Friday, October 14, 2011

Have Mercy

All around me there are the endings of life. A small conversation with Lola, in the cup of sun on the patio, explaining the Buddhist story of the tree that loses a leaf, the leaf falls to the base of the tree. Slowly, dirt absorbs the leaf and it's properties until it is 'gone'. The tree absorbs the soil, and so the leaf becomes part of the tree again. It's a simple, simple story that is an enduring comfort for me. I think of it, turn it over in my mind during fear, like a wishing stone. I imagine the unknowing peace of a leaf. The unconscious death and life and death and life. I think of my Grandmother Elizabeth, Ever Elizabeth's namesake, buried ten minutes from here, in a small rolling hill next to trees and a horse farm. All the leaves that fall onto her grave, and my Grandfather next to her. I think of ' energy does not die '. I run my fingers over Mr. Curry's stubble, watch his eyes flicker behind the lashes as he watches T.V. The light from his eyes, where will that be? Ever's tiny body, the ridiculous miniature of the anklet of a ten month old baby. The shooter in the hair salon, eight dead. The sweet eyed Jack of Charlotte's Inch Of Grey blog, drowned weeks ago in the rushing darkness of a storm down the street from his home. Twelve years old. I think of my mom's brother David, my Uncle, drowned in the nearby lake at fourteen years old, long before I had ever been born or imagined. I think of my oldest son, his intelligent, tender and prideful spirit, the incredible plunging into my heart that happened when he was born, the immersion like a baptism, eternal. I pray for him because at seventeen there are not so many object forces and subtle guidances anymore. I pray for myself because I feel so weak inside. So tired. So scared. I feel so inadequate to the job I myself took on! Mothering these four children. I think of ' took the wind out of her sails ' and sigh, a long motherly sigh, deep inside the dark quiet of my slumbering kitchen, where only the cold noses of my dogs rest on my lap or hear me cry. I think of ' warrior spirit ' and ' women who run with the wolves ' and rise in the morning like it is every other morning and not like my heart is trembling in my hands like a rabbit's heart, cut out after the arrow made it's mark. I think of Kate McRae and her mother, always her mother, waiting for the next set of MRI results that will show her the tumor in her daughter's small brain, and how it has or has not grown. I think of the power and assuredness of the parenting of small children. I think of the insecurity and doubt and helplessness of parenting teenagers. I hear Lola saying ' Momma you are the best Momma in the world. There is no one like you in all my friends moms, and I never want you to be like them, or anyone else. You are my strong and loving Momma. You make everything possible. ' And I hear my oldest son telling me these same things, not so many years ago, who is now both strangely closer to me and further away than ever before. I think of Caroline and the depth and spirit and strength I feel whenever she speaks of mothering, and how comforting that is to me. How comforting is real. How comforting is honest life and love from another. How comforting to know we are not alone. I think of the leaves on my Grandmother's grave, the hands of my daughters on my knee at night, the faces of my sons, the spirit of my husband with me in the dark. I think of prayers, of churches at nighttime, of knotholes in trees, of leaves on mountainsides, of the rain, I think of the first time I held my firstborn, and I am weak in the knees and the heart. I think of the first time I held my lastborn, and I am strong. All around me are the beginnings of life.
Shaista said...

This is my favourite line - 'How comforting is real.'
A great writer is someone you want to quote, or who you do unconsciously quote. You are that writer.
I love the story of the leaf, and have you read the way Thich Nhat Hanh writes about his conversations with the autumn leaves in Plum Village?
I like this old saying too..
'In three hundred years
Where will you be beloved?
Where will I?'

Petit fleur said...

I'm with Lola here. She really says it all.

You may not be my momma, but if I got to choose one... you'd so be in my top picks.
xo

Elizabeth said...

Oh, yes.

Lone Star Ma said...

yes.

Allison the Meep said...

I think of these things all the time. Sometimes to the point where I am so caught up with the grief that I will one day lose everyone I love, that I am unable to focus on the moment and just be grateful that I am even alive. That I ever got to experience these beautiful and heartbreaking things, even though I will lose them all one day.

Varda said...

Yes, yes, yes. Just beautiful. I have spending my days in the hospital this week, sitting with my 89 year old mother who had a fall. That does bad things to one's head, and I needed this today. Thank you.

Phoenix said...

Beautiful...just beautiful.

CitricSugar said...

I love how your writing, particularly this piece on the cyclical movement between life and death, starts with one and ends with the other. You have such a wonderful sense of continuum.

Caroline said...

Oh Maggie. Your words are so alive--I am lost inside them. It is YOU that comforts me.

Jen said...

Beautifully written. You certainly have a wonderful way with words. I feel everything you write.

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