There are always things left unsaid and I learned my lesson a long time ago not to bring up the hard stuff. It just makes people uncomfortable.
It leaves little holes all over me—tiny pinpricks in my skin that burn and eventually my heart begins seeping.
I am not good at pretending.
We come to see the family—to see my first great nephew. We come to see one baby and learn about another. And I have two seconds of surprise and shock and what?? before she casually places the ultrasound pictures in my hands.
Sometimes, there are no words for beauty.
We walk under these budding trees—a blanket of new lace over our heads—and hum to the sound of the river rushing fast below us. I can see the railroad tracks and just beyond—her curvaceous whitewaters.
There has been much rain of late and she is in a hurry to get to the sea and the sound of her calling to us as she rushes by fills me with terror and exhilaration.
Is this still the Tygart River? I ask the locals, who rarely name such things. They only know her by her intimate—by what nature gives to her. We don’t need to talk; this language is our native tongue.
I am with my sister and my mother and the kids don’t feel the earth’s heartbeat the way I do. How to say? Remember when? Remember when the woods were our refuge? And we would crash down ravines of fern and dying leaves and snack on wild onions when we grew hungry and then pick the ticks off of each other in the fading evening sun?
She says it to me and we are lost in the smell of new leaves opening up and decaying leaves underfoot and the way our legs feel straining up the hill. I am in heaven but I want to cry.
We find a waterfall and stand underneath, let the spray cool our dirty skin. I am wearing a white blouse. I didn’t come prepared for hiking. My sister loaned me some tennis shoes and they are soaked through from wading through the mud.
When Teddy falls on the slippery rock, I watch his head snap back and I feel terror grip me. He catches himself, but he hits hard and I feel it in my soul. I feel the broken bone. He cradles his arm the whole way back and cannot bend it for the pain.
Me—I am so relieved that he didn’t hit his head—that he can still move his legs—that I can’t worry too much. We have lunch and he won’t eat.
I am looking at the ultrasound pictures, feeling sad so deep I cannot name it. I want to ask so many questions, but the bridge is too wide. I swallow hard.
And what I hold in my hand only screams to me what an outsider I am to my own family and I feel so lonely. I only have words to give but when the words are not received, when the words are not wanted…there is only silence.
There are eight hands at the table that have all made mistakes. We’ve given our hearts and our bodies to the wrong men. We’ve turned away from God in agony and defeat and loathed the skin we wear. This path we chose…it brought us back to our Good God broken and on our knees.
This is what I want to say. I want to say to leave the shame. Turn your face to the Light. If we belong to Him, we are clothed in grace. Only grace. No man or woman is covered in less. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
That is what the Divine Love is about.
And I want to ask about love and about the pain of bearing it all and I want to embrace this one who has my same blood.
But the bridge is too wide.
So we make nice and snap more pictures by the water and I pile my boys in the car to drive the long drive home. He and I spend the evening at the ER—with the X-ray techs and the other sickly people. And I feel tired, but I know it has nothing to do with the sleepless night or that long hike I took in my white blouse, or the long drive home, or the five hours in the ER.
I know that it’s about that long bridge I keep trying to cross. I’m not even halfway there and already I’m exhausted. Teddy wears a blue cast now, but I am the one who is broken. Is there a cast for the heart? I ponder and stumble and I keep coming back to this:
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)
I know I am not alone on this long and wearisome walk. There is One who walks beside. Sometimes this One will even carry. So. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I try to speak love when I can. Sometimes, silence must do.
And Jen today, and all the Soli Deo Gloria sisters: