I am in Amsterdam, with my mom who is the perfect companion for whatever fleshy bag of sadness is now Masha. She knows that parks are off-limits on our daily walks, that some streets are too scary and beautiful to walk down, that I can only eat one salad at that one cafe at 3 PM and that suggesting I take a shower will bring me to tears. She knows when it’s time to kick my cousin and my nephew out of the apartment because a thunderous wave of grief is about to crash. She knows that manicures and massages are impossible because I can not stand to be touched.  She has figured out that it’s better for me to fall asleep on the tiny couch, uncomfortable and in my clothes than in the bed, where I have nightmares all night long. She celebrates with me the one or two moments a day where I manage to enjoy something- that salad at that cafe, a breeze on my feet, a book. She reads to me until I fall asleep.

Two days ago she took me to the doctor when my ear and jaw started to hurt.  On the way there,  I started to cry when I saw  a stork perched on a boat, looking into the distance, his feathers ruffled by the wind. “He’s in pain too, he knows what this feels like,” I managed to get out through my sobs and then I tried to hug him. My mom lead me away, gently. Further along the canal she patiently waited while I tried to stroke a duck’s head because with him too I felt communion, but he just wanted food. She joined me in a big “fuck you” to a beaten up wooden boat named “Meant To Be.”

Once we arrived, the doctor delicately told me that there was no physical cause for the pain in my jaw. And he told me that I have beautiful, healthy tonsils. That brought me to tears too, that someone, an unbiased professional sees some part of me that is still beautiful and healthy. And I have never loved my mom or my tonsils more.

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