This Mortal Coil

“Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Or take Arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Ay, there is the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.”

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Today was a day of wonder, a break from the monotony of taking care of my two great lights, a day of rough housing in the pool, a Mexican meal that sat for hours in my stomach, a day of running on Alpine trails, a day of reading. And of joy. Such immense great joy.

For a while life was a giddy ride of near perfection, then came the crash, the bottom, the arrows of misfortune which caused me to pause and reflect and weep for two lost pregnancies and changed my worldview to one of an ancient Greek, pausing for the next thunderbolt of good or ill. I crept, I stayed out of view, I blogged. If you are reading me, you did not know the confident creature I once was, full of adventure and glamor, living in Notting Hill, holidaying in Fitzgerald’s former home on Eden Roc, racing in a jeep to catch sight of a cheetah family in Tanzania or fly-fishing in Montana. It was over-the-top, it was life at its fullest.

A week ago I wearily rolled out my trash cans, my energy always depleted, my hair missing in patches I no longer try to hide, wearing sweatpants and Darcy’s shirts and my glasses: I look sad, or invisible in the worst sort of way: that old sad housewife. Life’s slings and arrows have dragged me down. Infertility and loss had nearly destroyed me.

It may not seem like it, but I have a choice, to listen to the sad reminders of what I have lost and acknowledge the pain and stress I went through. But there’s also the choice to embrace the joys. My husband who brings great happiness to me. My precocious beautiful children. Our beautiful garden and comfortable home. Our extended family. My friends, who both understand and don’t understand. Both groups are valuable.

What I don’t have, I don’t have. I have an exquisite wedding quilt, I have French gold-rimmed China, I have two pieces of my grandmother’s cocktail jewelry, I have a flower compressed by a dictionary that my daughter gave me. I have my mother’s chapbook of poetry and my dad’s novels. I have a passed-down piano which desperately needs to be tuned.
I won’t have a large family.

I will have a life, full of pain and joy. While I can’t ignore the pain, I shall notice the good, the beautiful, the important work to be done as a wife, a mother, a friend.

This mortal coil shall claim us all, even the fortunate, the sad, the unlucky, the brilliant, the popular.

The best we can do is embrace the goodness in ourselves, in our family, in our children and try to enjoy the good fortune. Not expect it, but recognize it when it comes our way.


Filed under Discovering joy

10 responses to “This Mortal Coil

  1. This is a brilliant post, so beautifully written, and just what I needed to read right now. Thank you.

  2. Ditto, loved this and especially the last line.

  3. I want to fly to CA and hug you. It is so hard to focus on the beauty and the good when there has been so much ugliness and bad. Thank for reminding us that we have a choice.

  4. I love the way you juxtapose cheetah-glimpsing with putting out the trash. The stuff life is made of.

    I’ve been at several cemeteries lately and this post helps me process embracing ALL that life has to offer.

    “enjoy the good fortune. Not expect it, but recognize it when it comes our way.”

  5. Fabulous post — a lesson we all should remember.

  6. This is exquisite. Thank you for expressing it this way … yes, exactly.

  7. I read this earlier and had to come back and re-read/ponder it a bit more before I felt ready to comment.

    Thank you for writing this.

    I too LOVE the last line, the idea that we can try not to expect good fortune, but to recognize and appreciate when it comes our way.

  8. So very beautifully put. I love this post.

  9. Awesome post! Oh and I love Hamlet!

  10. I have those moments all the time, when I look at the academic work I did before having babies, and my poor attempts now (just for example). You do write about this exquisitely.

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