|Pittsburgh–Where the three rivers meet.|
Some days are flesh days–red and pulpy—when skin scrapes against the moments of life until I cry out from the chafing. Breath collides with the air around me and bruises those I love, shatters me into tiny pieces and I am no longer whole, just a whisper of what I’m meant to be.
The alarm sounds at 4:30 that morning—calls me to ready the care package that would get us through the travel. Four bottles of water, two pepperoni rolls, a baggie of fish-shaped cheese crackers, some oreo cookies and my books. It would be a long bus ride and I hoped to get some reading done along the way. Some writing too…I think, as I finger one of the journals my friend Ann sent me.
I sit alone but not alone on the bus, looking out the window into the dark, grieving. We cross over the Kanawha River at dawn, her breath rising in misty legs to greet the sun. I close my eyes against the approaching day and try to pray. But the thrum of the voices of thirty or so fifth graders drowns out my thoughts.
We are heading to Pittsburgh—the city where the three rivers converge. My son has been excited about the field trip for weeks…and I? I dreaded. Taking a day away from life always sets me in a foul mood. I get behind. Behind on work, behind on laundry, behind on writing, just behind…and there is no one but me to do the catching up.
All the while I have these bodies clamoring for pieces of mine and sometimes I just want to run away. On these flesh days I groan in my humanity, I whine.
Why are the things that I want always pushed aside? Why are the things that I want always the things that aren’t allowed?
I ask Him this in the silence of my heart as I sit still on that bus, smiling and nodding at another mom.
Do I want too much?
I’m feeling broken from the latest No, but not angry this time. It really didn’t surprise me. But I’m left feeling that there is something wrong with me.
Am I asking the wrong questions?
I sigh and readjust myself in the small seat that will be my spot for the next four hours. I try to remember how it felt in my husband’s arms. I try to know the love in his embrace.
You’re the best mom in the world, he said. That’s why we need you here.
There is a time for everything. This I know.
If I get the chance to go to Haiti and help the people there, do you think I should? I asked Teddy during the tucking in a few nights before.
There was no hesitation.
But why? I asked.
Because you’re my mom, he said. And something bad could happen.
Oh, honey, said I. We mustn’t let fear make our decisions for us. We have to pray about it. Ask God to help us decide. What if I can make a difference in someone’s life? What if I am needed? What if God wants me to go?
I’ll have to think about it, he said.
But the answer was no. And Dr. Wright was so gracious about it.
I do a lot of things now that I wouldn’t have done when my girls were younger, he said.
I feel the rightness in the decision. Feel God’s confirmation. But still my flesh cries out.
I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it, I told my friend recently. We laughed, knowing.
We pull up in front of Heinz field and the kids start to clamor. I stretch my legs. I look at the cityscape and remember.
A street fair, luxurious party, the black dress and the optimism of youth.
My son’s head bobs in front of me.
Suddenly I realize there is no other place in the world I would rather be than right here with him.
This is my life. The one I have chosen. The one given me.
It is the life I want.
And it is beautiful.
|to hide behind|
|to mend the tears|
|to catch the light|
Thank you, Claire!