I used to feel that I spent an inordinate amount of time writing about grief. Particularly during the writing of Field Guide, I resisted giving the proper weight to the aunt’s death, because I didn’t want to. I kept thinking about my mother’s comment, “Why do the mother figures in your stories always die?”
But, the truth is, I also spend a lot of time writing about joy. About love. About desire.
Yesterday was hard. It was hard enough that I called my father, and poured my grief into him. And he talked with me, and told me a poem, and said, “The simple things always before the complex. A walk outside. A psalm.” And then he asked if he could do anything for me. And minutes later he arrived to take us for dinner and a walk and ice cream and the park and basketball and he was right. The simple things before the complex. Family. This is all I have ever wanted, and what I struggle with most. Family. A partnership without abandonment.
You see how the grief sneaks in. Abandonment.
And so I will tell you about my love. About the fidelity of it. Last night, Gavin and I were shooting baskets. “You have H,” I told him, when he missed a shot.
“No, we’re playing animal basketball.”
“What kind is that?” I asked.
“It’s like this,” he said. “When you miss a shot, you get an animal. I have iguana.”