I hope you don’t stop by unannounced tonight, particularly if you’re a representative of any state agency having to do with health, safety or the welfare of children. You would see utter chaos in my kitchen - a counter strewn with egg shells, drops of maple syrup, a container of mushrooms slightly past their prime, chocolate chips, shredded cheese, pancake mix (before and after it became batter) and bacon of questionable color (ultimately thrown away). You would see a vase, a casserole dish and a sangria jug, all waiting for days to be put away because doing so requires a ladder, or at least a chair. You would see walls patched and primed, soon to be painted the cheerful shade of green waiting over to the side in the can. On the table you would see my daughter’s report card (straight As), the current issue of The Week (which will likely be recycled after I do the crossword puzzle and give up on the rest of the magazine), a new notebook, some new pens, my daughter’s costume for her upcoming role as the Cheshire Cat and the dog’s leash. A tool box because the damned handles are loose again on the formerly-charming clawfoot tub. A Frisbee. A small plastic bin containing embroidery thread, copper wire, a few beads, a roll of Stitch Witchery.
This grand-scale disarray is so beautiful to me. In about 150 square feet, my kitchen somehow captures the essence of the new life my daughter and I have created in the 21 months since my husband committed suicide. He was an orderly fellow, so much so that it was likely part of his undoing. No patience for the stuff of life being visible, no keeping a magazine because I might get around to reading sometime, no tool box left on the counter because it might inspire me to tighten a screw or hang a picture or fix the faucet. I ache for the pain he must have felt trying to coexist with us, trying so desperately to find the peace that eluded him until the end.
Now we, the living, go forward in our cheerful pandemonium. We paint our walls bright colors and wash the dishes when we run out of forks. We laugh, we hope, we grieve. We are what we are, and that's just fine with us.
Come to think of it, it’s O.K. if you stop by unannounced.