I ask Ralph to slow down – “or pull over,” I amend. I feel so ill I’m almost certain I will vomit.
He pulls into a boat launch; the kids make faint, empathetic noises as I exit the car. I place my daughter’s just-now-finished band concert blazer on her lap, and close the car door, walk over to the edge of the clearing. Under a grove of trees and I hear something up high – a small nest of baby birds, perhaps? Three magnificently large fungi adorn one of the birch trees, about twelve feet up. I focus on these and breathe through my nose. There isn’t enough fresh clean air to calm my aching head, to soothe that sickness that roils in my chest.
Soon we are back on the road as my illness, though still with me, is manageable. In the passenger-side window my skin looks terrible; rough, pallid, green. I focus on the words Ralph says; I ask about his day.
We’re installed on bleachers to watch the end-of-year music concert for my daughter’s school. My daughter looks so adult; she shakes her hair, black and teal, out of her face. When did she get so grown? She has the most animated, happy face of the children there. She is wearing a bit of eyeshadow and slumps slim and sophisticated in her black suit. She is so gorgeous. It’s like on one hand I understand when people say she looks like me but on the other hand I watch her from far off and I think How can she be so beautiful? Maybe when she is up close I worry about feeding her and parenting her and caring for her and getting her new socks. And when I see her in the crowd it’s like a wild thing, something precious. I used to call her Creature, and it wasn’t kind when I did. But now she’s a Creature, a sense of humor, a quick wit. She never turns away from a hug from me, and she returns the embrace with such presence and tenderness; one of those blessings money can’t buy.
It is time for her band performance. Her slide positions on the trombone are swift and decisive. She is focused but not tense. I am glad to watch, sitting here swaying in overcrowded bleachers, despite being ill I am glad I made it here. I know I don’t have to do anything but pay attention. That, I can do.
We leave earlier than my son would like; he has found friends on the playground. He shouts at us that we have to go home. We’ve a dinner to prepare, laundry to wash, pets to feed and love up on.
I’m tired; but sleep with come eventually.
Tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow!