I meditate with my hot coffee next to me. It smells like home and comfort. I revel in the smell without having to drink. I hear a woodpecker in the distance, drilling into an old tree. I close my eyes and see him. I see his red head drilling into the dead tree behind my house. He is trying to find bugs in a dead thing. It reaches up, the tree, pretending to be healthy, but the woodpecker gives it away.
The garbage truck roars down the street, and Thor screams truck and scrambles to the window. The birds descend on my backyard and eat my seeds. The squirrels run from Jack.
A few weeks ago, a pounding noise woke us all. Beezus whispered, frightened, "What is that? Our house is falling, Mama."
It was a woodpecker on the outside wall behind our bedroom. He found the wood shingles. If he pecks long enough, a bug might emerge. He might eat. We banged on the wall.
GO AWAY, WOODPECKER! WE ARE NOT A TREE!
And it stopped, moments after it began. I already missed being mistaken for a tree, part of the landscape, the natural world of suburbia. Beezus told me a few days later that she felt a drop of water on her head. I turned my head to the ceiling, afraid of leaking roofs and burst pipes, and she said she was certain she got wet from the hole the woodpecker made through our wood siding, the plaster, the lathe, the ceiling. "It is impossible, my angel. He could not have made a hole that big in so short amount of time." Rain is coming in! Get umbrellas! Get a rainjacket! Hurry!
A man shot himself on Saturday night. He stared me in the eyes on Saturday morning and said, "Don't worry about me, Angie. I am fine. I feel good. I feel strong. I am fine. I am better." But I was worried, he looked tired and sad and could never say he was anything but fine.
There is a woodpecker burying its beak in my skull. It is incessant. Knock. Knock. Knock. It is exposing the writhing thoughts that turn over themselves. I shoo them away.
We all wrestle with wondering what we could have done. Knock. Knock. Knock. How could we have saved him? Knock. Knock. Knock. What words would have saved his life? Knock. Knock. Knock. How much more love could we have given him? Knock. Knock. Knock. How much more compassion? Knock. Knock. Knock. I think about their questions last night, the night before, the community reeling from the after effects of the suicide of someone who only said he was fine.
I stand. I wipe the morning off my face, scratch the sand out of the corner of my eyes. I make breakfast and finish the coffee, and dress the children, thinking about the moment between fine and not fine.