There is a moment every year when I realize I've lost the sun. As if the frozen air has plucked every ray from my flesh, scraped away summer's glow with icy claws, leeched the color from my skin. Perhaps it's a redhead thing, this day when you notice that you've passed on from ivory and now are somewhere closer to alabaster. Just a notch or so from transparent. Oh, how I do miss the feel of warm rays spilling over my bare shoulders and down my back...
Spring, please hurry.
At any rate, the other night I was sitting next to one of my boys and discovered him staring at my hand. "Mom," he whispered, "I can see your pulse." I chuckled and told him now he could be sure now I wasn't a vampire--he grinned, but looking at the back of his own hands, he shook his head. "My hands don't have those veins." I ruffled his hair, "Well love, that's because you're young, perhaps you won't have hands like mine." He seemed slightly disconcerted by this, my youngest and I have much in common, but his brother called and off he ran to play.
Evening was approaching, afternoon's light beginning to fade as the night drew near. I sat in the dusk, swirling the wine in my glass, marveling a bit at the contrast of my pale skin against the crimson liquid. You could plainly see blue lines, veins tracing the length of my fingers, across the back of my hand, disappearing as they swirled around the bones of my wrist. I've always been lucky as far as needles go. A slightly bizarre thing to say, but having such a surface bloodway means that the one in the crook of my elbow is raised up, a quarter inch wide, it cannot be missed. (it always thrills the nurses--once I had a doc ask if I would come in to let the new aides train on me. Um.....no.) But such things are not without peril.
I have my mother's veins.
How strange to stumble across a memory tucked long ago into the eves of my mind...
I was about seven or so. Mum was drying dishes with me, taking care of the more fragile ones. I remember us just chatting on, and there was a clink. One of the large wine glasses had broken....with her hand inside of it. I remember the scarlet spray that hit the wall in front of us. The pulse of it that was her heartbeat seen, like a mad macabre sprinkler. That split second where my mind added up the volume and the throb of it all and arrived at how serious the injury must be...and for the first time, there in our kitchen with the green ivy towels, my mother became mortal. This superhero who ran our ranch with an iron hand, could fly through the door snatching a loaded gun which hung on a rack above each, and cock it with deadly accuracy before even hitting the ground outside--beware ye wolves and mountain lions, our horses were not for you. Suddenly before my eyes, the bulletproof super woman bled....alot.
She wrapped her hand in a kitchen towel, it was soon soaked. As I've mentioned, our land was a long way from any doctor's office. I remember sitting in the passenger seat as she fumbled with the keys...and then stopped. The towel was dripping and there was no way she could drive. Back inside, she called for help and wonderful friends rushed like madmen to our side. They whisked her off and a few stayed with us girls; my father had a moment of sheer panic when he arrived home to a blood drenched kitchen and a house full of people, but all was soon explained. There were stitches and a bandage and that evening, lying in my bed long after dark, I knew my mother was safe upstairs. But invincible no more.
The things that shape us. Ideas and dreams and memories. Do you know, I've never once put my hand inside of a wine glass to dry it. I am stronger than most people I meet. I am six feet tall and have a 36 inch inseam and own my own heavy bag. But the truth remains, every superhero has a kryptonite. A chink in the armor, an achilles heel...a broken heart, nightmares, shattered hopes, lost causes. Beautiful humanity. We are so strong.