A Slow, Full Teardrop

Early this morning, I swaddled myself with the large purple blanket and lay down on the upstairs couch. It is Miguel’s cocoon when he watches teevee, and it holds the smell of his hair and the echoes of the videos he loves. (Hello, Dan TDM!)

I took a deep breath and prayed for Miguel, the 10 year old light of my life who has wrangled with his share of shadows.

I do not believe in God, so praying is always a little awkward, but over the years Notgod and I have developed an understanding (I hope!) which helps me focus on the feelings at hand instead of getting caught in a recursive loop of apologizing to Godifyouexist for appropriating the habits of true believers.

Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Carl Sagan, and Douglas Adams–so formative for this secular humanist.

Please let Miguel’s eye surgery go well.* Please let this be a good decision. Please let him be calm about the general anesthesia. Please, please, please, please let his vision improve or at the least be no worse.  And, selfishly, very selfishly: If there are  complications or disappointments or unpleasant side effects (of course there will be at least some), please let him forgive us and the world. Please, universe*, let him know how much he is loved, let him feel that love to his core. Please let that be a light during dark times.

Horizontal tears move slowly, descending the contours of our faces like switchback down a mountain. A fat one rolled along the ridge of my nose and curved around my nostril.  It paused and quivered before dropping to the corner of my mouth. Still intact, the ball of salty water followed the slope of my lips until it found a place to rest for a while. Eventually it relaxed into a wet spot back under my nose.

Water is amazing. Soft enough to wash a baby, strong enough to split mountains. It can tremble between a liquid and solid state, surface tension holding it together, even if just for a few seconds. In freezing, it preserves warmth, expanding like a down* comforter to protect what lives below.

Lady’s Mantle from my garden after an April showers to flowers.

Tears are apparently amazing, too, featuring different chemical profiles depending on their trigger. See See Rose-Lynn Fisher’s Topography of Tears project. I’m not sure what recipe was called up to make this morning’s tear. Not sadness or joy, anger or pain. Not even fear, though that might be the closest emotion.

I think I was just swelled up with love. They say a drop of water holds the universe. Maybe the tear was a conjuring of that complicated vastness, a reassurance that my love is more broad and deep than I ever can fathom.  Maybe I needed to feel it in the universe, held in a drop of water.

Please help me show Miguel that our love is infinite, never contingent, always expanding. 


*Elective cataract surgery on one eye. Long story. Not a life or death situation.
*I no more believe the “universe” listens and has agency than I believe in a deity. But I don’t feel too disingenuous yawping into the ether. Forces, vibrations, we’re all stardust, that sort of thing. I’m sure Godifyouexist understands.
*Synthetic, please.

2 thoughts on “A Slow, Full Teardrop

  1. Gin There is an old saying that there are no atheists in a foxhole and I’m living proof that the saying is true. It seemed a little hypocritical to pray not to get hurt and then forget about Him when the danger had passed. So I continue to pray today and I will pray for success in the surgery.

    I really wrote because I wanted to tell you that in my early 60s I had bilateral cataract surgery, first one eye and the other a few weeks later. Lots of seniors need this procedure so it is one of the most common procedures done in the world. I had worn glasses or contacts since I was in the 6th grade or thereabout. When I finished with the procedures I could see better than I had my entire life. As you know, after the diseased lens is removed a new one is implanted inside the eye. After a few days and a little exercising to strengthen my eye muscles I could see better than ever before. I was so happy. Now I don’t wear glasses at all. I can see distance so no glasses required per my driver’s license and none for my computer screen and none for reading unless the room is dark or the print is really small or indistinct. I keep a pair of reading glasses around for low light situations, but that is it. So we’ll hope and pray for the best.

    Please let us know how your young man is doing.

    Jim James A. Ralston 901-652-8874


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