Monday, May 16, 2016
A Tough Week--
I don't have the skill of pretending things are going to be okay. I don't have the kind of faith that reassures me everything will always work out. I lost that, ten years ago when I was going through a series of miscarriages like physical (and hormonal) blows and spoke with an old, dear friend whose husband--a ballet dancer-- had just dropped dead.
My friend's way of grieving was outsized rage. Mine was dripping tears on anyone who asked, "How ya doing?" including the nice lady at the health food store whose name I didn't know.
"I just want to be like those pioneer women," I told my friend. "I should be able to bloom where I'm planted."
My friend cackled like a maniac. "Pioneer women? My grandmothers were pioneer women, both of them. One of them died at thirty, just lay down by the side of the covered wagon and died. And the other went in-sane. I'm talking about a mental institution. In those days." (Believe me, she spoke with more emphasis than underlines could ever communicate.
"But God won't give us anything more than we can handle," I said.
"Of course!" she shrieked. "That's why there are no suicides."
My friend had a point. And her response was so refreshing after hearing, "Well, maybe God didn't intend for you to have that baby." (or that one, or that one or that one.) Or "My angel baby is in heaven and that's all I need to know," or--my favorite--"God needed that baby for someone else," which is a hell of a kick in the teeth while you're still bleeding and, oh, what the heck, lactating, for a pregnancy that has failed, because, obviously, God only had a finite number of babies to give, and we were deemed unworthy of this one.
It's harder to walk this world with the awareness that God sends babies and heals people, and also sends schizophrenia and sociopathy and Alzheimer's disease, let alone Stalin and Hitler and Pol Pot and the guy who grabbed a five-year-old and broke her nose and raped her last week. (That's if one believes in God, which, when you're looking at this whole unpretty picture, creates a very tough balancing act.)
The crazy thing is that I learned from this horrible time, just like some (horrible) people said I would--"Some day, this will be a blessing." (Oh yeah? Someday, I will have the courage to kick you in the teeth.)
It does help me to listen better, and I think people sense this, which is why total strangers will often tell me of deep griefs.
And it helps during tough times. Not a lot, but it helps. Because, sometimes, despite my very, very, very best efforts, I do life so badly. Sometimes, I don't listen right--to strangers or anybody else. Sometimes, my own fears get in the way of letting a child fail and then figure out a plan on their own--if they can. Which maybe they can't. So maybe I need to help them. (Right? There are no manuals for this kind of shit. Right?) So, sometimes, I forget to help my kid with a disability remember four-square breathing, and visualizing success, and instead, I push.
Sometimes, I blunder blindly, and knock over the dream house I'm trying to build. Sometimes, our whole family, for the most loving reasons, does it all wrong and then we all have to pick up the pieces and get moving again.
Others helped this week. The guy at the fair who sold me the painting that I'd been wanting for ten years now, but could never afford--giving it to me for far more than half-off because he's heard our challenges over the years as I hang there, admiring his wife's art work.
The artist herself, through her painting, (done in felted wool and studded with gems and stones and tiny sparkles that flicker like real stars in the sky.)
The lady at the glasses joint who spoke of that morning, with their little girl with juvenile arthritis. "I never imagined when I signed up for a second tiny baby that we'd wind up sitting on the floor in the bathroom for an hour, the whole family, trying to get her to put on pants so she could go to school, this crazy dysfunctional family going through every single pair of pants she owned trying to find a pair that didn't hurt her. Who knew this would be my life?"
The self-described "super-nerd," at the fair, who took off her antique walkman headset and showed us her sketch book filled with marvelously expressive bears interspersed with notes like, "There's a huge difference between being done and being finished," or "Trying to find the smile that says I'm still full of hope but doesn't show the gritted teeth."
My family, from youngest to oldest, who just keep loving one another, including the kid with special needs,--and the awareness that this kid knows how much we love, and that we'll always keep trying.
If there is a God, maybe God is this kind of blundering kindness.
And if there isn't, well, well, hell. Thank God for blundering kindness. We blunder on.
Top Art work by Bear Paw Paperworks and Fiber --this photograph does not nearly do justice to the texture and glimmer and peace of the artist's work.
Bear Art work by http://www.suerowe.com
This tiny sketch does not begin to do justice to the warmth and humor and humanity of this artist's work, much of it in exuberant color.
Please respect these artists' work.
I just realized--both of these artists use bears as a totem. There must be a message in that somewhere.