The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Later today

Rachael Conlin Levy

There is a type of sadness that settles over my heart like fog rolling in slowly, casting quiet shadows and muting colors almost imperceptibly, so that my landscape is changed but unnoticed by me, like how I keep forgetting that the sky should be blue instead of gray.

I’ve had trouble staying warm lately, even when I wear two shirts, a fleece vest and wrap myself in a wool blanket. I’ve tried to warm myself by sitting in a patch of sunlight on the rare days it breaks through the clouds, but the light is pale and weak. It wasn’t until today that I wondered whether this chill was my sadness, cold and damp, hugging my shoulders, curling around my toes. 

I know what this is, I know we all manifest our stresses and anxieties in different ways. Right now, my mom has hives because she’s working so hard to be strong and positive as she cares for my dad. This sadness is why I can’t think ahead, because I can’t envision what is out there. I don’t know how to prepare myself or my children for what will come in three weeks when I see my parents at Christmas, in three months when my father’s chemotherapy is wrapping up, in three years.

The sweet thing about this sadness is how it contains a radiant and desperate joy that explodes out of me sometimes. I cry until I laugh. I run and the world spins under my feet. Tonight, I danced.

Marcel worked late, so the kids and I were alone for dinner. We made pizza, ate chocolate pudding for dessert, and then turned the stereo up loud and danced as we cleaned. Paper airplanes whizzed through the air, the littlest jumped about naked, having cut short his bath to join us in the kitchen. We danced to my children’s favorite songs — the Glee soundtrack, We Might Be Giants, Arlo Guthrie. I boogied until I was breathless and laughing, until I flopped on the floor, gulping for air, until I was warm and no longer sad.

3 responses to “Later today”

  1. anno says:

    When you're navigating narrow places, it's good to take every opportunity that comes your way to really stretch, laugh a little, hug. Glad you found a chance Friday night.

    So sorry to hear about your father; I hope for the best.

    Stay warm. That northwest damp can sink into the bones harder than any midwest deep freeze. It's a good excuse to drink all of your favorite hot beverages, make any of your favorite brothy soups, and, of course, it's a great excuse to dance…

  2. Rachael Levy says:

    Thank you, Anno. I like that … navigating narrow places … you're right, that's exactly what I'm doing. It reminds me of when I hiked up a narrow desert canyon in southern Nevada. It was evening and bats were coming out, the red stone walls radiated heat and rocks crunched beneath my feet. It was so quiet and warm.

  3. Breathless and laughing is a pretty great place to be.

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