what i have

After any loss, we fixate on the absent. I do this. I did this on Monday, when I first got the news that Pam had died. I’ve done it every moment since. I’m doing it now. I’ll do it tomorrow, zeroing in on everyone I ever lost.

They’re all there, gathered around a blazing fire pit in some grand backyard, having a high old time without me: My best friend. My husband. My sister. My father. My mother. My second mother. And so on. And so on. And so on.

But I can’t always focus on the departed, no matter how dear they are. I need to tally up my blessings here and now. And not just the good things; I have to include the annoying things, the meh things, even the bad things. Because when life shakes out in the end, whenever that end may be, the good and the bad will have muddied and merged, and we won’t know the difference — or we won’t care.

So, just for a moment, I’ll aim to be grateful for everything that put me here, keeps me here, makes me Amy, makes me sane.

What do I have?

I have my three children, indelible, spirited, compassionate and brave.

I have my family, so large and so loving, whether related by blood or not.

I have my friends: each of them individually; all of them as a whole; the possibility of new ones tomorrow.

I have a bad habit of apologizing too much for everything.

I have a foul mouth. You’re shocked by this revelation. I can tell. Sorry.

I have my health, my children’s health, my work, the food on my table, the money to spend on my kids. I have music, mine and everyone’s. And laughter. And movies. And art. And books. And travel.

I have this pissy circulatory condition that means minor appendages sometimes go numb in the cold. I have lots of wool socks, plus a habit of running hot water over my toes in the sink at a public restroom.

I have a bed. A house. A neighborhood. A city. A state. A country. A world. A sky above the world. A solar system. A cosmos. And all the dark matter that no one understands but fills creation, anyway.

I have the passage of time –- that’s a blessing, too, the way that each day ends and another one starts, eventually.

I have big legs with bad knees. Soccer.

I have a goldfish in the kitchen that no one likes, that poops too much, that has no name and that my daughter Jeanne even forgot existed.

I have a fondness for weirdness.

I have every single episode of every single iteration of “Star Trek” ever made available to me on Netflix at any moment.

I have an ability to bend my thumbs behind my knuckles.

I have too much dark chocolate. Then I don’t have enough. Then, to compensate for this unacceptable dearth, I again have too much.

I have a tendency to let crap stack up until I trip on it.

I have an appetite.

I have faith in a loving and luminous God. I also have NOOOOOO CLUE what this loving and luminous God is up to.

I have pretty good relative pitch.

I have a way of talking to myself, even when there are other people around, including my boss, that I publicly blame on the seven years I worked alone from my kitchen but privately acknowledge as a semi-creepy tic I developed in childhood.

I have a neighborhood band, although it’s more accurate to say we have each other.

I have a library walking distance from my house.

I have all the memories I made of those I love who’ve left me. I have the conviction that someday, somewhere, on a plane I can’t envision, with a joy I can’t predict, I’ll make more.

And I have hope.

12 thoughts on “what i have

  1. I’m sure pretty much anyone who’s ever met you will also say you have our undying admiration and respect. It’s a pain that the coolest people usually get that way by walking through the hottest fire, but there you have it. That’s life.

  2. Amy–Thank you especially for this post. This week I have felt unsafe in the world. So much because of all my departed family. I too envision them as a group…laughing, talking, looking at what Diane is up too, and I say, “Come on guys, give me a clue” but they are there and I am here, and I have to keep doing earth-bound life while they do….

    Thank you for this list. It helped me make mine.

  3. Thank you, Amy. Your strength, love, faith, and hope are inspirational, and not only in the face of the shit thrown into the fan blowing in your direction. You are not just inspirational as a writer, you are right here in the trenches with all of us. Even as your own grief washes over you, you are the unsinkable lifeboat supporting so many of us as we strive to deal with our own. You have such an eloquent, loving, and compassionate way of comforting your family, friends, and even complete strangers. Thank you for being in my life.

  4. Amy this is really beautiful. I cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. The world’s loss. Thank you. Laura (old Hamilton friend)

  5. Love, love, love. It’s just that simple. Thanks for writing what is aching in my heart. I too am so grateful especially when reminded by such suffering of friends, loved ones and family.

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