Waves and Radiation

I’ve been waiting days to talk to my hubby about gravitational waves.  This past Sunday I woke him up jabbering about it, trying to understand it, hoping that if I repeated what I’d heard and read on NPR, it would make sense in my elementary-school-level-science brain.  I don’t pretend to have a scientific mind at all, but the idea of gravitational waves had me fascinated at 8:00am on a Sunday.  My husband mumbled something about wanting to go back to sleep and asked if we could please talk about it later when he’s fully awake.

That was days ago.

Time for scientific discussions is hard to find for two working adults with a 2-year-old tornado of a toddler.  Our conversations are brief and mostly revolve around his care.  The rest are delegated toward our other responsibilities.  Having a conversation about something as huge and as trite as gravitational waves seems like a luxury reserved for a date night, to be savored slowly like a gourmet decadent chocolate dessert.

As it was, we finally discussed it in between bedtime and our latest Hulu binge-watch session of Parks and Rec, during the washing of the dishes.

Lest you think this post is an attempt on my part to spout some kind of science lesson on a blog that is mostly about wrestling with loss, allow me to set your mind at ease.

Because in the middle of our discussion, in which we played the parts of two excited children sharing what we think we possibly understood about Einstein’s theory, my brain went elsewhere to my own black hole that is tearing a cosmic gash in the fabric of my universe.

Days pass and I stay busy.  So very busy.  I’m trying to reach some new goals in between reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and emphasizing the importance of learning shapes and colors to my dear sweet son.  I also have a job and friends and I don’t let myself think about grief and sadness because it slows me down at best, or stops me for days at worst.  It’s always there.  I just try not to get too close to it.  I stay on the outskirts, finding meaning and purpose and making sense of it from a safe distance.

Until something changes.  A hiccup, a trigger, or a series of choices all at once.  I find myself asking why.

Why am I here.  Doing this thing.

It could be anything.  Literally any stupid little thing, as insignificant as lingering outside for a moment to feel the breeze.  This time, it was something I had read about being a fan of a band.

I had written something similar myself a year and a half ago, but then I found myself reading someone else’s perspective, and I started thinking about it again in the background of my mind.  I even had a dream about it.  For days, I just thought about these gravitational waves and fangirling over a stupid band, and in my reality and my here-and-now, both seemed rather foolish from the perspective of a work-from-home mom who can’t even find 5 minutes to have a conversation with her husband that isn’t about Sesame Street.  Who gives a care about some band? I asked myself.

Oh, that’s right.  I do.  I did.  And it has become sort of a joke now, I guess, amongst my friends, in the way that when your friends know something about you, they use it to rib you.  And I usually just roll my eyes and roll with it, because I know I’ve set myself up.

But sometimes, in the harsh light of day, it’s a little embarrassing.  From a certain perspective, while harmless, it’s still foolishness.  And sometimes I think perhaps I’ve made myself into a spectacle, and I’m tempted to set the whole thing on fire and burn the fangirling to the ground.

Why am I here?

Why do any of us do anything?  We are made up of a million choices, the result of millions of decisions.  More if you want to go even further back.

But for me, everything about who I am now is orbiting around a single event in my universe, the waves of which I still feel and affect everything I do.

And as the spiral grows tighter, and my subconscious draws closer to the reason for my reasons, there at the heart of this orbit, pulling everything into a giant vacuum, is a quiet dark room with three people in it, and two of them are dying.  One of them is already dead.

It was almost 5 years ago, but it’s happening now.  It’s always there.  I just try not to get too close to it.  I stay on the outskirts, finding meaning and purpose and making sense of it from a safe distance.  Black holes spell death for celestial bodies.  At any moment, I risk getting pulled into oblivion.

But I choose not to let it define me, and by doing so I have relieved some of its power.  A universe expanding, I am constantly creating and building in all directions – even if some of them seem foolish.  It’s a blip on the radar, a moment in time, a band or a breeze.  It’s why I am here, but it’s not who I am.

I hope one day soon I will finally be at peace with all of this.  For now, I just try to avoid feeling alone at all costs.  I know I am not – I know there are some out there who are living with their own black hole, some of whom may even be reading these words – but truthfully, more often than not, the feeling of being alone pursues and haunts me, and it’s terrifying.

For now, I just try to take a moment to reflect on things like gravitational waves.  Sometimes they are long and loud and sometimes they are ripples, but still felt, and if you look closely, you can see them in eyes, across faces, between the lines and beneath the surface, as we delicately balance destruction with expanding hope at the speed of light.