Here we are, day nineteen, and today must be a “think about your parents” day, because it began this morning right after morning prayer when I spent time trying to visualize my mother and wept. And now, when I’m just thinking about the last time I weighed in at my current weight class, I’m remembering meaningfully my father.
The Mosquitos are pretty bad today, singing around my ears and biting in my blind spots. No-see-ums. It’s because of the rain, the rain that drummed and tapped against the sides of my tent during a fairly long night.
Speaking of food… Last night I obsessively wrote out ideas for a business involving food, plans, recipes, logos. It didn’t occur to me until this morning that maybe – just maybe – I was in the thrall of hunger.
And we’re still talking around the subject of food when I change the topic back to my father, how wasted and small he’d become, ravaged by cancer. Between the morphine and the throbbing pain, he couldn’t keep anything but the smallest portions down. Pancreatic cancer, he told me outside a grocers, is a death by starvation. Last I saw him, it was the first time I’d ever seen him smaller than me. My step-mother had bought some size 28′s for him a month before, but his pants hung draped by his belt with the front folded over by the time I saw him. She said, “Don’t tell him, but I saved the receipts.” He died three weeks later.
Mother was a bird, thin and bony, uncomfortable to lean against, difficult to cuddle, practically a science experiment. She ate sparingly, a meal a day, sometimes less. At 5’2″ she rarely weighed more than a 100 pounds, but she loved cooking and her children ate well – well enough that all three of us are food snobs and some of us… To be fair… We eat too much for our metabolisms. On the other hand… Happy people without vanity are such a pleasure (always willing to stick their tongue out at a person, make a funny face) especially when you’re related.
Which brings us to happy: today, I danced atop a prominence above a rocky shore, spinning and rolling with the wind and the waves, grass underfoot, blue sky above. I’d almost forgotten how I used to love to move, how the joy would rise up as my chest would heave and the dance would take me for a ride. I’m thinking of movement as a creative sacrament today, a religious duty like sharing the sorrows of a friend or sympathizing with their joys. If you can move, I’m sure God finds the creativity and expression of your body’s movement as appealing as we find the fragrance of flowers. I’ll definitely be dancing again.
One hundred and thirty pounds in stockinged feet. I was nineteen years old and my step-mother would tell me again and again that I was too thin, that the veins in my arms shouldn’t be so visible, that I looked emaciated . My father told her, “Feed that boy.” So she made steak and potatoes, encouraged me to eat ice cream, filled the house with snacks and sodas, and always cooked enough for leftovers. Here I am, again, but this time absent an ice chest with Eskimo bars in the door, no larder with bended shelf, and I’m going back the other way, thinning down where both she and my father would have me fattening up.
I hope to see her at the Thanksgiving holiday. What’s perverse delight that would be.
Today is the nineteenth day of my fast. I pray it gets easier.
I know it won’t.
The tears have just begun.