My Mini & Lou,
You both came so innocuous into this world, one with a bang and the other barely a whisper. Each of you so sublime and tender that no harm could touch you. Our cells intermingled, some of mine spiriting away to tutor yours, cytoplasmic nurturers conferring regulation and resilience.
But that was before the heat and the fire startled me awake. At a time when I didn’t understand that I was delivering you to a broken planet. Since then I’ve imagined your future, a blurry landscape. It’s a vision that haunts me on unseasonably warm November mornings as we run our toes through a tousle of grass, iridescent light filtering through the leaves and into the pit of my stomach. It was an anguished mirage during weeks after the Camp Fire, when the sky was heavy with ash and our throats burned beneath face masks. Those drawn out days spent burrowed indoors, longing to feel a crisp breeze or take flight on a swing as we watched the poppies and the hummingbees flit about on the leafy side of the triangle window. And there was a nausea-infused wonder about the future every time I waited at the gas pump and felt the weight of millions of others swiping, clicking, churning in unison.
I carry your tomorrow with me, sometimes gasping for air. Grasping to find courage in Kate Marvel’s affirmation that we are all bound together beneath this warming atmosphere and that maybe collectively we can mitigate some of it. So I write. To find courage. To will a fresh narrative. I pray for divine intervention. I call the governor and sign petitions. I carry posters citing Mr. T’s Treat Your Mother Right. I try and fail and start over again. I eat my cereal with coconut milk, but am still reckoning with cheese. I brush my teeth with toothpaste tablets, which is often as unpleasant as it sounds, but not as unpleasant as the plastic-choked carcass of a whale washed up on a shore. Still, I wonder if any of it makes a difference.
Since I first sat down with these words, a pandemic has erupted. Racial violence is reaching a fever pitch and protests are raging across the nation. It feels like the planet is succumbing to entropy, slipping further into chaos. But I write to you from a time of shifting tides. As sea levels rise, so does the chorus of voices heaving the climate movement forward and rallying for systemic change. There’s a brief, sun-lit clearing in the woods and it’s time for a hard reset. I’ll keep voting, donating, advocating, repairing, teaching, reading everything I can in my little corner of the universe. I don’t pretend to have much influence and you’re well aware of my flawed attempts. But please continue to help me make my way. Remind me to opt out of strawberries encased in plastic and to hop on my bike when it feels easier to drive.
Despite all the sweeping revisions we make, a part of me remains in you. Those microscopic particles, sheltered beneath your skin. Remnants of the tiny mentors that taught your body to recognize itself, to recover and repair. And I hope it’s inoculation enough. Enough to relay to the little ones you’ll grow and the tiny hands you’ll hold.
But even when I’m gone, I’ll be with you. You are my tomorrows. And no matter the distance between the two of you, I hope you’ll cling to one another.
Waters may close in and temperatures will rise, knitting the weft of humanity closer together. Just remember to weave your threads with vibrant kindness. Today, tomorrow, always.