The dishes whir in the dishwasher, the sun retires from this hemisphere. My husband responds to emails, the children collude with their computers to complete work while the dogs nuzzle them.  I am alone in the spotless kitchen. I listen to the rain and debate what will sate my soul’s parched tongue. I claim this transitional hour, when day gives way to night’s quiet dark, as mine the quiet a reward for a cacophonous day. A cup of tea? A glass of wine? Either will do because neither is what I truly crave.

It is certainty that is my fave.

The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, of that I am sure. As for anything else? Well, as each year passes the list grows ever shorter and less pure.

In my youth, I was certain dystopian futures were the stuff of fiction. 1984  “Orwell’s brilliant paranoia,” I would exclaim.  Now it reads more like a prescient predictor of “alternative facts” and “truthiness”.

I knew that my father’s death when I was 12 would color every one of my milestones. I was certain that I would live my life in shades of grey, joy tempered by loss. And that was a certainty, so it was okay.

But, now, as the world battles a narrative more treacherous than any collection of words, I wonder. A young doctor is marginalized in an effort to save face – then is slayed by the dragon he correctly identified. One man’s ego Trumps science leaving a nation endangered. We need data – yet we  fight the availability of tests that would deliver it. What is our malfunction?

We privileged humans are generous – until we are scared. We are certain of our anti-vaccine tactic until we close schools in defense of a virus for which there is no such prophylactic.

Was certainty just another youthful delusion? It seemed so real. I miss it so.

I miss logic, and data sets, governments that work – inefficiently, bureaucratically, annoyingly – to be of service to humanity. I miss the satisfaction of pointing a finger at the right cause. I am burdened by the nuanced wisdom that blame does not often matter – especially in the face of a pandemic.

I miss the certainty that humanity’s better angels always triumph. I miss the certainty that human nature was, at its base, good. I miss the purity of my wide-eyed heart.

My children are growing up on shaky ground , their school year disrupted by fire and now a viral plague. Will they ever be enveloped in certainty? Will they ever recognize a color other than grey?

I sip tea from my wine glass as the dishwasher whirs to rinse and tomorrow’s ‘to do’ list starts to gnaw its way into my peace. I hear my family’s fingers clacking on keyboards, their rhythm drowning out the sound of the rain.  And dream of the warm embrace of certainty.



2 thoughts on “Certainty

  1. ProfRobert says:

    My father-in-law grew up in Liverpool with his family. When he was a year older than my son is now, they were regularly bombed by Nazis. (They all survived.)

    Whatever is going on now, we’re not being bombed by Nazis. That’s an important perspective to hang on to.

  2. Clare says:

    Amy, you nailed it. As a mom, I’m supposed to have all the answers and somehow know exactly what to do. Right now though, it feels like I’m staggering through excruciating uncertainty and frenetic inertia, alternating between fear of overreacting and failing to do enough.

    No, we’re not being bombed by nazis, but these are scary times. I just wish we had a Winston or an FDR to figure out a game plan and then marshal the troops.

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