The father had gone missing and I couldn't stop checking my facebook feed to monitor his safety.
As if, by checking, at 4:00a, I could will him to return.
I was at least three degrees separated from the situation, but it bore a hole into my heart.
My daughter's friend's father had gone missing and, naturally, it led me straight back to 1965.
When my 17-year-old birth mother had to leave.
And to 1981 when that same mother got into a car and drove away from her hollowed-out children (my half-siblings, not me; I had landed elsewhere.)
These complicated, terrifying, somehow better-than-the-other-thing chasms.
I've been away from my two youngest teens for two months. Not by choice. Thankfully, I found a new, superlative therapist.
That my teens are inserting distance into the distance (unless they aren't; they allow slivers of connection) makes it exponentially harder. It is, I remind myself, their job. This business of separation. Of individuating.
Of poisoned wells.
Pain = growth, I mantra.
Leading with my shoulder, I go to the nursing home. In this week's session, the seniors do a sing-a-ling with a bright yellow "SUNSHINE" songbook. Never mind that the Activities Center has no windows and they rarely get outside. I'll Be Seeing You, Glow Worm, Billy Boy. Songs like that.
A dozen or so residents, each in a wheelchair, around a long table. Like strollers, only wheelchairs. At once, sad and beautiful.
"Move over next to me, Annabel!"* shouts resident Marlene with her new salon-down-the-hall hairdo, "I want to hear you sing!"
Annabel, who sits each week with her soft hands folded and her paper-thin eyelids closed, next to her husband, Harold, remains serene but unresponsive to the request. The CNA (Certified Nursing Asst.) takes this as consent and wheels her around to the other side of Harold, next to Marlene.
The songs are loud. Because. Ya know. Annabel's eyes, nevertheless, remain closed. I'm seated directly across from her, when, during the tenth song, Loch Lomand, a haunting Scottish ballad, she beccomes illuminated from within, reaching over to caress Harold's hand, singing, a la songbird, each and every lyric with precision and surreal projection, eyes sealed shut, voice filling the room and our hearts.
"She was a soprano!" exclaims the all-knowing Marlene, "which is why I always ask her to come closer!"
She was and is, I thought, splendid and spectacular and temporarily residing in (not resigned to) a wheelchair.
Not to be discounted, like the father ... or the mother ... who went missing.
*no real names here, per usual.