Right now, I have two letters open in MS-Word. One is a complaint to AT&T Wireless for suspending our service--even though we are not late in paying and have never been late paying a bill in ten years (I'm afraid of grown-ups and teachers and Santa Claus and God and I try to do everything right and I pay my bills!). The Professor is in China for an extended project and his cell phone is his lifeline. And AT&T suspends service? Without cause? Or notification? And here's another complaint letter to the yahoos, who installed our replacement windows. Looking out the window into our pretty backyard no longer is a small pleasure, because I have to look at these stupid windows and be reminded of the idiot I am. Also this week, I've fallen victim to the good ol' bait 'n switch with an online photo equipment merchant. I am having to jump through all the hoops: calls, emails, faxes, disputes with the credit card company, threats of complaints to the New York City Attorney General and so on and so on. And don't get me started on the wrong billings I am still receiving for Anna's visit to the hospital some two years ago. Just don't. (Just know, dear friends, that the Wall Street Journal reported that about 80% of medical bills are wrong. So double and triple check those suckers.) Anyway, this is the stuff of life that makes me my snarky, cynical, occasionally shrill self, where I question, occasionally aloud and to no one in particular, "Really? Seriously?"
And then on Saturday, a simply textbook bucolic Southern California spring day--sun shining, light breeze rustling the leaves, wildflowers blooming--I attended the memorial service for a ten-year old child. Not a child I knew at all, really. He was the younger brother of one of Jack's buddies. You know, just a kid, one of those a ten-year old kids who are around.
If I try and list my favorite things in the world, I'd probably have to put kids that age right at the top of my list. Is there anything better than a kid? Way above Yosemite and Paris and blue oceans and warm apple pie, my favorite things in this world are sandy, silly, nose-picking, shoe-scattering, fart-noise-making, snuggling, uninhibited, un-self-conscious. unpretentious, running-with-scissors, skinned-kneed, finding-poodles-and-frogs-in-clouds, Halloween-candy-hoarding, soccer-cleat-losing, stray-cat-petting, too-much-maple-syrup-pouring...kids. Kids you love with all your heart. "And I love you, too, Mommy. With all my heart, Mommy. And all my spleen!" Have you ever had anyone love you will all her spleen? Only a kid can make such a spleen-felt statement.
So, when one of their number, even just one I barely know, but whom I have seen about on the soccer field, leaves this earth, I get a feeling in my throat, like a swallowed cockle bur. I kind of don't feel the chair I am sitting in or my clothes against my skin. It's like I shrink just a little bit within myself and am a fraction of a millimeter apart from the world. I can rub the creases between my eyebrows and that stems the moisture I feel forming at the rims of my eyelids. But then, a feeling comes over me immediately after or perhaps simultaneously with sadness that I can only call joy. Sort of a simultaneous bipolarity. I think colors are brighter, I hear more birds chirping, and every song on the radio is one I want to sing to. I find myself smiling when I see the dude in the car next to me singing to his radio, and the chubby teenagers making out at the bus stop, and the little ones running amok at Old Navy. This is life and this is joy.
What do spleens do? Whatever medical research has since discovered about spleens, from the time of the ancient Greeks to well into the 18th Century, the learned were of the opinion that the spleen produced "black bile," which caused melancholia. And on that note, I do think I love my children with all my heart and children of the world with all my spleen.
God be with you, young Chase.