It had taken a year and a half to assemble my husband’s Christmas present to me, a two-person swing just long enough for me to lie in curled. The swing had an adjustable canopy that could be angled back to invite more of the sky in. On the prettiest of May days I tested it out. Toes pointing into the earth with straightening legs, I lunged forward into a vision of orange-gold-red maple leaves resplendent against a brilliant spring blue sky. The gentle brushing of cool grass waking up the souls of my bare feet with every return. The gentle rocking lullabying me. I love my swing.
Tonight, a perfect May night, my husband and I get to enjoy it together – giver and receiver joint testing the gift. We swing gently back and forth through the night air so perfect I cannot feel its temperature, admiring our garden. The moon is high in the dark sky, an almost full crisp circle of soft white. Without anything to hide behind it shines brightly, revealing the purple of our neighbors siding, muting it in compromise. Deep secretive shadows in our garden are interrupted by patches of moonlight that pick out blades of grass, the highlight on a leaf, the sharp angles on rocks, the somi-e black lines of young trunks. Our mature pine trees are silhouetted in needle fuzzy outlines of velvet.
I first came to know the moon over our home as a pregnant, hazy yellow September moon. She introduced the magic of the Pine Trees to me, at a time when I most needed magic. At a time of fear so deep and pain so excruciating that only the power of magic could keep me from drowning in them. These were the first weeks home from the 6 months and 11 days of intensive care in a burn unit. A burn so extensive and deep that it was almost a miracle I survived it.
For those first 2 weeks home I lay sleepless from pain on my borrowed hospital bed, imprisoned in a body bound up tightly in scar bands, in skin suffocatingly shrink wrapped, paralyzed by wasted muscle unfit to combat these restrictive forces. Unable to adjust my pillow, scratch an itch, lift a glass to drink from, escape the increasing dampness of my sheets that was the seeping of my wounds, get up out of bed. Each night I dreaded having to wake my exhausted husband up to save me from the humiliation of wetting my bed. Each night, with shame and apology, I had to. He would lift me, hold me from falling, walk me, wipe me clean, put me back into bed. Where I would lie sleepless, refusing the narcotics that promised short-term relief at the risk of transforming a solution into a problem of its own. Nothing about my situation was short-term. I knew I could not outrun the risk. I also knew I had the strength to outlive the difficulty.
In anticipation of the predictable over-heating of my body at night, a result of the lost ability to regulate body temperature, the window my bed was pressed against would be left open a crack. I would turn, triumphant to execute this movement which had taken months to accomplish, toward the relief of the cool night air that streamed thinly through the crack. One blessed night, turning toward the relief of this cool air I came upon the glorious view of a full, yellow moon.
Silent in the face of my soundless screaming. Present. Sympathetic. Full of promise. Eternal. Still. Peaceful. Beautiful. It was everything. It was quiet simplicity. It commanded my attention. And all else ceased. The pain, the fear, the impossibility of surviving the moment. There was just the perfection of this moon, and the mystic clouds it danced with. The clouds that shared space with the Pine Trees rooted deeply in the earth and rising up to the moon in strong black ink against its light.
The moon’s ethereal quality spoke directly to my heart, blessing me with the knowing that even suffering is ethereal. The Pine Trees’ rooted majesty spoke directly to my heart blessing me with the strength of remaining. These were knowings the mind cannot reach. This was the medicine of magic. Each night I made sure the curtain was arranged to afford a view. On the 15th night home I slept.
Tonight, six years later, we marvel that we are finally sitting back to enjoy the fruit of the years of labor it took to create this garden. A garden I designed and gave birth to with dreams of a future quite different from the one we had. A garden maintained exclusively by my husband ever since my accident. It seems a luxury to enjoy the garden so simply, with no overlay of other plans.
With little need to talk we are content holding hands as we swing back and forth, taking in the beauty of our moonlit garden. In this moment, right here, right now, I am completely at peace; there is absolutely nothing I want to change. More then that, I am happy.
The imperfections have not gone away, they simply do not matter. Perhaps they are necessary ingredients in the appreciation of the perfection of my life right here, just as the magic of the moonlit areas draws its beauty in contrast to the recesses of the shadows in our garden.
Dedicated to jenne jennifer – thank you for assembling my swing.
to my husband – thank you for assembling… me.