There's a lump on a tendon in the arch of my foot. The podiatrist thinks it's a fibroma, so I went for an MRI of my foot today at lunch, stuck my foot in the machine and fell asleep. While the machine hummed around my arch I dreamed that I answered a door, and as I opened it, it became the door to our family home in Ohio, and there was my dad, smiling. Grayer than I remember, a little shorter. I hugged him and said, "you know, we never really cared if it was $60,000 or $20,000, we just wanted you here." And he hugged me harder, as if to say, "I know that now..." but before he could answer I woke up. The machine was still humming.
On the way home, someone from Jesse's law school called and said, "I've been thinking of you and Jesse all week. Jesse would be graduating now, and the dean wanted to mention him in his speech." She read me her notes, but I could barely hear over all the traffic. It sounded fine, whatever it was. Right before we signed off she blurted out, "and I'm, I'm sorry." "Thanks," I said, trying to sound as warm as possible.
Just last night I was out with friends from Slate's fray, and one of them, in response to some wisecrack of mine, said, "except my mother's dead." "Well, there you go," I said. And then I caught myself in the same spot my existence puts everyone else. I looked at him, thinking, did I say the wrong thing? Was that stupid? Did he lose her recently and I fucked up? He looked back at me as if to say, don't worry about it, and we moved on in the conversation, but I can't help thinking: I know when I'm ok with making light of my orphanhood. But I can't know when it's ok to be light about someone else's, even when they present it lightly. Death's territory begins at the edge of every word.