Know how I can tell I’ve been distracted by life? I clicked on the link for WordPress and thought, “Oh, yeah. I DO have a blog.”


The title for this piece comes from a song by Harry Chapin, although it might as readily have come from Elton John’s “Circle of Life.” Been thinking about that old merry-go-round, people getting on, getting off. My mom’s in another holding pattern – declining by teensy increments, wandering back and forth on that whirligig, one moment near the leaping-off point, the next meandering back toward the center. Her short-term memory is riddled with holes, shredded like buckshot silk. She wonders daily why this (Alzheimer’s) happened to her, why there’s no cure, why no one knows what causes it, why she’s still alive when she’d much rather be dead. That last one comes up a lot. I don’t have any answers for her.

A cousin’s wife has come home to die. She’s been fighting cancer awhile now, but the doctors say there are more lesions in her brain and there’s nothing to be done. So they’ve called in Hospice and she and my cousin have chosen to be baptized together as they face into the abyss of knowledge that she will not be at his side through the rest of their lives, not watch their grandchildren grow, miss out on so much. I hope he finds the strength to not shrivel up and blow away after she’s gone. He has so much left to share with the world. Life gives us no guarantees, but how it came to this boggles the mind.

At the other end of the spectrum is our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter Roslyn, making her first courageous steps in the world, and our brand-new granddaughter Bridget, not quite a month old, both of them with (I hope I hope) long and lovely lives ahead. Roslyn becomes a big sister in July (a boy already named Sullivan) and there’s another grandchild (ultrasound says a daughter, but my gut is not convinced) due in September. A niece is due in July as well, and a nephew’s wife in September, so we’re in baby-city. With all the rapid changes I’ve seen in my scant 57 years, I wonder what they will see. Will life be good to them? Will they experience wonders? I pray whatever comes that they have the will and strength and resilience to ride the wave.

Smack in the middle of all this is my adopted son Jake, leaving today on deployment to the Middle East. He’ll be gone a year and I’m sure God will get tired of hearing me ask that he watch over him and keep him safe. I’m greedy. I don’t want to lose him. I don’t want to lose any of them. Where’s the button to push that keeps everyone well and safe?

Still it’s that wobbly dance of balance, first one way then the other. And pretty amazing for all that. Pretty damned amazing.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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4 Responses to Circles

  1. I hope that Jake stays safe and that you enjoy having all those new little babies around.

  2. Shelly Belly says:

    Beautifully and simply put. So much love and new respect for you. ❤

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