A Tiny Mercy.

I went for an annual OBGYN exam earlier this week. I’d been putting it off for nearly six months, which is highly unlike me, as I am disciplined, perfunctory, steely-minded about routine check-ups. I consider preventative care a gift to my future self and my family. I go with the hope of catching things early, asking the questions that keep me up at night, and moving through life with fewer question marks. I wrote earlier this year that fixing my teeth “made space for better things,” and I feel the same way about routine/maintenance health care: a clean bill of health, or at least a diagnosis, clears my mind for more important things. But in this case, I’d disliked the first OBGYN I’d found after moving from NYC to Bethesda and had let myself go slack on the search for a replacement — a feint only thinly veiling my dread.

As with most things, the anticipation was far worse than the experience, and I felt weightless after I completed the appointment. But in the waiting room, and then as I frantically changed into my robe (as I always do, under the persistent misapprehension that the doctor will somehow barge in before I’ve changed — this, despite the fact that it has never happened, the doctors always knock and usually keep you waiting for too long, and it’s not as if modesty matters anyway given proximity to the impending exam), I found myself leaden with nerves. During the very routine questions the aide asked while tapping away proficiently on her keyboard to record my answers, I almost burst into tears twice: first, when asked about my pregnancies (three) and deliveries (two) and second, when asked about cancer in my family. I have spent so much time thinking about these matters, but somehow, the questions flew over the battlements and lodged in the tenderest and most vulnerable slope of my heart. I pretended to cough as I galvanized myself, rallying my wits about me, answering as simply and unemotionally as I could. But there are some questions that simply cannot be answered with a straight face, no matter how much time has passed.

After, I sat in my car with the air conditioning blasting and collected myself. I looked in the mirror and understood at once the shape of my earlier dread:

It was not immaturity or indolence that had led me to duck —

It was heartbreak and hurt I had not wanted to visit with.

And who would? I murmured, mothering myself, giving myself a tiny squeeze. You did great, I added, surprised when these almost half-baked words of reassurance seemed to gild themselves in mid-air, settling warmly, snugly across me. As I sat in that car, offering myself a soft landing, I was aware that I was in the presence of a small and peculiar kind of transcendence. Not the kind that Emerson wrote about, not the variety that changes the soul, not the sort that moves mountains or galvanizes communities or drops people to their knees. No, this was palm-sized and personal and so wafer-thin you might swat it away if you aren’t careful. Somehow, a tiny mercy had floated from the divine down to the doctor’s office parking lot, and I had been still enough to catch it.

This, it occurred to me, is prayer. The real kind: quiet, but answering.


+On my mother visiting Mary’s house.

+A humble thing.

+On turning 34: “I don’t know, and that’s OK.”

+On leaving New York.

Shopping Break.

+Boys floafers still available, but selling fast. I like the green and brown options.

+Into this versatile $110 dress in either the brown or the black — both great, chic staples you could pair with heels or sandals.

+I bought my husband this water bottle for the stationery bike but liked it so much I slowly co-opted it. Just ordered myself my own in the pretty pink color.

+These colorful glasses are so chic. I rounded up all my favorite kitchen/dining finds in one place here. A lot of these would make incredible purchases for Father’s Day if your dad/spouse love to cook! I actually just bought the glass cake dome I shared on that list because it was sold out forever! Mr. Magpie gave me the matching cake stand for Christmas but we’d been waiting for a dome restock. Can’t wait for it to arrive.

+Fun Bottega-inspired bag for under $50.

+Been hearing really good things about these $25 running shorts.

+Another fitness find in my cart: this twist-front Lululemon tee.

+These dramatic pants are SO GOOD.

+My kind of celebration dress.

+ICYMI: so many of us have ordered this hyped shave oil. Cannot wait to try!

+Just ordered this clutch organizer for my closet. I have one area that really needs some help in the organization department.

+Darling little statement bag.

+A great everyday tank at a great price. Love the stripe!

+Love the look of these casual everyday shorts for men. Perfect length.

+This colorblocked backpack is so cute in the primary colors for a little boy!

+These strawberry shorts for a little girl — too cute!

+Love this oversized flat heart necklace — under $50!

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