It happened over the course of two days. Sunday and Monday. I suppose it could have been any other two days of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday and Saturday. It really doesn’t matter which days. It only matters that for two days, I was in the right place at the right time.
First, I was at my usual place — on the couch — whining, also as usual, about the state of this, that and the other thing. The remote rested in my hand with its normal familiarity, my thumb flicking the channel button … until it stopped on a most unusual movie title — little man. A winner of 12 documentary awards, the film by Nicole Conn with an unusual title all in lower case letters seemed intriguing. I decided to drop in for a few minutes before moving on with more mindless remote thumb flicking. Instead, I sat mesmerized. little man is the story of a family brought to its knees when they must choose between the destruction of their profoundly lovely family and the life of their infant son. It chronicles every heartbeat of Nicholas, born 100 days early and weighing only one pound.
Nicholas, his tiny froglike legs and arms swimming in his NICU isolette, seemed from the start of his improbable life to be nothing more than sixteen ounces of joy. With a heart barely the size of a cashew, the journey of Nicholas caused my own shriveled Grinchy heart to swell three times its size. Even when the looming question of when — not if — to give up on efforts of maintaining the life of this improbable boy in a little bird’s body was examined, I rooted for Nicholas. I cheered for the tiny spark of life rather than for the darkness of release.
When the film ended, I realized the remote had fallen from my hands and I really didn’t care to pick it up again.
That was the start of it.
That evening, Dan insisted I go with him to the bookstore. I hadn’t been out of the house in several days and my dear, long-suffering husband needed to look at something other than my listless form on the couch. Grudgingly, I took a look in the mirror and made a large note to self to shroud all the mirrors in the house in black cloths the moment I returned home. Scrunching a baseball hat on my still-somewhat sour head, we headed to the bookstore for a couple hours of escape into Book and Magazine Land. I grabbed one of those intriguing one-word titles off a front table, ordered my usual non-fat, no foam latte and found a chair tucked into a far corner of the store.
The book I had selected was enigmatically titled, Sway. It asks the preposterous question, “Why do perfectly rational people make irrational decisions?’ For the next hour and a half I read through eye-opening accounts of ridiculously normal people (like me) who became “swayed” by encounters of loss and then behaved in ridiculously thoughtless behavior in order to avoid further loss. (Like hiding out on the couch for days on end? Ridiculous. Never. Not ME!)
I finished my latte, bought the book and, clutching it to me like it was my new best friend, spent the rest of Sunday evening turning pages. Literally AND figuratively.
On Monday morning, I cruised quickly through emails, the HuffingtonPost, some of my other usual newsy stops in Google World, and ended on Facebook where one of my nearly lifelong friends had posted a 46-second YouTube video that — added to the previous day’s documentary and book — made me break out into an infectious smile that is still even now here.
I vow that from here forward, whenever that Sylvia Plath, full moon, HELP-I’m-drowning-in-my-own-inner-tide feeling threatens to make me once more a form on the couch, I now have a little man, a sway and an elk in a puddle.
(P.S. If you can’t view the video, paste this into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWfvv2Blk48)