Morning has broken, foggy and full of birds calls. As I sit and drink coffee looking out into the thick marine layer, these noises come to my ear over the water…
The honking of Canada geese…
Crows, one issuing the food call somewhere down by the slough.
Finches, twittering in the palm trees outside the window.
And mourning doves clattering around the chimney flashing, cooing down the vent their grieving call.
Beyond that, cars and heavy trucks, the beeping of something backing up.
Someone tapping methodically, regularly with a hammer…
…but not as regular as the pile driver beyond that.
I’ve been up already and made lunch for my kid. We are in the last days of lunch making. Next year, he’ll be in college avoiding the freshman fifteen.
I’m spending this Leap Day celebrating. I’ll get an Orthovisc shot in my left knee in hopes of forestalling knee surgery. I’ll fix my draft of my novel and send it to its first victim. I’ll address complaints that the washer is somehow making all the clothes stinky having dispelled more logical explanations first. I’ll sort through two bags of mixed garbage and recycling which my kid pulled from his room and I won’t complain since he cleaned the room perfectly without me asking.
Last Leap Day…
My mom was still alive.
My grandmother was alive.
Both matriarchs gone in ten months was much.too.much. Those are the kind of losses where you sit and wonder (after the earth is done shaking) if you are still in one piece and you aren’t so sure, so you keep measuring at regular monthly intervals, gently touching around the injury assessing for tenderness. You are like unreinforced masonry and not sure if or when you will collapse.
My dogs were here. Mandy, alive, sweet, dancing her happy dance. Bootsie, strong and in her prime. She could still pick up a dollar bill or a toy gun in her mouth and would send us into fits of laughter with her displays of key material goods. Dobbie, the family clown, was still bullying the chickens, intimidating larger beasts, demanding our affection.
We’ve had cats die, and chickens die, and rabbits die, and guinea pigs die, and ducks die. I can’t keep thinking about the amount of loss over the past four years. I’m afraid to tempt a further reaping.
I’ve had whole friendships build from nothing in the past four years, not one, but many. They’ve softened the crushing loss like stones under which the dust of me can tuck and hide.
I’ve had other friendships end, never to return.
In four years, my oldest has married, had a baby–he’s almost four now. My second has gone to the Middle East twice and twice returned home safe from deployment. My youngest has started and almost finished high school.
A part of me wonders why have a leap year? Yes, I know the science behind it, but wouldn’t it be far more popular to have extra minutes of sleep on slightly longer days at especially wearisome times of year? With atomic clocks, who would know the difference?