I am afraid. Again. An ordinary woman with extra ordinary concerns, surely more than the average female.
The fear comes to greet me each time a child prepares to fly-be-free. Anxiety bids me to taste it and I obey, cannot resist though I know the flavor hasn’t changed, has not improved one whit since the last time.
Afraid’s mouthfeel is that of rust, peat moss, a scab slicked by a child’s tongue then dried by the wind. Burnt Sienna Crayon flaked on a box grater. A crushed cigarette eaten with no water to wash it down.
Is all fear—of life, not death—like this? Suffocating, strangling? Causing one to quake like corn kernels in a heated and covered pot, skittering frenetically in order to avoid death by drowning in high temperature olive oil (not canola oil as it is really RAPEseed oil).
Surely death, or considerable damage at the very least, is inevitable if I grant my fists permission to unfurl. Instead I clutch my balled hands in my lap, relocate them after a time to beneath my thighs so as to prevent their becoming manacles around her delicate wrists, the means by which I hold her here, close to my heart, gasping for breath.
All I want is one person to acknowledge my angst, recognize it as a higher form of love. I need someone to watch me cup my hand over my mouth to silence my sobs, my keening. Will someone please applaud as I murmur, “You can be anything, accomplish whatever you set your mind to. I’m sure of it.”
For eighteen years I’ve known this was coming, the severance of a second umbilical cord, this one invisible—a rope of me, her, her papa, and God—encased in a gleaming moist sheath which is love. It thrums with the possibility that each goodbye may be the last. Unseen hands tug the strand from “gone forever” to “wildly successful and full of joy.”
Someone please fetch that box over there, the one lacquered almost black with open heart pink satin lining. Inside I’ll arrange the grayed strips of paper which when ordered correctly read: I can take better care of her than she can, He can.
Now I need a brick, a hammer, or a gun so I can obliterate the square in one fluid WHAM! Next I’ll locate a sheet of diaphanous yet metallic vellum and a pen with silver ink. At the dining room table I’ll make loops and swirls on scratch paper to guarantee flow then I’ll form calligraphy letters big as baby fingers: I TRUST. After I trim the statement, the affirmation, I’ll fold it again and again till it’s the size of a vein, a whisper.
Where is the wee velvet box my husband snapped open on a pier over the ocean two decades plus ago? I’ll tuck my trust wisp into its white satin cleft, let the lid bite shut then nestle it at the bottom of a fireproof chest hidden in the secret place. Surely it, she, will be safe then . . .