There’s a story where a man plunging from a roof doesn’t feel his own heft. At that moment, he’s light and weightless. Einstein calls it his “happiest thought”. Of course, it wasn’t the person’s eventual death after meeting the pavement that excited Einstein (which macabre end is what I tend to focus on), but the moment he’s unencumbered during the fall by what holds us to the ground. That situation eliminated gravity.
Perhaps I’m too close to the floor and aware of the consequence of diving into the earth to benefit from this theory. Most astronauts experience zero gravity, being in a simulation or far enough from the planet’s center to be affected by it.
As I am here (the substantial inconsequential), mass and proximity have their own plans. Falling from a height accessible to me will no doubt give the expected outcome. It’s not for me.
This got me thinking: what is my happiest thought? My eyes fall on the grumpy man working on his laptop. His curly hair is like fire on his head. All 125 lbs. of him is bearing down on the rickety black chair we refurbished last year—the very same he was sitting on when I choked and sprinkled a few drops of my coffee in his hot chocolate. Our eyes met. I apologized. And without blinking, he took a hearty drink.
There’s no question: he is my happiest thought.
Ours wasn’t a wind-in-your-hair, Jane Austen kind of romance. We got married on a June afternoon, with Ben looking dapper in a suit; his then long curly hair tied in a ponytail, and me looking like a flowering root crop, and tripping on my veil (with the videographer having a field day documenting it).
My husband and I have established a morning routine: bathe, eat breakfast, and exercise to slow down further muscular atrophy. Early in the morning, he’d lift me to the shower chair so that I could do my morning ablutions.
After much struggle, we’d be back in the safe zone where I’d stay nicely ensconced in a thermal blanket, and not fall and be a nuisance.
This is his daily declaration—a rich sonnet that my feeble self takes in. And while I’m sure he’s not comparing me to a “summer’s day” as he hauls me from seat to seat, he recognizes that, “Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116).
There is no dignity in disease. Pain is a truth-teller that forces its clammy hands through the fabric that holds you together, and strangles you with whatever’s left till decorum flies out of the window, and all you have is you, and your choices. I’ve seen this countless of times before, like back when Ma was alive and she called late at night, begging for me to contact Gran, whom she believed knew how to make it all stop. So I do understand when others would say, “Okay, that’s enough now.”
But I stay on because of love, or whatever it is that makes us do the unthinkable. Others carry cars over their heads to save their children. I, on the other hand, survive because of who pushes me to believe I exist.
K. Y. Sia is a freelance writer and editor. She does minor translations. Some of her works can be seen in Gangan Internationales Literaturmagazin, 3 a.m. Magazine, Locust Magazine, and so on. Despite having a progressive degenerative disease that has made her immobile and lose hand function, she continues to write using dictation tools.