Right before Christmas, we got some really challenging news. Life-altering news. Like smog, it darkened the skies, made our eyes sting and caused our chests to periodically ache. This smog made it really hard to see the lights and the tinsel. It made us, for the first time, "get through" Christmas.
This news has nothing to do with our children, our marriage, or our health. Thank God for that.
However, this news cuts deep and hurts like hell. I will not be writing about the details of it here, because the person involved values his/her privacy almost above all else. This will probably be the most I will ever share.
But understand---it's always there, like a balloon filled with lead pellets, sitting right on my chest. This new reality has altered me, and made me rawer and kinder. A partial list of things that made me cry over the last week include:
1. Joel was eating vanilla ice cream. He turned to his father and cooed, "Daddy, I'm so, so happy!!" OH ,if it could always be that easy.
2. Any commercial made by Folger's ever.
3. Owen and Joel stood on either side of my fifteen-month old niece. The patted her dandelion-fluff hair, and cooed, "Love you, love you." She darted her eyes back and forth and laughed out loud. The tenderness of this nearly tore me in half.
The smog caused the uglification of my landscape, but it also illuminated the things in my life that contribute to the pollution. I have been carrying around pettiness and jealousies in a battered old backpack for years. Each hurt feeling and inability to forgive pinched my shoulders and rubbed my back raw.
When I heard the news, I finally, finally put the fucking backpack down. I'm not suggesting that this terrible thing happened so I could get over myself. But I'll take it.
People, there's just no time for that.
I have discovered, already, that free of my backpack, I can use my strength instead to feed, putter, listen, and prepare. I can hold my babies as long as they let me, and recognize that there is nothing mundane about a child in your arms.
I now recognize that while there are days that I want to retort, "Fuck you," when the perfectly nice waitress at Olive Garden wishes us a Happy New Year, I still believe. I still hope. I still am convinced that there is nothing on Earth that will keep me from basking in God's love.
Do I want things to go back to how they were? Yes. Desperately. I don't like the fog. It hurts my eyes, my lungs, and my very spirit.
But the clarity I've gained---it is perhaps the greatest Christmas gift of all.
So tell me your stories, friends. Are you in the smog? Were you in the smog? What helped you see the light?