It was a clear steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman’s look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson’s chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glided the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these were the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rushed mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these were the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea.

Chapter 132, The Symphony

There was a time in my life when the first thing I would see every morning as I stumbled to the bathroom and flipped on the light, was the label on my blow dryer cord which hung beside my bathroom mirror.  It read:

Warn children of the risk of death by electrocution.

Now, I’m a reader.  I see words, pop, in they go, into the brain.  I should filter more, I know. And, seeing as how this bathroom encounter was one that took place every morning way back when I was first diagnosed with major clinical depression, it probably would have been wise to move the blowdryer.  Or cut off the warning label.

Ah, but here’s another glitch I struggle with.  Rules.  I was raised to always follow the rules.  The rules were inevitably created by people far wiser than I, and rules were never to be questioned.  And warning labels, well, does it get any clearer than that?  Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.

It seems such a whim.  So ludicrous and yet, here it said in black and white–we will be incarcerated if we were ever to so much as sever a thread connecting the label to the mattress.

We followed the rules even when the rules did not make sense, because the risk is death.

Warn children of the risk of death by electrocution.

There were no children in my apartment.  No children in my life at all at this particular point in time.  Yet, like a self affirmation I would stand brushing my teeth in front of that mirror trying to visualize how I might carry out this rule dictated by my blow dryer cord.

Warn children of the

risk   of  death.

The more you look at it, the more absurd the statement becomes.

I did, thank god, have enough sanity to not run out on the street and grab the first child I saw by their tiny shoulders, lean close in to their frightened face and whisper urgently  “Beware the risk of death by electrocution–”

Perhaps, because, I was not really sure what the better death would be.  Beware the risk of death by electrocution, but don’t worry so much about stepping in front of a bus.  Or growing old, and weak, and forgetful.  Of growing wrinkled and watching those you love die before you.  To have cancer grow on your insides like a time lapse film of black mold on bread.  No–just beware the risk of death by electrocution.

Lethal injection, turns out just might be leaving you with an excruciatingly painful death as your lungs freeze and flood, but you’re never around for us to ask you and that electrocution with the searing and burned hair smell, really--must be worse.

I did get rebellious.  I began removing the beaters before unplugging the electric mixer.  I knew it was wrong.

Then I grew up, and I had children, and I realized one day just how much motherhood had changed me as I reached first to pull the cord from the wall before attempting to remove beaters.

I realized then I very much did not want to die, not now–not just now.  I mean, what a scar to leave on your children.  To come home from school and find their mother dead on the floor from not following the safety instructions on the electric mixer.

I began to realize that motherhood brings this curious dance between fear and acceptance.  There is so much that could take them away in an instant, and there is so little we can do about the vast majority of it.  Yes, there is also so much we can do to protect them, and ensure long term health and instill behavior which leads to a longer life–but there is still the element of the random.

 

When my husband came home that night he sat me down on the bed and said that line he says which means he is about to tell me something horrible.

“Well, the first thing I need you to remember is–everyone is fine.  Everyone is okay.”

Stating that things actually are exactly how I had imagined they were at that point when he told me to sit down is hardly a reassuring start.

The story that followed was not about a death.  It was about rage and it is about why I do now and why I will always hate guns.  Guns and rage and driving in Texas.  A misunderstanding, an escallation.  The other driver had a gun and he shot at my husband’s truck five times.  One of the bullets hit.

It gives a mother pause.

Two of my three children were asleep in the truck that night.  Sound sleepers, thank god.

For that bullet  passed no more than eleven inches below where my daughter  slept.  Passed right under her small sleeping body by a distance not much larger than a loaf of bread.

This is the distance our lives sometimes scrape through.

Unless, we are the them, and the bullet does not miss.

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