My New And Bittersweet Nails

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I pass the seasons by scraping old nail polish off.
I first realized this when I had my first post-heart attack manicure.  I was still very weak, having been cut open for a triple bypass, but I had recovered enough to stagger into the Venetian nail shop to regain some semblance of normality.
And I had lucked out; under normal circumstances, I would have gone into open-chest surgery with no pretty nails.  The oximeters they use to check the oxygen levels in your blood – mission-critical in a man with three arteries clogged at 99% – clip onto a finger, and read oxygen through your nails.  Almost any color will block it.
But in my case, I had a super-girly princess nail cut that faded to transparent sparkles at the fingertips, so the oximeter worked.  And the hospital staff, sensing I needed comfort, kindly left it on.
I had those nails for the better part of four months.  And when I went to my manicurist and they scraped them off, I looked at a tiny pink pile of glitter and thought, Well, that’s it.  That’s that era of my life gone.
And so when I sat at the manicurist’s this Sunday, with her scraping off my Art Deco nails, I thought: Well, that’s it.  All the pain of Rebecca’s final days, all the numb trauma of Shiva, all the shivering recovery – that time is over.
Except I wasn’t ready.
And fireflies have been tied to Rebecca this summer.  Fireflies are always my favorite part of the season, those glorious specks of bioluminescence winging about the lawn, appearing for a few weeks.  But this year, I literally saw the first firefly of the summer next to the hearse on the night of Rebecca’s death.  We’ve lived in this house for almost fourteen years, but we’ve never had a firefly loose and inside and blinking around, but that happened this summer.
I keep thinking: fireflies come, and they leave too soon.  But they burn bright.  And there is nothing, nothing else like them.
So I had Ashley my mad manicurist make me some firefly nails.
Hands up and touch the sky.
There are many tiny fireflies on my fingernails, and her craft shines here: the triple-fade, the hand-painted grass, the dots glow in the dark.
But on my nails, among the hundreds of fireflies, there is one that I told her to put on over the top coat.  That one is Rebecca.  And over the course of the next few weeks, the Rebecca on my nails will fade and vanish into the night sky, lost from sight.
But never forgotten.
(Nails by Ashley, who is on Instagram as La_belle_etrangere, who can be booked at the Venetian Nail Salon in Rocky River, Ohio.)

1 Comment

  1. Yet Another Laura H.
    Jul 14, 2014

    “Look, oh look! There go the fireflies,
    “I almost said,
    “But I am alone.”— Taigi
    My second-favorite haiku.
    The first is, alas, by Issa on the death of his daughter:
    “This world of illusion
    “Is a world of illusion.
    “And yet… and yet…”

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