breathed into life by a
and a Man
I will make you
all these years later
I walk all the edges
of another woman’s storm
the signal tracks
coast of Texas
all the way to the Pacific
can you be there?
that is what I would think if I were your mother
I would search the shore,
and the faces of
friends and strangers
for signs of my missing
the connection is poor
(a pre-paid call, of course…)
and you have to ask all
the hard questions yourself
even though the answers are
why did you do it?
and why were you angry?
and what does it mean when I know
every word between us
the things you have taught me
to sit in a room
meant for song
and watch the women in the room
My little one wanted to go to the beach. His cuteness trumped democracy and we went to the beach instead of the park.
While there we witnessed a bullying incident I would classify as both assault and child abuse. A group of older children were repeatedly dragging a little boy through the water and pushing his head down under the waves. He was crying.
When I realized what was going on I yelled for them to stop and asked the people on the shore who was responsible for the teens? An older woman announced that she was and that the little boy was being justly punished for throwing sand into a teenage girl’s eyes.
I was appalled and shaken. In any other place I would have immediately called 911. Here, I am convinced they will not respond. I took my kids to our van and continued to eye the situation with the abusive family. I filmed the woman briefly and attracted her threats and fury. I did report the incident to the police but am unconvinced I did enough. I should have begun filming immediately and called 911 immediately. I think now that I should have waded into the water to physically intervene and asked the boy directly if he needed physical shelter. I should have stayed with him and insisted on intervention.
It was not enough. And now I will be forever haunted by a little boy, helpless among his own.
note-this had another name in the title, I changed it to a guy I do actually think is pretty heroic
you are a crime victim
your child is a crime victim
the family itself has been
smashed from the inside out
from the core of who you were
the sense of safety
and all that remains
is the awareness of sharp edges
narrow ledges next to deep waters
where predators reside
everything has changed
simply because a truth has been revealed
no one is ever really safe.
I would like to lie and tell people I am and have always been an immaculate, no competent housekeeper. I can’t. I am a mess. We live in a big, sprawling old house with lots of old wood and lovely fixtures. It, like me, is a mess.
It, unlike me, is getting a makeover.
We have spent the last few weeks painting like mad. I do not need tattoos, I have a permanent patina of paint splatter. I miss writing and going to the pool, but the house has never looked this lovely. It’s walls have been transformed from early childhood scrawl to a warm cream color. Old carpet has been pulled up and is gradually being replaced with the miracle of click flooring. Our back room is a riot of sawdust. I cringe at the cleaning jobs ahead. But I like the transformation.
The day we cleared out the old master bedroom it was a war zone of random objects, now it is clean, painted and airy. We call it the beautiful room.
Last night I drove at dusk to the recycling bins. Not usually a romantic journey. But last night the sky was awash with splendor. I looked up at the picture that Titian would have envied and I wanted to exclaim aloud, how can you not see Him? His skies are so purposefully beautiful.
I would have been very happy to pay someone to paint my house. I am very grateful for those who have helped us with the work, especially the kids. But ultimately I have to acknowledge that God has called me to this–a lot of time to meditate on what it means for a baby to be born to a carpenter and even though he could have been an emperor, a scientist or a king, he spent his days building ordinary things with his hands, each strike of the iron nail into the wide beam a reminder of His real job, the cost of love.
The beautiful room.
By the time M was two she had a fully realized world of people she had created. They were and are vibrant characters. This past year she wrote a story peopled by punctuation marks. Also quite interesting.
I say this because she is a beautiful survivor. She was being abused by Charles when she created her first kingdom. These people we still love.
But she is haunted as well knowing that Charles continued to abuse her little sister for a long time after she asked him to stop abusing her. She assumed he would not abuse her little sister. She was seven.
I am haunted by the abuse as well. There is a wall in my life that signifies S’s solitary hurt. One night this week I wrote on it, first a memorial, then a Bible verse, then a picture of a cross. Then I got an idea. I realized that my children’s vividness overcomes evil. Jesus brings new life. So I painted a chalkboard over my grief wall.
First we wrote each other love notes. Then M drew Mr. and Mrs. Whiskers. They are English cousins of Harvey and we love their accents.
When she tells me about the Whiskers, I just hug her really tight. It is grace to see an ordinary resurrection of something as pedestrian as a wall.
Here are some markers–I struggled with a sadness so strong when I was young that I frequently wished for death. God would tell me, hold on, it will get better. Your storms almost killed me. How many times did you tell me you did not love me?
When I was 17 I saw that dad was not the bad guy.
When I was 22 I realized that I would have to weather your storms to make wise decisions
When I was 30 I faced my monsterization-just like grandma and grandpa.
When I was 30 I heard you hurt me viciously and intentionally.
When I was 34 I faced your mental illness.
When I was close to 40 I talked to you about it. That did not go well.
For over 15 years I have weathered your vision of me–a monster.
I know you love your dogs more than me
You sided with a pedophile rapist over your grandchildren, his victims.
I do not believe this letter will reach you.
But it is the last way to say
I love you, get help
You need help.