Melting into what matters

“Consult your memory to know what matters most in your life.” — Amit Kalantri

 If my mother had poked the correct number of candles into the red velvet birthday cake she baked last weekend, we would have burned down the house.

I wasn’t sure whether becoming six decades old would be easy or painful or something else entirely.

The absence of that many flickering lights was the clue.

Lulls instead of crescendoes.

Like the pause between the low rumbles of thunder long ago as my mother, brother and I sit in our darkening house.

Jenny, our dog, whines in her sleep and I ask why.

“She’s having a nightmare,” my mother replies, pulling thread through my father’s sock, taut around a light bulb.

Tension builds and the room explodes in a crash of light.

* * * * *

I awaken early on a bright spring morning and pedal my tricycle to the corner of the block on which we live.

The sun peeks over the trees and rooftops and sets the neighborhood ablaze in oranges and pinks. I am stunned into a standstill before returning home where I see my mother’s worried face and the next sentence begins.

* * * * *

See Jane run.

Mrs. Fellers taught us to read in first grade.

We stop mid-sentence when the bell rings for the monthly fire drill and gather outside the building, shivering in the cold.

Commas among the clutter of bodies.

* * * * *

Life speeds up and the lulls, pauses and commas disappear.

And reappear.

* * * * *

My father, with cane in hand, and I walk leisurely around the neighborhood on a glorious Halloween afternoon. Some people put up decorations while others rake leaves.

Near the driveway to my childhood house, he takes my elbow and tells me “we’re almost home” and I feel suspended on the other side of the sunset awash in the western sky.

* * * * *

Inhale. Exhale. Slowly.

My yoga teacher instructs.

Be present because that’s all there is.

The icing on my cake is melting into what matters.