On Day Three Of NyQuill

December 8th, 2023

On Day Three Of NyQuill
By Bonnie Tarantino

On day three of NyQuil I have apocalyptic thoughts.
I wake up worried I may never hold a grandchild.
That cancer may find a way into myself or a loved one.
Or that maybe I won’t bother putting up a Christmas tree.

I write and write it all out, promising I won’t publish this one.
“Write it all out fearlessly, without pause, on the way into the abyss..”
I was taught.
Write..write..edit..edit…process..cry, clear…
Look… really look until you feel it, see it, hear it.
And always, if I am still, it is there, right there between my words…
the spectrum, the rainbow, the truth.
A patch of sun.
So I write again like a missel heading straight toward your heart.
Edit, edit. miss and miss the edits.
Will I miss your heart?
Then share too soon, publish too fast, hit post out of habit.
“Publish on the way out of the abyss”, I was taught
Never take them with you as you do your deep dive into the cave.
(And Bonnie someone else should always look over your work.)

But my cave is no longer the abyss it once was.
How can it be when there are patches of sunlight all over the house?
And a sleeping dog who has hardly gone outside as it
keeps vigil over me and my piles of covid filled tissues.
And family and friends keep texting and checking in.
“You good?” “Need anything?” “Sending Reiki.” “Love you so much”
There is cold chicken soup from my mom to warm when I am hungry.
And two more frozen in the freezer from a friend
who figured out how to send soup from Virginia.
And a pillow that keeps getting cold for my cheek.
How I can’t get enough of how perfect an aged soft worn sheet can be.
How great it feels to kick a naked leg out from the covers and straddle a cool new position for another nod off.

The house is quiet,
I wander.
How can I sit in the dark when
this bohemian living room is vibrant and pulsing with memories
Of all the people who have sat on the corner cushion of the couch
How many have shared, laughed, cried, sang, wailed, dreamed, heard the truth,
believed, healed and loved again.. and again?
And all this on one little couch.
And this is my third couch since being married.
All of them well worn with love and cuddles and safety and spills.

And I think maybe there will be a WWIII.
That the darkness will win
That scarcity and fear and lies will finally strangle love, beat it to the pulp.
That the tree of life will die
And with no bees to help it,
The last apple will fall,
There will be no Christmas trees to find.
And the earth will finally heal when it rids itself of
my paper towel and Zip lock bag addiction.

And then I touch the three Christmas cards that come in the mail
Slide my finger through the paper,
Make a mess of the edges as they crumble and rip.
Out comes a young family with children ages 1 and 3
Their pink faces full of laughter
Their parents full of love and hope with testimony of
An the ICU that, after many weeks, saved and healed their second son lungs,
and later that year saved and healed those children’s Grandfather’s precious heart.

And another card from one of my best friends who has made it to 90.
Who walked with Martin Luther King.
Who knows a shit show when she sees one and laughs the truth right in its face.
Who taught me how to face down a classroom.
Teach a room full of teens, then nurses, then doctors.
Turn the pen in my hand like a sword.

And another joyful card of two teenagers whose father left and
whose mother is a master healer and brave warrior.
I look carefully at their smiles again and decide that they look safe and relieved.
Their mother marched them all out the abyss, but she doesn’t know it or feel it yet.
Because sometimes the way in and way out of hell looks and feels the same.

So I step off the path of my slow march into the dark.
And dig for my file of Christmas cards,
The one with my children every Christmas
Standing still for a second
So I could get the shot
Not having to ask them to pretend to smile,
Because they know love
And love smiles easily.

And I decide for sure, at least for today,
That love is all that is ever or will be left
At the end of a civilization,
At the bottom of a NyQuill bottle.

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