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  • A picture of two birds this morning and a party last night brought to mind Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, and that, in turn, made me think of a million things all at once.

    The wedding featured in the pictures at my hosts' house, a few days in Jamaica, a shared house. A downpour. Love. Laughter. Ziggy Marley following Mystikal to the stage at Jazz Fest. Dancing in the sun. Dancing the Thriller on the bow of a falucca, Marley and Egyptian techno weaving in the stillness along the Nile. Dancing the Thriller on the roof of a bar in Melbourne. Each memory led to another so I found and played the song to quiet the clamor.

    "Don't worry about a thing," Marley crooned as I held my head. "Cause every little thing gonna be all right."

    The words had never meant so much.

    Over the past few weeks, I played parent to my teen nephew and it was hard. Really hard. The weeks we spent together were the fifth, sixth and seventh of hosting my nieces and nephew this summer. He's a good kid, but I'm not a mom. His mom. Any mom.

    I struggled to balance parenthood and friendship as neither parent nor friend. From morning 'til night, I nagged about things like brushed teeth and packed lunches, letting beds go unmade and leaving clothes on the floor. I didn't mind cake for breakfast once in a while but breakfast needed to be eaten every day.

    Rise up this mornin,
    Smiled with the risin sun,

    "I'm fine, Lodi."

    "No, you're not," I sighed. "You need to eat something. You're going to be on the water all day and you won't eat until lunch. You need to eat breakfast."

    Every day, the same fight, the same conversations, as my life and my summer slipped out of my grasp, as I felt my outlook shift even as I fought to not let my diagnosis change me. I was tired, dizzy, anxious. My legs hurt. I stumbled. I fell, and it wasn't going to get better. It wasn't ever going to get better.

    Three little birds
    Pitch by my doorstep

    "Can I live here?" he asked.

    "I'm sorry, sweetie. The schools aren't that great. You'll do better at your aunt's house. That's one of the top schools in the country!"

    I injected enthusiasm and reason into my voice.

    Singin' sweet songs
    Of melodies pure and true,

    "Can you be my new mom?"

    And I wanted to cry.

    While he was with me, we worked on one thing, more than anything else: The Serenity Prayer.

    Sayin' (this is my message to you-ou-ou:)

    "Honey," I'd say, "you need to either accept things as they are and let go or you need to change them."

    Midway through the third week, I heard the sentiment repeated when he ended a call.

    Singin': Don't worry bout a thing,

    "He wants to move again!" he shouted against the world. "He doesn't understand. It takes time. He needs to just accept that. He needs to accept it or make a change. You have to work at things!"

    My heart nearly burst.

    'cause every little thing gonna be all right.

    He'd be all right without me but maybe staying with me, if only for a few weeks, had done something good.
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