the waiting room, a mother came in with three kids -- all ready for their annual check-ups. There was a big brother, who was probably 8 or so, and a little sister who looked to be about 5, and a baby brother being carried by his mother in a front-pack. (I'm gonna guess he was 12-15 months old; probably walking - but needing to be "contained.") Everyone - except the baby brother - was in a mask, of course. And these kids were beautifully behaved. They sat still and quiet and waited, looking at books they had brought in with them. Nobody fussed or whined.
Except the baby brother.
He was fussing and agitated. He wanted to be in a chair with his big brother and sister. He wanted to be free of the front pack.
(Or so I thought.)
You know what he really wanted?
His face mask!
As soon as his mother put on his tiny, toddler-sized face mask . . . he calmed down. He wanted to be like his siblings, darn it. He wanted his mask on, too.
And then I was called in to get my rough edge smoothed out. But I was comforted by the scene I'd just witnessed.
It gave me hope!
Why? Because to these kids (including the baby brother) wearing masks is . . . just what is happening right now. It's just another of those things we need to do to keep ourselves and each other healthy. An inconvenience, but workable. Even for young children.
The kids are alright.
And that gives me hope.
And, because it is Friday and Fridays still seem to be for poetry around here, here is a poem for you.
The Thing Is
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold your life like a face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.
This poem reminds me that even when we think we just cannot, we usually find a way to keep going. Dig deep, my friends. Keep looking for hope in the dark spaces.
My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.)
Don't forget to look for hope.
Today's poem was published in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson, 2017, Grayson Books. Information about the poet can be found here.