Discover more from Jessica Slice writes about disability, poems, and waterfowl
I'll save the plastic goose story for another day
A big and grateful welcome to my new subscribers. I am so glad that you are here. I’d love to know a little bit about you if you want to message me on my website or comment on this post.
It’s been a busy couple of months with podcast recordings, guest posts, and panel appearances. There are links at the end to recordings for those who want to watch or listen.
The first crocuses are blooming in the front yard. The seagulls woke me up this morning. Last week, the north winds were so powerful that they knocked our neighbor’s wooden duck off of its perch on the retaining wall. Sure, we woke up to snow a few days ago but it melted in hours and it’s best for everyone if we pretend that didn’t happen.
It’s spring in Canada.
In December, Omicron hit our city early and hard. The promise of Khalil’s 5th birthday (vaccine!) and the end of the 5th wave were the carrots that kept us trudging forward. Khalil started back in school after March break and within days, we had switched snow pants for splash pants, another sign of spring, of change.
A few weeks later, local Covid cases started to go up, quickly. Wastewater surveillance, hospitalizations, and word-of-mouth made it hard to deny. Cassandras like me worried that the elimination of mask mandates coupled with the new Omicron variant meant that we were entering the 6th wave before the 5th had really abated.
Maybe it will just be a blip, David and I said to each other. He’s vaccinated, which should help.
Meanwhile, I have watched as the ranks of disabled people swell with those suffering from long Covid. My inbox pings with messages from those newly diagnosed with POTS. Doctors who treat dysautonomia suddenly have multi-year waitlists.
On a recent Friday, I woke up and said that we should keep Khalil home. I didn’t have a good reason — there were no active cases at Khalil’s school, and David and I both had busy days. We weren’t officially in a 6th wave. But I recognized that nudge in me. It was the same part that whispered, years ago, something is terribly wrong, even though Khalil just had a cold and I hadn’t yet seen him that day and had only heard one little cry from down the hall. And, on that morning years ago, something was terribly wrong — he wasn’t getting enough oxygen and within hours, he was hospitalized.
When we kept him home a couple of weeks ago, I felt guilty as he sat again with his iPad instead of in a classroom. Had that been instinct whispering, or just my fear?
But over that weekend and early the next week, we learned that Covid spread in his classroom on the Friday he was home. The people he spends his school days hugging were home sick with Covid. Simultaneously, our province declared that we were in a 6th wave and that it was worse than any other wave. They said 750 of every 100,000 people were getting Covid every day.
What if Khalil had gone to school? Honestly, the odds are that he would have caught Covid and that he would have been fine. So would I, probably. But I also know that when he gets colds that are statistically uninteresting, he ends up in the hospital. I know that when I get a slight virus, I feel awful for months and sometimes never fully recover. I know, in my bones, that these bodies are fragile. I live in that precariousness.
I wish it were easier to untangle trauma and fear from instinct and wisdom. I wish that it wasn’t so dangerous to be ill or disabled in our society. I wish someone else could make decisions for me for a bit.
Since becoming ill over a decade ago, I have been reckoning with my view of life from a disabled body. I’ve learned that all people live in fragile bodies in a brittle world. In these lives, nothing is promised but many things are good. I can continue to work to find the beautiful moments in every day and I don’t need to wait for life to be easier to appreciate what it teaches me. And, when I hear the little whisper that my most judgmental voice calls dramatic, I should listen.
Last weekend, I had the true honor of writing a journal prompt for Suleika Jaouad’s newsletter. It has been such a gift to get to know some of the other people in the stunning community that she has created.
It was a real treat to join Alyssa Blask Campbell for her Voices of the Village podcast. Her community, Seed & Sew, has been a huge resource for my own parenting and I loved talking more about how my disability interacts with and informs my parenting style.
Jennifer Fink wrote a stunning book, which you can buy here. I had the honor of joining her for a virtual book launch event at the inimitable Women and Children First. I watched part of the recording today and while I look sleepy (I didn’t notice that my blanket was in the shot!) I think I was mostly just very content. Thank you, Sarah and Jennifer.
I hope that, wherever you are, you are having beautiful moments and that you are safe. My favorite spring poem is below. Love to you.
Two Kinds of Deliverance
Last night the geese came back,
from the blossom of the rising moon down
to the black pond. A muskrat
swimming in the twilight saw them and hurried
to the secret lodges to tell everyone
spring had come.
And so it had.
By morning when I went out
the last of the ice had disappeared, blackbirds
sang on the shores. Every year
the geese, returning,
do this, I don’t
The curtains opened and there was
an old man in a headdress of feathers,
leather leggings and a vest made
from the skin of some animal. He danced
in a kind of surly rapture, and the trees
in the fields far away
began to mutter and suck up their long roots.
Slowly they advanced until they stood
pressed to the schoolhouse windows.
I don’t know
lots of things but I know this: next year
flows over the starting point I’ll think I’m going to
drown in the shimmering miles of it and then
one or two birds will fly me over
As for the pain
of others, of course it tries to be
abstract, but then
there flares up out of a vanished wilderness, like fire,
still blistering: the wrinkled face
of an old Chippewa
smiling, hating us,
dancing for his life.