Nothing’s Ever Yours to Keep

By Nicola Ginzler

Sun is red, moon is cracked,
Daddy’s never coming back.
Nothing’s ever yours to keep,
Close your eyes, go to sleep.

—Tom Waits, Blood Money

So I’m driving the 25 miles down 101 from San Francisco to Belmont, CA, listening to the ever-cheerful Mr. Waits and crying my eyes out. I’m on my way to see my aunt Anna Grace, who is battling lymphoma, and is going to die of it within the year although neither of us knows it at the time.

Halfway there I have a revelation. Yes, Anna is pretty much my only sensible relative and I’m terrified of losing her. She’s one of my few remaining links to my dad, her brother, who died when I was nine, and also to the Jewish side of the family, with whom I’ve had very little previous contact. My weird and/or queer and/or biker friends think she’s great, and she’s gratified that they don’t treat her “like an old lady,” as she puts it. My prickly cat Lucy will even jump up on her lap and settle down.

So this revelation is that yeah, you can’t keep anything, things and people you love can be taken away at any time. But that doesn’t mean that nothing’s worth having. Some things are absolutely worth having. I’ve had fifteen years of love from Anna since I moved to California, more than I’ve ever had in my life from anyone I’m related to. Maybe I can sleep, with the knowledge of impermanence and inevitable loss.


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