I’ve given up on wearing mascara.
What’s the point, really, when at some point during the day tears will steal the lush from my lashes and create inky rivulets down my cheeks and dark smudges beneath my bloodshot eyes?
Don’t feel sorry for me. I almost relish the moments when sorrow pours from my head to my feet and my heart tightens a bit as grief washes me clean. If I didn’t hurt it would mean that I don’t love– that I haven’t lost anything.
Mary talks of my mom every day. She prattles about eating raspberry jam from the garden and playing Candyland and the way Grandma Zoe always let her win. Most of our talk is happy but she brings me tissues and crawls into my lap when I break into sobs. She seems to know intuitively that I need to talk about it, that I need to cry.
On the phone yesterday, my dad said, “I’m praying for you. I pray for you every day.”
I don’t think he expected my throat to contract and our conversation to end in sobs, because as I ran that morning I had tripped on a black speed bump and nosedived into the sort of fall that breaks your nose and neck and skull.
But even as I was falling I felt a calmness, “You’re going to be OK.” I miraculously landed on my hands and while surveying my bumps and scrapes had the sure impression that someone, somewhere had been praying for me.
I’m a magnet for injury these days. I’m in such a hurry all the time that I have a gash on my foot from the refrigerator and a goose egg on my head from hitting it with the car door and a black bruise with a gash on my hand that Ben asked about and I just shrugged.
Grief is exhausting. Every task is a herculean effort. And yet my proverbial plate is full and overflowing and spilling from the sides. So I’ve eliminated everything I can– I’m not volunteering at the school, the yard and house are going to seed until winter covers them with it’s forgiving blanket (could I get a little snow on my laundry pile please, or in Mary’s room?) and I’ve shut down my photography website.
Monday I phoned and emailed every person I’ve promised photos to this fall and canceled our appointments. It physically hurt to say ‘no’ and I dreamt that night of chubby babies in the apple orchard, laughing families in an arch of fall leaves, a boy standing protectively by his mother’s side, friends that I have and haven’t met, the beauty that I won’t capture this season. I’m keeping just one wedding as my treat; we’ve already done the engagement and bridal sessions.
I don’t want to let people down, I don’t like it. Photography and the artistry behind it makes my heart sing. I love discovering very best in people. When I capture delight in a new baby or a child’s smile or a couple’s adoration of each other, it’s the very purest sort of satisfaction that doesn’t rely on anyone else’s opinion. And I’ll miss that.
But even though I’m struggling, and oh, I am, I feel constantly blessed– spoiled really. Every day I see little miracles, friends who call or drop off chocolate oranges, Ben cleaning out the pantry, a new red sweater, Stefan playing “Spinning Princess Wishes” with Mary, the laughter of my three little boys, lunch with a friend, opportunities to take dinners and brooms to the homes of friends who need help more than I, thick drippy triangles of baklava from my father-in-law and drifting to sleep at night as Ben plays hymns on his viola two rooms away.
My big computer crashed again, but I have this sweet laptop from my dad and the memory of going to the Apple store with him last Spring where he handed over his credit card to the ‘Genius’ and said, “Just get her a computer that works!”
See, I am spoiled.
I know I have things to learn. I can almost feel myself growing. And I love these little reminders that God knows me. It’s much like when my children have a huge math assignment and I can’t do the work for them, but I can stir up a cup of hot chocolate to warm their hands and bellies as they learn their lessons.
Today, I told my neighbor Jodi that I was lighter, happier and then I skipped across the street, felt my calf muscle pop and dropped to the ground.
I’m literally crawling now, but I’m not discouraged. Jodi saw my fall and brought a plate of chicken salad and Motrin and an ice pack.
I’m being carried.