I'm in my car, on the road to work on a sunny, smoggy, warm day just before spring. I am listening to Mark Bramhall read Open Heart, Elie Wiesel's last meditation on his life, work, and approaching death. His frank unwillingness to see his death approach, even as they prepared to open his chest and heart, both inspires and appalls me.
The skilled voice gives a dying man’s words richness and humor, steers them away from self-pity or indulgence. Wiesel’s confrontation of his mortality and the contents of his heart turns my mind toward my mother. All discussion of hearts, open or not, does that now.
Now off the highway, I stop behind a cherry-picker truck at a stoplight. It is a kind I have never seen before—black-framed and huge, far longer than the utility trucks I am used to seeing in my neighborhood.
I see warning signs in both red/white and black/yellow color schemes, alternating between Danger and Peligro depending on who’s looking. Inanimate objects code switch more easily than I can. This both amuses and depresses me. Which is typical.
I drift between the words, so somber and reflective, and my own broody avoidance. She seems, as the dead so cruelly do, very near. That is not my feeling, but his. He speaks of a sister, lost, and found again in a granddaughter who bears her name. We are all the daughters of daughters, sons of sons. We are all lost and found again. I am not sure whose prayer that is.
Tears prickle behind my eyes. I take a deep breath, look up again at the black frame of the truck. Just in front of me, stuffed into a gap in the back frame, is a green bit of felt. It is the head of a Kermit the Frog doll. One eye is missing the black plastic that gives it context. The other stares blindly at me. It, he, grins in my direction. I am washed in nostalgia, bittersweet and full of lies. I laugh out loud. The light changes. Baruch Hashem.