Sweet love of mine

What a dream I had,

pressed in organdy,

clothed in crinoline

of smoky burgundy,

softer than the rain,

Was what I started singing last night after taking my youngest to the craft store so she could make a card to thank her favorite coffee shop for their ever-present kindness.

What a dream I had, sung in a mother’s tongue who in her child has witnessed the slow-emerging of a battle for the soul. Anxiety, depression, hospitalization, having shaken us out of safety when I wasn’t at all prepared going into motherhood that there might be times when they’d try to slip away. That there’d be times they’d drop into a hopelessness unconditional love couldn’t reach; where unprotected from the awful realness of the world—animal cruelty on YouTube; family darkness—the tender people could become delicate houses capable of toppling.

I didn’t know any of that. So sung the lyrics softly as if inside a home so delicate I dared not breathe.

But that was hours and a night ago.

And after the sun and sky woke, I raked the soggy leaves of a different season, and when my youngest returned from delivering her card, fast-forwarded into the more recent years.

For I did not know those things about motherhood; that into life can arise such pain. But as she told me about giving them her card—crossing her anxiety and depression to deliver it—I realized the darkness of a human life doesn’t get to be more true than the light that life can rise into.

Because as the tender people who wanted to give up bear acts of Love risen from wounds, dreams softer than the rain become rowdy celebrations, and we scream in the joy of growing bigger than the space we were given.

And as beautiful as softness is, screaming to the world about oh sweet child of mine holds power more becoming my new truth, and so floating with the tender people no longer just experiencing the world as they are creating it, I yelled lyrics in triumph about the beauty of the art project that is themselves.

[I wrote most of this sitting at Alchemy Coffee, the very coffee shop her thank you note— see pic— was written about; and while I was there, an older gentleman, a regular, was chatting with the barista about the music that was playing—The Doors—which I was also writing about and he said he saw The Doors at Lagoon (an amusement park) when they played there and that his first date was to see The Rolling Stones at Lagoon in 1966. History swirls all around]

Mama

[Quail mama and tribe, Taylorsville UT, 8/26/18. Look at that little ones legs flying back there. I didn’t get a pic of the ducks from this post because I was driving and kinda wanted to live].

On my way to a sit a few days ago, I was on the stretch of 700 East where it curves around and intersects with 900 East. It’s a wide road there–like 8 lanes I think–with a lot going on, stoplights, and turn lanes, cars barreling and others merging, and another stoplight up ahead synced up with the 9th East one, so that if the first light’s green, you don’t even have to think about stopping. You can just sit your ass in your lane and jet on through.

And it was late evening, but even through my speed and the curves, I could see something up ahead moving across the road from right to left, and it took me only just a sec to realize it wasn’t just one something: it was three “somethings”, a mama duck and her two babies, crossing this road, with cars easily going 55 to 60, mama in front and babies in back, in the hot dusk and barely visible, moving across the road at a pace suggesting they were well aware of the danger.

And relatively fresh in my mind was another sit I’d done at a complex with lots of ponds, when I’d seen this mama duck and her six or seven ducklings toddling around, and as I surveyed the scene of so many ducklings in my car, I had pulled up slowly and maybe because I’m a weirdo, rolled down my window to offer her my respect as one parent to another (’cause this shit’s hard, yo) and window rolled down, as her babies scurried close by, I was telling her what a good mom she was and enjoying the moment, before looking down and noticing that nearly right under my window was the completely flattened remains of a baby duck that’d been crushed by a car. The guts were relatively fresh, and it was literally so flat that while carefully driving up–with the remains smack in the middle of the road–I hadn’t even seen it.

So of course on that dusk-night, my mind went to “oh my god; they’re going to die,” because flattened ducks happen and sometimes happy endings appear so unlikely that it seems best not to hope.

I looked to my left at the big black SUV next to me–preparing to quickly look away from the carnage lest the driver not see the mama–but he saw them and slowed, and between the two of us, the little family got to the middle of the road where they then rushed into the lanes of the oncoming traffic and out of my view but, as I turned south onto 9th East, I just happened to look in my drivers side mirror at exactly the right time and saw that somehow the little duck family had also managed to safely cross the 4 lanes going the other direction and were now together and moving towards the brown grass of the far side of the road.  Out of immediate and imminent danger, hearts certainly racing, and marching forward, blessedly having edged out death so as to be graced with another day to live.

And, naturally, I was so relieved.

About a mile down the road as I relived the scene with a calmer mind, a powerful thought came through, so powerful I had to write it down. Because on that road–in a duck scene I’ve seen maybe dozens of times before–mama duck and her babies crossing in extreme danger, the road roaring with cars, feet propelling them desperately forward through what seemed like (and often is) certain death, I couldn’t get over something that I’d always before taken for granted.

For locked in my limited box of “human”, where I’m sealed into an experience and magnetically tied to the earth, I’d never before acknowledged what an improbable act of self-sacrifice it is that, in the midst of extreme danger and peril, the mother duck doesn’t just save herself and fly away.

And in opening my eyes wider, I let in an entire world.  For, in a life of psychological minefields, holding to hope seems foolish until you finally see the ever-present happy endings that you never even noticed.

And the bigger truth is that Life’s not just about flattened baby ducks. Life’s also about mama ducks who don’t fly away.

Her baby

December 17, 2016

As I was driving to a pet sit this morning–in the frigid air–I passed a bus stop on 5th East and saw a woman of smaller stature all bundled up with backpack holding a plastic doll the size of a real baby.

While waiting for my light, I stared at her–at first, just trying to figure out if it was a real baby, then after realizing it wasn’t, wanting to join her experience for a moment, to see if she was okay; if she was hopeful or despairing; what the story was; just to be with her for a minute before I had to drive off–and as I did, I saw her look at the baby adoringly, and snuggle it to her, then watched as she gave it quick little playful kisses under its purple, fleece, hooded onesie, as if she was trying to distract it from how cold and boring it was to be waiting out there in the air for the bus.

I just…..This world. Sweet and beautiful and amazing, and filled with surprises, because I didn’t feel sorry for her. The only thing I could think of was “Good for her.” Look at her loving that thing. Look at her unashamed and coping.

I don’t know.

Because in a life filled with trauma and a bevy of unhealthy behaviors–a world where people with mental issues can’t get help and heroin use often begins as self-medication–holding a baby doll at a bus stop and giving it loving kisses in full sight of a judgmental world seems infinitely more functional than trying to appear like you’re perfectly “normal”, nothings ever wrong, then going home to binge on shame, anger, and heroin.

Anyways, my prayers go to all those suffering with trauma and mental health issues who are unable to get help and find effective coping skills; my prayers also go to the rest of us, that we can help be a source for healing where it’s possible to do so, even if that means not pointing and scoffing at the older lady standing in the cold kissing the face of her plastic baby doll.

[This was so intense when it happened last year and seemed like I’d always remember it and yet I didn’t; it popped up on the memories on my old FB profile and I had to read it all the way through to even get the mental image of where exactly I’d seen her and what that moment looked like. Brrr. It was so cold that day, I stepped right back into that part of it, then she came in and the baby, which I don’t emphasize enough the size of but the proportions were interesting because the woman was so petite and the baby doll the size of an actual few month old baby. I originally posted it with that Circa video of the Mannequin Challenge for a heroin overdose which is so powerful but left it off this because I think they compete rather than complement.]