I wake up from a dream, in which I receive a piece of paper that contains the following sentence: You are one with death. Morbid, I know. But also, beautiful. So, I go meditating on this and an image of a candle comes into my mind—and the idea that when my life blows out, maybe “I” am really the wick, joined into infinity, that sea of nothingness that is actually everything.
During J’s Spring Break, I get stuck going down a water slide. Yes, this actually happens, because, 1) I am at Disneyland with the fam, trying to be a fun person, who does not only spend my free time pondering death, and 2) I forget how this is done and make the mistake of sitting up on the water slide, causing lost momentum and requiring the most awkward slow-motion-butt-scoot ever—as water rushes past me—until I finally start sliding again. Somehow, I even end up with a gash on my spine from the event, which requires band-aids for several days.
But, walking up to the water slide, I get to hold C’s hand and see him smile and go down after him. “Is this okay for adults?” I make sure to ask the ten-year-old lifeguard at the top. She smiles and says yes. Well okay then, here goes. It is worth it, even days later, as I keep, accidentally, reopening the back wound, every morning, with my thumb nail, when I am fastening my bra. Sometimes, the ride is just that much fun.
Our one big day at Disneyland, we go on the merry-go-round (C’s favorite), the Matterhorn (J’s favorite), the Peter Pan ride (my favorite), and watch the Star Wars 3D show (D’s favorite?). We eat cotton candy and have brunch with Minnie Mouse and watch the light parade and the fireworks. I love hearing C’s thoughts after the rides: “It was fast!” “I was like woa!” “Darth Vader said stop!” and experiencing J’s excitement, his little arms hugging me fiercely after Space Mountain. I also have a moment, while in line at Pirates of the Caribbean, when I kiss D, feeling thankful to be in this life with him, his energy and solidness and partnership—the foundation of everything that is love and that is real.
However, sometimes, I cannot always see this, and I make life more convoluted than it needs to be. For example, I suggested we make this trip a surprise for the kids, even though I hate surprises. Why would I do this? I think I was hoping I could be, if I pretended hard enough, someone I was not—a cartoon version of myself who LOVES surprises. But of course, this never works, and somehow, I end up mad at D about it. About a week after secretly planning, I ask him angrily, “Why can’t we just tell them?” even though, again, the whole surprise thing was my idea. And, when I embarrassingly start to cry into my morning paper about it, he looks perplexed.
Surprise or not, it is a special time. On our last night, we stay in, cozy in our hotel room, eating burgers and French fries in bed, watching cartoons. It is so ordinary and yet, illuminated—an ultraviolet light onto the invisible—flames burning, wicks connected and intertwined together, forever, with all of everything—loved, lovable, loving.
When I was little, I thought about death and the sudden thought of nothingness made me feel animal-like terror. I carried around a tiny wool pouch with Worry Dolls the size of thumbnails inside, made of wire and colorful fabrics. I kissed them and made homes for them out of old cough drop containers and tucked them into their minuscule paper beds at night. When I was old enough to go on roller-coasters, I stitched them to the insides of my pocket so they would not fall out. I believed they kept me safe, and maybe they did.
There is a reason I do not like surprises. And this makes me feel broken. And in fear of being discarded. So, I pretend a little bit. Until I can no longer, these parts ricocheting out in unstoppable ways, like sun rays through the clouds. But, when I raise my arms in surrender, D is always still there, loving me, bringing me in even closer. I let myself fall into his arms—and, suddenly, a memory flashes through my mind of him, at the beginning of us, tapping at the front door, every night, to see me, because he did not want to be away, even in sleep. I let myself believe that his love is real, not something that will ever evaporate in a single poof. And I understand that it is myself that I am most afraid of, who creates this false threat of abandonment, and I go towards this.
I integrate a mishmash of spirituality and attention and awareness and thoughtful slowing down, and this helps me to process and be curious and a little removed, in order to escape my inner prison and experience what is real. I practice letting my emotions loosen their grip—my tears fall but then pass, fear burns then fades away. I am still engaged in the world, but do not let the stories wrap themselves around me, cutting off my circulation or ability to see and hear and be. In this way, maybe I am more involved in life, touching realness, discovering deeper layers of love—looking into D’s eyes and my own and knowing they are the same—feeling and believing into those places inside that have tasted this truth and are satiated.