A young man with curly hair swings open the red doors of the restaurant with the red awning. A woman sits beyond those open doors at a darkened bar—hair in a high pony tail, dangly earrings, her form framed by an archway strung with colored lights. It’s like looking into a different country even though I’m just sitting in the parking lot across the street, door of my truck open to the morning breeze. A song I’ve listened to a thousand times in the last month plays from my phone through the stereo: "When you think of love, do you think of pain?" Adolescent keening that leads to the chorus, "this body is yours, this body is yours and mine… this mess is yours, now your mess is mine." When my 10-year-old daughter sings along with this tune, she croons, “This party is yours, this party is yours and mine.” At first I thought she was saying “this potty,” which was even funnier. But she says “party” because the word “body” in that context makes no sense to her. Yet.
I think about the years ahead of her, sure to be full of love and pain, and the years behind me, full of the same. The line from the end of the movie Shadowlands, about the life of C.S. Lewis, comes to me: "Why love when losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more, only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice—the boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering." The woman at the bar tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and runs a thumb across her forehead as she writes something on a piece of paper. I imagine she is planning the day. The young man sets a bowl of water on the sidewalk for any dogs who might need it on this July day. I am half in the world of their morning bustle and half in the dark, quiet world of my own heart, with all the loss and love it contains.
I then think of my daughter, who swings open the doors of her heart every day so that anyone can see the lights strung from the ventricles there. How can I wish for her the kind of love that leads to suffering? How can I wish for her, or myself, anything less?