I have been hibernating, I know. I spent most of winter break in my pajamas. I slept until after ten. I drank lots of drinks. I did not draw. I did not even write about Susie’s birthday and how the entire cake that I baked exploded on my lap. I did not write about our cozy Christmas or about how much I love the giant icicles dripping from our gutters. Full winter withdrawal.
Anytime my eyes were closed, I was consumed with thoughts and prayers for Mark and Jenny, who spent their winter break in the hospital, and now, in hospice.
It’s nothing I have felt like talking about or sharing, mostly because it makes me too sad, but then tonight, four things happened all in a row and all I heard was God screaming, “FUCK! Get it out of you,” (which I am learning is what happens when you pretend that everything is fine).
1. While Lizzie was at volleyball practice I went to Target and tried to avoid watching some lousy mother coral her abused toddler by continually shouting at him, “GET OVER HERE. GET OVER HERE. ONE, TWO, THREE (three, apparently means, “I will physically hurt and embarrass you,” until finally I had to leave the store. Do parents like this not realize that children are human beings? I wanted to scratch her face off and shout, “You idiot. Why don’t YOU have brain cancer? Why Mark?” Then my aunt Sue reminded me that each of us is fighting a battle that no one else knows much about and that our only response can be pure love. I tried, really tried, to fill in her imaginary scratched face with imaginary violets.
2. I came home and scrolled through my Facebook feed and my brother had shared a photograph that read, “LOVE,” and then in much smaller type, the words, “like crazy.”
3. I then switched to my Instagram feed, but instead of my feed, another image popped up, and I kid you not, it was a white porcelain sculpture of a brain, shaped like a grenade. It was posted by a person with the username “lapolab.” I have no idea who this is and was floored that the image showed up: http://instagram.com/p/ilcxf4Gx5v/
4. When I saw the image, I immediately turned off my phone because I thought maybe the image was “wrong,” like a dirty picture, but the minute I turned off the image, Lizzie began singing the song Soulmates, in the shower. She was more than singing it, she was wailing these Natasha Bedingfield lyrics (she has been sad for Jenny too):
Who doesn’t long for someone to hold
Who knows how to love you without being told
Somebody tell me why I’m on my own
If there’s a soulmate for everyone
I did not cry when I heard her singing this. I felt grateful for everyone who has ever loved me unconditionally. I felt grateful that Jenny gets to love Mark (the big soulful kind of love).
You know the first time I heard that phrase (love unconditionally) was at my Great Grandmother’s memorial service in Racine, Wisconsin. Our family was holding hands. I was sixteen. My Grandma Jean spoke then, softly, about her mother, and she said, “She was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally.” I remember wondering if my aunts and uncles and my dad understood that or if they resented it (or if they heard it at all).
I have never made a real New Year’s resolution. I have written about this before, but once, years ago, Sean asked me what my resolution was and I responded, “To watch more TV from bed.” This year, though, I think I am resolving to love like crazy.
Right now that seems almost impossible because it is ten 0’clock and Quinn just woke up from a five hour nap and he and William are playing with a super loud remote control truck, which has prompted Elizabeth to up the television to full volume, which has prompted Luke to keep shouting, “Turn it DOWN!” So I am not quite sure how to practice love when everything seems like a giant brain grenade, but I think I will start with surrounding myself with photographs of the people I have known and met who exude love and joy almost each time I have seen them. I will have a picture of Martina and Jacque and Lolo and David … and of Mark.