Family and Relationships
Please understand: the external metamorphosis comes only at the very end, after a long, sustained effort. There is a lot of inner work you have to do before then. Also there is luck involved.
Do I need to go into what turns an eleven-year-old into such a stoic: embarrassed to be sentimental, determined to be detached?
Before we was married, we rented a little townhouse in Dallas. My girls was with us. They from my first marriage. Nate come to us when my baby girl was barely a year old. He latched on and took us all like we was his, and I didn’t see all the love in that.
One winter, years ago, a stray cat lived under my rear deck. He was long and skinny and had a tattered gray coat, a whip tail, a block head, and a set of elephant nuts that hung low off his hind end. He survived by eating scraps of leftover food my mother threw to the birds. The sight of him disgusted me.
To distract myself from the fact that my dog is dying, I check the headlines. This is August 2017, so the news is not good, but it keeps my gaze from drifting over to my dog’s curled-up body, trembling on his bed in the corner. In a lot of ways, reading the news is like watching my dog die, just easier to bear.
I was twenty-six, working full time at the Bagelry in suburban Chicago, avoiding the future. The future did not seem like anything you could count on. Even in suburban Chicago, where Public Works employees smiled while scraping up roadkill, people were unhappy, desperate to convince themselves of something good. Desperate.
When my father died, he left two letters in separate envelopes, both marked “To be opened at my death.” One is addressed to my brother and me. The other is to his wife.
The goat became my charge during my third week in rehab. My counselor, Victoria, suggested I browse the stuffed-animal collection at the clinic gift shop and select one to represent my inner child. “Care for it,” she told me. “Keep it safe. Treat your inner child as you would a baby bird that’s fallen out of its nest.” She cupped her hands, as if to cradle a tiny chick.