I’m not sure why I found it so endearing, the surgeon’s always saying, upon hearing his patient’s slightly hopeful rephrasing or reply just after he’s been told the how and the why of the surgery or recovery, a fine-mineral fear inset in optimism, “From your mouth to God’s ear.” The surgeon said it encouragingly, with a smile. Considering it, it took me only a little while to realize what it signified: “We can’t really know, but it’s good to hope so. Who knows? Let’s hope so. But also don’t mistake my taking of a measure, my neutral explanation. Elsewhere is your treasure or rescue, if any exists. Nothing is promised, either.” By then, I was content to drift in uncertainty’s ether.
When my grandfather was ninety-two, he swung at the first pitch he saw. He made contact. What we remember is not the roller towards short, or the stunned cheers of the church-supper crowd. What will not die is the briefest of moments when he broke for first, forgetting his decades. Habits of youth buried came sparking to life. He broke for first, and unless our eyes deceived us, he tossed the bat away and pivoted like DiMaggio. It seemed—the grounder I mean—a luxurious grace, a sidelong benediction to brighten the waiting days.