Earlier this week my 13 year old son came home from school a few minutes later than usual. "Was the bus late?" I asked.
"No," he said. "I stopped to call the county to report stop sign that fell at Hillside and Granger."
"You did?" I asked. I would have walked by that stop sign a thousand times before it occurred to me I could do anything about it. I generally wait for someone else to make it abundantly clear what I should be doing or what should be done. I feel no agency over objects or buildings or infrastructure. The county came and righted the downed sign the very next day.
After that, a galvanized pipe beneath our kitchen sink gave in to corrosion, our beloved cat Moon went missing, and a filling from Stan's tooth fell out. A friend came over at 8 am Saturday morning to organize our search party in the midst of dealing dealing with a heartache of her own. Stan was in a near fetal position on the floor, convinced the gray tabby he'd given his whole heart to just 6 months before was already dead, or at least missing forever. "He's a cat," said our son. "He'll come home when he's hungry." I held my own anguish at bay by deciding Moon was on a vision quest, a rite of passage, marking his transition from boy to man.
It felt good to walk through the neighborhood stapling laminated missing signs to wooden posts, talking about the nature of love and friendship and what can thread itself through a heart to tear apart the two. We talked to neighbors, rattled dry cat food in tupperware containers, called out in soft, sweet voices to soothe ourselves as much as the still wild, lost animal we were trying to call home.
When we got back to the house we all ate a breakfast of eggs and sausage and biscuits Stan had made while we were gone. We set out a bowl of warm tuna fish and a litter box and everything else it was suggested we do. I called a plumber and Stan called a dentist. Moon's sister, Sun, never left my side, climbing onto my chest and licking my face.
We are learning what it is we are able and not able to do.