Friday, October 1, 2010

Everything Is Illuminated

The whiteboard calendar at home hangs in the kitchen, with a different color dry erase for each family member. Lola is orange ( her favorite color this past year ) Dakota purple, Ian blue, and Mr. Curry and I the fat pink dry erase that came with the board. In September, Lola added Special Moma and Lola Day I Love You to the board for the Saturday we spent, just her and I, roaming around town. We ate at California Pizza Kitchen and made up our own simple Pictionary game: Lola creates the catagory, usually Animals of some kind, and each of us take turns drawing something until the other person guesses correctly what it is or gives up. Lola is especially savvy at this game and guessed to my astonishment the flying squirrel and then the polar bear before I had made a second line.

This last month was a doozy. I swam in the morass of my mind and flailed about as I am bound to do, a bit out of breath, terrified, demoralized and uncertain, but absolutely bound by the comfort of the rules of love: never give up, never quit, never stop looking for answers, and no matter the emotional pain never relinquish the loyalty of your heart to the quicksand sink of blind lashing out. Of course I did anyway- I lashed out. But my rules are guidelines based on humanity, not absolutes, and what they provide for me are signposts, so that when I do mess up, do lean too far overboard, I become aware that I am doing so, and pull back. Take a breath. Break the pattern and jump when expected to walk or sing when expected to weep so that I can trickstart my brain into a new neurological pathway.

Without zoloft these things come far slower and with more effort and pain than I am comfortable to own, more mistakes than are good for anyone. And still I did it. Whenever I have a life crisis, a true fear inducing happening to my immediate family, there almost always comes a point where I am suddenly and brutally made aware of how blessed and lucky I am, I still am, despite. And how much worse, how much terribly worse, life can truly get. My own childhood calls out with it's bleached and stricken memories to remind me. The story of Kate's cancer reminds me, her mother's desperate pleas for prayer and for ballast while facing what is not truly able to be seen from all angles, only one horrible vantage point at at time: not bearable. And Henry and Kate, who I think of many times each week. No one wants to be the worst case imagining, but eventually, we all lose. Eventually death and disease and the firewall of loss in all it's forms climbs over us in some form or another, so that we turn our heads North, South, East and West and realize there is no other horizon to lean away from, that this setting sun is our own, it's flames in our hands.

I wept at night and thought of those in pain that I cannot truly imagine or bear to try. And knowing that tomorrow might bring something that would make today look enviable, comforting even- it did it's magicks, and I began to recover from the panic. To breath. To look at what was happening and my children's faces and my husband's face and the small fiercely strong bulges of baby in my stomach and to accept that I am blessed, I am in the Spring of my life, and I better see it clearly now, feel it keenly, embrace it truly, because these days will never come again.

And to see it is also painful. To look into Mr. Curry's face and truly feel the force of my entire love for him knocks the breath out of me. To run my hand over the tiny shoulder of my pre-pubescent daughter and watch her expressive, lit face is to encounter the exact eye of the storm- the place where love condenses outside of the chaos, the physical embodiment of that emotion, that commitment, that daily flesh. And the boys. My boys. Dakota and Ian and their teenage sweat, smirking laughter, raucous joy and anger, unruly tempers, passionate opinions, long loping strides, the knotted ropes of new muscles down arms and legs, the height and mind determined to be a man but the spirit and heart still such boys. To hold them and to have them let me hold them for the one, two precious seconds they can bear, is to hold youth itself and the bear and beauty of childhood coming free from it's husk.

I am in the 8th month of this pregnancy and the ups and downs of emotions are still sending me careening, with all I have to cope with and struggle with. And. I am in the 8th month of this pregnancy and know that if I were not struggling with these people, this pack of mine, hurting for them, fighting for him, loving in the daily and in the other world we feel but do not touch, then nothing would be hurting, because there would be nothing where they are anything like what they are to me. As I said before about Mr. Curry- there are other things, yes- but not this thing.

Dakota is now surrounded by the trenches we have dug- Mr. Curry, my mom and I. He takes a step toward blackness and one of us is annoyingly and persistently there, holding the alternative out. We made a plan. We are enforcing it. Dakota is doing X and Y. These two things are costing my mother an enormous amount of money and our entire family a restructuring of time and work schedules and sleep for the next few months. This book is saving my daily do. Mr. Curry is ... exactly the reason I ever wanted to be married. Nothing is certain. Things could get worse. ( please no... ) What is true is that the worst has not happened yet, and might not happen, and we are doing everything. everything we can to love Dakota up to solid ground.

My whiteboard tells me a story. It tells me about meetings and phone calls, switched schedules and paperwork, it tells the story of plotting what feels unmanageable. Organizing time to make out with Mr. Curry isn't romantic- or is it? What could be more romantic that having the hots for your husband so bad you are willing to put it in hot pink ink on a white board to make sure it happens? Or to realize your daughter needs one on one and make it a so with some orange dry erase?

Sometimes love is most romantic in it's most practical forms. It is the mundane acts of simple lives that can end up encompassing the true heart and soul of a family, the step and step and step again dullness of daily life that hard work and sacrifice can illuminate into something far more beautiful and real and moving than any flowers, parties or fancy gifted presents or moments can do. Everything is illuminated.

mosey said...

You write in a way that makes me wish I had the... what... courage? skill? to write out my own anguish and gratitude in a more eloquent way.

I'm especially grateful for the reminder that even months that are doozy's can be full of grace.

Mandy said...

You make me realize I need a dry erase board to try and keep track of my life (and the little people's lives). Well, theirs more so than mine.

sarah_ontheroad said...

Such exquisite poetry. You write for so many of us.

Thank you for saying what I often can not, in words I know and love but don't know how to put together myself... in ways that perfectly capture the exact soul of the thing... and that skip and glide and tumble across the screen to make me smile while I shed a tear or two of shared understanding.

Marion said...

I've said this many times, I know, but you are a fierce Mother-Warrior and your family is lucky to have you. Hang in there. Blessings!

Annie said...

Hi Maggie, Thank you for this. Your whole post, and the final paragraph is a guiding light, not just for you, but for me, and for others. You are a beautiful writer, and a beautiful person.

amber said...

I wish I had grown up in a family that had caring parents like you and your Mr. It may have been my salvation in some of my darkest days. I am reminded of something Dr. Seuss said in one of my favorite books: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not. so keep on trucking. you are doing a mighty fine job in my eyes.

erin said...

I totally forgot about katie allison and henry.

When I was younger with two little babies reading katie's blogs and essays about co-sleeping and attachment parenting helped me through some really rough times and gave me the strength to combat naysayers of either of those practices.

Nice post today Maggie.

Jason, as himself said...

Yes. Yes! I am envious of your writing talent.

And the issues with terrifying, isn't it? Dealing with my own highly troubled teen in the hardest thing I've ever done.

Ms. Moon said...

Ah. When we meet in real life- remind me to tell you the story of the time I crawled under the house with Mr. Moon. The WHOLE story.
Romance is one thing and love is another and sometimes they do meet and sometimes love is hauling someone to higher ground.
You know all of the above.
I love you.

Still Life With Coffee said...

You are so good. Love love love it all and especially that amazing last paragraph of yours.

Ida Mae said...

i love this..
and you are so right with this
"Sometimes love is most romantic in it's most practical forms. "

so right, that I thank you for the reminding of it

I simply can't wait for you to have your baby; your Ever!
~Ida Mae

justmakingourway said...

Posts like these always make me feel closer to you. You write in a way I can't - expressing things that I recognize, but could not get out in such beautiful and moving words.

Petit fleur said...

Love you.

Middle Child said...

A beautifully written post that says so much - its wonderful to read posts where people draw youu in to things about them that are so personal but happen to us all . I thinking that sharing the human story may one day be the tiil which brings people to a greater understanding and feeling for complete strangers that might have been friends apart from the huge size of this planet

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Just sending love, dear Maggie.

Wishing you strength,


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