Aside

On sadness and grammar

Today is my mom’s birthday, and if she was still around, she would be turning 62. I’ve always been taught to avoid using forms of the infinitive “to be” as my main verb, as it creates a passive sentence, the enemy of the compelling writer. Subjects should exercise power. Never relegate yourself or your loved ones to the position of the weak object. Action, action, action.

When speaking or writing of certain topics, though, I feel as though I am unable to exert any force. I don’t have the heart to actively “do.” I am a weightless, forceless object acted upon by my surroundings, tossed about by the wind and ripped apart by the elements. The blood in my veins meanders. My brain’s impulses shuffle to and fro. My smile slips and creaks. Even my tears seem directionless, pausing at the crook of my nose, loitering on the edge of my lip.

I know I am not the only one, and my sadness is shared. I know this injury is old and this pain is stale, but it remains, as it is known to do, as it does for everyone. It flares on days like today, but generally remains burrowed deeply and quietly. It has become a muscle that spans my whole body, fusing to every bone, picking up my feet again and again, stretching my arms wider, standing me up straighter, imbuing me with a power both foreign and familiar, alien and familial.

I am silently flexing this muscle every day, testing my strength and rehabilitating the parts of me that have atrophied. My heart groans with each beat and grows while it keeps time.  The days and nights switch places every so often while I am in training, aiming to climb the inclines and cliffs of a sentence diagram that has me pushed too close to the end, hidden behind clauses and under phrases, living on the wrong line.

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