In a time where so much can feel impertinent and irrelevant The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs is every bit important and necessary. In her memoir about living and dying she allows us an opportunity to step into her world. The world of a beautiful, intelligent, funny and loving woman diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. We fall in love with Nina even when we know it will not turn out how we’d like. There lies the beauty of it all- sometimes, many times, often times it is not what we would like. And yet we keep living, loving, dreaming and reading. She is honest, tenderly and brutally honest. She makes us laugh and cry. She makes us softer and stronger at the same time.
For me it’s been a busy month full of beautiful moments. I am a lucky woman but I am exhausted. My journal reads: frenetic, adrift, constipated- these are my feelings I’m too tired to write a proper entry. It’s all I can muster and it helps. Writing it down always helps. After writing these words down I close my eyes, take a deep breath and wiggle my butt as per usual before opening any book. I’ve decided to stay in bed and read a book for pleasure instead of studying. My used copy of The Bright Hour has been sitting in a stack for weeks after having arrived sans dust cover.
The first words feel like a soft warm blanket. So unexpectedly tender that I immediately begin to cry. I haven’t cried in a while and am grateful for the warm tears rolling down my cheeks. I fall in love with Nina so instantly, so instantly in love. Nina feels like a dear friend of mine a kindred spirit. She approaches dying the same as she does living. She acknowledges there is just as much in both instances: depth, value, beauty, and grief. I think of the love her family must have had for her the tears more abundant with this thought. I fall asleep after a while. Thoughts of Nina and of my sister wake me up.
I grab my phone and send my sister a flurry of blue bubbles. I tell her about the book I am reading. I tell her I cry with every page. It reminds me of my own tenderness and softness I say. It softens me and makes me more tender and in that way the world is a softer more tender place for me, to me, because of me. I urge her to continue working on her film project because these are the things we need. My kids come in the room and jump on top of me. I put my phone away and kiss their heads gently then massage their dusty feet.