My house lays still with asleep, of course, because it’s midnight and our children are young and we live a life of early mornings and quiet nights. I am awake because I watched a good movie and painted my nails, ate a few Oreos and drank a glass of freezing cold milk. Now all of the lights are off. I have whispered I love you over my sleeping son and daughter, tucked his feet away from the crib slats and adjusted his blankets, turned off her night-light and brushed back her curls with my fingers. Sam is asleep too, our duvet already kicked off the bed, his body warm with sleep. It’s cool outside, so our windows are open and the ceiling fans are on, each turn of the blades pulling in the night air and making the house smell more and more like outside, like grass mulch and smashed plums dried to the warm sidewalk, like clean water, like summer air that heats up so quickly each morning.
My house lays still with sleep and I want to remember this moment, so I’m writing it. Here is a moment, I say to myself. When Clara is still two. When Sammy is still one. When our house is still small. When our lives have not yet shifted with a new season, when we are still here, together, the four of us under one roof and one starry summer night, our lives tightly wound around each other like string on a spool. Things will change; I know that. The kids will grow up. We will buy a different house. Tragedies will come, healing will follow. I can’t help but think of all this because I am a person who feels very much, very deeply, and the pain of this world has an easy way with making me panic. I worry, you know? I worry about my kids, I worry about your kids, I worry about our parents, I worry about my friends, I worry about my future. I worry about tragedy. I worry about injustice. I worry about what people think about me, what my face is doing as I age, what my work will mean in the end.
And all of these feelings, so constant and close to the surface, often paralyze me. I don’t write. I don’t answer my phone. The anxiety consumes me. I told my friend Cassidy the other day that in my most irrational moments, I wish I never had children because if for some terrible reason they die, I will die a thousand deaths after.
It is scary to love.
It is scary to be known.
The most effective maneuver I know, in this life of pain and worry, is to pray. There is a simple kind of prayer that I am learning, lately, and it is merely to pay attention.
The bad stuff is loud. It is frightening. It is real.
But the good stuff is too.
The good stuff is real. And it’s happening. All the time.
This moment, right here? With three hearts beating in three sleeping bodies, three dreamers just a few steps away from me, three people I love in such an expansive manner that it actually changes my very being?
This is the good stuff.
I pray by paying attention and saying thank you. I pray by opening my eyes and letting the good shine like it should, letting the light wash over me and through me, and saying thank you. I will remember this.
Fresh air settles around me as I write by this open window. The ceiling fan clicks with each rotation, a breezy rhythm above. I am tired, and pressed to pay attention, insistent with myself that I remember this moment of good. And quiet. Full with midnight wonderings, full with contentment and full with an ache that knows
not all will always be well,
yet may all be well with my soul.
pay attention, jessie.