Monkey in the Morning

Jordan’s Favorite Tea Cup

I relish mornings. It’s prime writing time. Quiet, new, open. Even though I was up until nearly 2am last night, it didn’t stop me from rolling out of bed by 7 without any help of the alarm. Twenty minutes later and I was sipping coffee, clacking away on a new writing project. I got so absorbed in it I almost didn’t hear Jordan foraging through the pantry. The back of her head was all that was visible between the oak doors. Her uncombed hair scattered about as she dug around looking for a box of cereal.

– How did you sleep, pumpkin?
– Oh, alright, but I’m a monkey today.
– And you’re a monkey who slept well?
– Yes, I am. Can you help me pour the milk?

I sat her down at the dining room table and fixed her some tea. When it was ready she asked for the monkey cup–a piece of china my sister sent her years ago. She doesn’t always ask for it, but there is no doubt she favors it.

– One eye open and one eye closed.

She spouted this out of the blue. No context. I asked her to repeat it, and she did. Again, I just stared back at her. She didn’t mind that I didn’t understand. She just kept eating her cereal and sipping her tea.

– What has one eye open and one eye closed?, I asked.
– A monkey, she said.

Then she pointed to the tea cup. Indeed, one of the monkeys is winking. Mystery solved. And then, in a way that only Jordan can, she linked it back to herself.

– Just like me.
– You like to wink?
– No. Remember when I saw two daddies. I closed my eye so there would be only one.

It’s the way her memory works and it always catches us off guard. She was referring to the time when she first showed symptoms, long before an actual cancer diagnosis and shortly before her first surgery. Diplopia, they call it. There was so much pressure in her brain that the optic nerves were affected and she began seeing double. That was when we knew her headache was more than a sinus infection. It was more than six years ago, yet she still remembers it.

Perhaps the winking monkeys remind her.