Friday, May 23, 2014

love on the edge of eternity

in the dusk she wakes from time to time, her fat fingers moving slowly over my chest, looking for a nipple to pinch. it's milky dark and i am only awake in the humming furnace of my consciousness, the slow awareness that is just enough to recognize danger, sex, love. i feel her fingers and the annoyance is infused with love. this is the truth of my heart for my children that is not the truth of my heart for any other person on this planet, not even my human self- love is always felt. in the worst times, in post partum depression, in rage, in distraction, in eyeball popping irritation, in midnight sanctuaries busted by baby's cry, in the endless months of no reprieve that stretch before us through some teenage hell, in the face of mocking, rebellion, misdirected anger and dismissal, i can always feel love for my children. i never have to recall it or reach for it although at times i have had to pull it closer. if anything in my life was to make me believe in a higher spiritual order, it would be the cellular, omnipotent and omnipresent fact of the love i have for my children. i live in love because of them.

before my children it was as if an invisible wall of energy separated my heart from each human being around me. even the ones i held most dear felt distant, like planets that orbited with me, never touching. i felt profoundly alone in the world. constant anxiety and insecurity left me vaguely angry, then furious- filled with a rage that profoundly frightened me- as it should. this aimless drifter of rage is the dark heart of so many profoundly inhuman acts, as it comes from a desperate feeling of inadequacy and disconnection that turns over time, untended and untouched, into a merciless cold, a frozen heart. i can't understand how they could do that! the world cries like a Greek chorus after so many acts of violence. i sit quietly. i do understand how they could do that. i hate it, i mourn it, i fear it, i would do anything to protect my family from it- and i understand that the clock work of human civilization runs on machinery built bathed in emotion and the kindred, connection. when a human beings ability to connect to the world around is severed- through neglect or brutality- so is that person's ability to discern any longer why the rules matter, why any person matters anymore than an ant, a star. in the way that naked bodies standing all together begin to look alike, disconnection leads to this spiritual consolidation of human beings, one after the other appearing as remote as the moon. mental illness, soul sickness, existential grief, whatever you like to name it, it is a hollow and meaningless wasteland. the only remaining course of action is endless numbingness of the numb- moving toward death- acts of violence that break the emptiness and fill it with the noise of suffering, or love.

i was so lucky that love came quickly.
so lucky to have been born with a deep feeling for my connection to nature, so that when i was growing up and afraid and lonely, i could crawl underneath the honeysuckle bushes and lay my face against the dirt and have a real and unnameable experience of connection. i felt the world- the actual physical world of dirt and tree and water and sunlight- was my friend, although i understood that this same world would stand quietly by and let me be torn to pieces by a wild animal, let my mother's teenage brother fall into a murky Mississippi lake and never come up again on his own accord. still i felt a simpatico with life itself, and for this, i am lucky. this slender thread kept me from taking the steps over the cliff one, two, three steps to far. i danced on the edge. i held my foot over the ledge and tested the shift of my weight. i hurt myself, i hurt others. and then i became pregnant with my first child, and it was as if every good and true and important thing that i new about the world's makeup, the delicious dirt, grass and stones, bark and leaf, flower and river, beast and mountain walls, had all rolled into one cellular explosion that was creating an entire new life inside of me.

when i hear young girls talking about how a baby is going to save them, be their best friend, bring them back to life- i understand. i empathize. of course they are hopelessly naive, and wrong in many crucial ways, leaving out the desperation and helplessness and every day every moment not gratefulness of children- they do not understand that it is not a reciprocal relationship in the way that they imagine. and not every parent loves their child, this we do not say, but it is as true as the fact that many parents love their children more than they they were capable of loving anyone, anything. yet--
for me, it was perfect. it was the best thing that could have happened, and it didn't matter to me that our relationship went one way for most of the trip. i just wanted a child to take care of before all others, a child to devote my innermost self to, a child for whom i could sacrifice everything and who would give meaning to a life that felt meaningless to me, a life full of tedious jobs, friends with drama that never ended but meant nothing, a brain that seemed to endlessly reset to the child i had been, needy, alone, afraid, sad. i took care of my child in the way i had formed in my mind from my books, the books i had read over the years that talked about honor, devotion, laughter, forgiveness, modeling, healing, hard work, long nights, the satisfaction of knowing you are doing the right thing, the endless meaning that purposeful sacrifice brings, the anchor that love can be to a life. this is what many of our romantic movies are made out of, but i did not find it in a man or a relationship, but as a mother. i knew i needed help, and i sought it in spades- i found a therapist and saw her for years, years, and i read and i prayed and i took up exercising, and i listened to tapes every night that helped me heal my anxiety and i took medication- and i loved my child with the fierce completion of a warrior. i nursed him and i held him and i never let him cry and i set boundries with a 'firm but loving' voice and i did everything with him and for him and i read to him and played with him and slowed down and explained everything to him and by the time he was two years old it was clear that he was the most confident, happy, kind, sweet, best boy that any mother could have wanted. 

and then i had more children and i realized that the love i felt for them had bridged the space between myself and other people that i had felt my entire life. i no longer felt alone in the world, a singular planet hung at the tip of eternity, but one cell of a singular planet hung on the tip of eternity. we are all in this together- i say that often, i deeply believe in the importance and truth of those words. i will never lose sight of that again. 

now i am mothering my last baby, my Everkins, and i love her and adore her so much that no matter how hard life gets, the light of that love infuses it all. even when i am frustrated beyond words and shutting myself in the bathroom for a moment of freak-out, i can still feel the complete adoration for her. she is the cutest, best smelling, snuggliest, sweetest voiced, most charming, smart, funny, most lovable and adorable child in the world. i love her beyond all reason. it is exactly this kind of unconditional, almost annoying love that builds the foundation for a lifetime of feeling connected to other human beings, that builds, i believe, the kind of people who know they are one cell in one planet on the edge of eternity. 

previous next