It's been a long week, y'all.
I come to Thursday battle-weary and forgetful. Like maybe I forgot how to love. Forgot that love is the battle. I snarl through gritted teeth at their misbehavior and squeeze small shoulders a little harder than I mean to. I grumble at those pesky sandwich crusts abandoned on the floor. I throw up my hands at the play-dough, getting harder by the dry-air-blowing-on-it second, because they found something else to do and left it out. And I sigh. The big brother taunts the little brother until he sees red, and it's all over but the crying by the time I get there. Again and again -- arms full of laundry, hands in the dishwater, feet trudging up the stairs -- I sigh.
My husband is kind to me, but I'm annoyed by his flirting. Forgetful that just a few weeks ago, we couldn't even smile. (Because the ways of God are but mystery and the path He takes us on rarely makes sense until we see it in the rear-view mirror, and grief has long been our portion. But be that as it may, I have learned to embrace this. Grief, so often, is what hands us the pen. For that I am grateful.) And this was the week I had overheard my big girl say it of the baby, whose antics tickled me pink, "He fixed Mama's laugh!" I went inward at those words. Eyes glazed over, deep in thought. Fixed? My laugh . . . ? Has it been so long? But then I saw it in my man's eyes when he came home late from class those two nights in a row, and smiled and talked like an animated schoolboy (which, of course, he is). It had struck me then and there that she was right -- we have found our laugh again. Laughter is, as you know, its own kind of prayer. We have found reasons to make merry and learned that there are certain times that forgetting can be a good thing. A healing thing. Deep prayers rising with the giggles.
So, in the spirit of therapeutic authenticity and confession, I write these words, not as a beacon or a signpost, for I am absolutely not qualified to call myself either, but as a humble traveler, tripping along on this journey called life. Turning my face to the sky because the road before me is a ravenously bare strip of highway. I see beauty and then I turn away. I count blessings, but they are far outnumbered by the ones that go overlooked and unappreciated. I still frown sometimes more than I smile, curse more than I laugh. And there are rough edges and dust bunnies and days I'd rather throw it out than clean it. But maybe, just maybe, by telling these stories, by shining the flashlight under the bed, you will see that I am altogether like you.
For happily-ever-afters are easier to write and sometimes I write 'em. And I actually do believe in A Happily-Ever-Someday. But it's not today. We have this penchant for writing or hearing testimonies after the battle has been won, once-I-was-lost-but-now-I-am found stories. But where are the gritty, messy stories of the still-lost? The ones of the mediocre middle place? Where the words run out and the thoughts trail off before the happily-ever-after is spoken . . . ?
Those stories need telling, too.
They need to be told in the present tense. You need to know about the day I screamed because my dishwasher gave up the ghost and I need to know about what it was like to watch your baby slide out of your body so smoothly into the toilet. We need the blistered cry of honest voices laughing together with tears in our eyes (a desperate prayer, yes?) at how the Light always sneaks up behind us, even when the black is at its inkiest. We need to learn to trace grace's fingerprint on the horizon, while still walking in the dark.
So instead of painting a gold glaze over this story and telling you how everything turned around, and all the loose ends got tied up, today, in the midst of the fray, I will tell you stories about bangs cut by plastic handled scissors (again) and socks that have given up their quest to ever be matched to their mate. Today I will speak bold thank you's through the grit of teeth clenched and jaw locked. I will laugh because it has returned to me at last. I will remember what it is to love and forget what it is to carry the ugly farther than it wants to go. I will live this day for what it is and not despise the small things of it.
Which, of course, are not small things at all.
still counting . . .
~ well, i just did. but here are some snapshots of our busy, beautiful week.
Linking with Rachel, Ann, Create with Joy, and Laura.