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I begin this morning that could feel like I’m sifting through a house fire, blackened, burned, sopping wet, heartbroken, but I am determined to hold my head up and say this is a new day, one I begin with raw skin and foal’s legs, and I will make something good of it.

I begin this morning clinging to a philosophy, one that says my favorite glass that sits on the shelf is already broken.

I begin this morning clinging to the serenity prayer that tells me to accept the things I cannot change.

I begin this morning better than I left yesterday. I was overwhelmed. I tore my house apart looking for something I’d lost. I cried. I still cry.  I slept, unable to face the everything that came down on me because it’s clearly gone.  One small loss drew in a lifetime of loss, like some magnet that attracts black matter, black star, black planet, a life implodes, and yet I still get to choose how to face this minute, and the next and the next.  I saw all your faces, I relived all your hearts and every mistake I ever made that hurt you and hurt me. I slept and I survived.

Things happen all around me and I didn’t always notice.  I’ve been trying to get better at observing and writing to understand.  When I was a kid we would visit our grandparents in the Garden State of New Jersey, land of the farms and high tension lines.  I used to collect cicada shells in those late summer days, carefully plucking their delicate bodies clamped to a tree and putting their husks in a coffee can. Quite a pile. They had a unique smell almost akin to ancient books in a back room library but with a whiff of life that is begone. Until recently, cicada always meant “summer sound, dormant, collect husks for fun.”  Once we brought a cicada home, kept it in an aquarium and watched as it broke through its old body and became wetly new, expanding, growing, alive, astonishing colors!   We put it on a pine outside when we knew it was time.  It never made a sound, and I never saw it fly away, yet what a gift we received that day.  Here, there are cicada who made their home in the pine tree across from my door.  They react to birds invading their branches, the cicada fly away (actually flying! away!) and come back when the bird is gone. The needles even shake when their heavy, black bodies depart!  And when they are comfortable, they sound like my dad’s radial arm saw, calling calling calling all summer day until dark.

I never knew cicada could be so proactive. Their large, black bodies are busy in ways I never saw before.  Meanwhile, I have to decide what is more important this morning: Life ever changing, words and images I lost yet I have the time and the place and the ability to write about everything, with everything I’ve got right now.  Cicada know it’s all on the table and it’s now or never. They give it their all.  And I don’t want to be a dried husk stuck to a pine tree with no story to tell.

Do cicada grieve? Do slow-motion butterflies who pass by the pines care?  I don’t know. All I know is that the finches will be back next year to make several noisy baby broods, gulls will patrol the shore for unfortunate fry, and the moon will be bright in my winter window.