Zoe

So I’m sobbing by the side of the street just west of her house remembering that late night I drove her home. The rain had made the streets flood—windshield as-if submerged—and we had all leaned forward in our seats to better view the spectacle, and there was a sweetness in the car.

The two older girls–Zoe and my daughter, Julia—had laughed about their work stuff, while my younger daughter fangirled over Zoe’s husky voice and vibrant kindness. And as Nature humbled us, we’d lived in this weird moment of an impeccable Now—safe, grateful; watching masterful deluge, together and untouched—and when we got to her house, she dashed out of the car and I watched her retreat, seeing exhilaration as she ran through the squall like she was a little kid again.

And most days since that night, I pass this house and utter a blessing that her family see themselves to better days. Because she’s 16, and rides her bike in all weather—snow, rain—trying to help her family. Her mom is fighting alcoholism and eviction while her deadbeat dad screams that Zoe’s behind in schoolwork as Zoe works full- time and breaks down at work telling Julia if her mom can’t pay court costs her little brother could be taken away and the entire light of Zoe’s world is when she comes home from work at night and her little brother runs and jumps into her arms.

And I don’t know what else to do for the suffering of the world but let my heart beat to theirs, showing up for others’ pain as if I was there, holding their hand.

So as I pass this house—most days—I relay my hopes to God or whatever energy calls back that Zoe and her family can persevere. That from the unpleasantness of their lives they create something of beauty. Most days, the pain and worry for them is palpable and I speak words softly into what feels like nothingness.

But not this day.

For on this day, night had descended and from within the world of a different vision, I unchained, until all at once, I’m stopped on the side of her street and my breath catches in short gasps.

For pushed up to the front window, curtains parted, white lights perfectly spaced and sparkling was their Christmas tree like it was the universe calling back.

Because from the space of a single second, the white lights of their Christmas tree seemed to lovingly say “please come home” and in the language of lights in the darkness, I lived inside her mother fighting the good fight, her brother carrying the love that makes Zoe strong, and the scene of a family excitedly placing their tree in the window.

And so it was that alone in my car, in the dark stillness of winter, air smelling of snow, parked to the side of the road next to their wood-framed house in Marmalade, that I covered my face with my hands and sobbed for the joy of everything.

For hardship is potent and obvious but whispering always are people leaning together against ferocity, and such it was that I listened to the magic of the universe singing softly as I fell into peace knowing there’s nothing more beautiful and triumphant than human beings trying to make a better life for one another.

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