I started reading Amy Poehler's memoir Yes Please while I was home alone this afternoon and in it there's a beautiful and funny and touching part starting on page fifty-eight in which Eileen and Bill Poehler, Amy's mom and dad, take turns telling the story of her birth. Afterwards, Amy writes:
If your parents are still alive, call them today and ask them to describe the day you were born. Write the details down here, on the following pages. Tell the story every year on your birthday until you know it by heart.
In response, my body broke. I don't think it was an actual call-an-ambulance-I-am-dying panic attack, but the pace of my heart hastened and my forehead got sweaty and all of the air that was inside of my lungs made its way outside of them very quickly and I sat on my bed feeling crushed and lost and wondering if I'd ever asked my mom to tell me the story of my birth and if I had why I hadn't I written every single word of it down right then and there and if I hadn't then what the fuck was I doing during the two and a half years that she was sick? I sat there asking myself those questions for a while and soon my heart rate slowed to its normal speed and my forehead sweat dried up and the air returned to my lungs. Then I picked up Amy Poehler’s memoir and continued.
I guess if I were writing a book about grief I would probably include in one of its early chapters a part about how you can eat healthy food and exercise every day and skip past all of the sad songs on your iPhone but eventually you're gonna pull an orange sweater out of your dresser drawer and realize, for one reason or another, that the last time you wore it your amazing and beautiful mother was still alive and in that moment your heart is gonna explode into a trillion little red shards right inside of your chest and you're gonna feel exactly the same way you did when you first got that phone call however many months before. But that moment will pass and life will go on and you'll hope that someday the stuff that reminds you of her will feel more like gifts and less like shrapnel.