A Story for the Wrinkling

“The time is going fast, . . . look mom, at the clock.”

I look at her and think at 4 years old she has no idea how fast that clock is moving. I have only a bit more of an idea than she, and my mother has more than I. As we approach the end of our own little slice in time, we get more of the idea, how fast it’s going and already gone.

In August, we sat down to watch our wedding video with the girls. It was eye opening to see how we’ve already aged since that day. Even more, it’s been thirteen years and in 12 more, our first baby will be 21 just like I was when I dressed in white chiffon and lace. Suddenly 12 years doesn’t sound that far away.

Do you ever stop and wonder how it is that our life is wrapped around this contraption that ticks and tocks and every second is checked off, keeping a tally of our breaths, as we’re busy trying to keep up with it, beat it? And why when I turn the hands backwards that’s all that happens? I can’t hold my husband’s hand for the first time again, or lift my slippery new baby onto my chest or feed her while my time zone sleeps. I force the minute hand from 59 to 15, but I still see faint lines showing up under my eyes.

I could erase my agenda, have no where to be on time, take a hammer to my clocks and the tick would still tock. The earth keeps turning and why does that make my skin lose elastic, hair turn gray, and children slip out of arms, not just growing big, but closer to death?

Burying a cherished pet

Time slipping away, watching the world decay makes me think of Fairytales. I don’t know how one goes through life without loving them. Like the one about a prince put under a spell when he was found unloving, and all around him was reduced to shriveled, gray, misery. It wasn’t a clock counting time, but a rose dropping petals. If love was found before the last one fell, all would be restored.

When did we come to believe it’s normal that life’s first beat is destined to a series of ticks that come to a stop? Anyone who has had to turn their back and walk away from a grave, experiencing the ultimate slipping out of fingers, wants to know it’s not.

I wonder even more how one goes through life believing that this is it . . . That there’s no prince coming to kiss us out of our trance, . . . to wake the ones we have been forced to lay down to sleep, . . . to introduce us to the babes we never got to hold, . . . to poison the evil witch that holds us down with her jealousy and pride, and loves that we no longer know the trees luster less than they were meant to.

The ticking of the clock . . . as fast as it seems to move at times, when I find myself waiting and watching for the Prince, can be painfully slow. Beautiful though, to think before we know it the clock will tock one last tick and we’ll be able to say with Hans Christian Anderson that, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” of all.

Fighting for Love

Here I sit in the lamp-lit living room, girls in bed, Hiro sleeping on the couch across from me.  I have so much I want to say, or at least should.  Why is it so hard to say words sometimes?

Photo by Craig Carroll Photography

For the first 4 years of our marriage we never had a fight, and even after that, I would say we had just a few disagreements, not fights.  I know this because there wasn’t even much discussion.  I’ve been quite agreeable.  Besides, fight is a strong word.  I don’t know what my friends mean when they say they “had a fight last night,” or “they’re fighting.”  In my mind a fight involves raised voices.  Perhaps a disagreement dealt with by cold shoulders is considered a fight for some.  So call it a fight or not, I do know that we have had more difficult conversations in the last year than all of the previous 12 put together.

I’m not good at this, . . . having words that need saying and actually saying them.  Aren’t my feelings just selfishness, ungratefulness?  It’s dawned on me though, that most of my unwillingness to “go there” has nothing to do with loving my husband.  It has everything to do with loving myself.  I find myself doing whatever I can to keep peace, not for his, or even our sake, but to protect myself from disapproval or rejection or the possibility of simply being wrong.

I used to be so glad, even prideful of the fact we didn’t fight.  Where I’m at now, I see danger looming in that place.  After a while you can’t keep the truth down.   It’s like trying to keep a beach ball under water.  You start living a lie.  All of a sudden one day, that beach ball comes flying back up, the only thing it can do, and it earns shocks and gasps from all around watching.  “Everything seemed so good with them!” they say.  “If they couldn’t keep it together, who can?” they wonder.

Here I sit in my comfy spot, not wanting him to wake just yet.  I’m not ready to talk.  This time I’ve at least learned that though I don’t know how to say the words, I must say them.  It would be so much easier if we’d never come to this place, the beach ball bopping us in the nose . . . but what story without a struggle is worth reading?

 

“ . . . like in the Great Stories, the ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy?  How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

     But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too young to understand why. But I think I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something-that there’s some good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for!” 
          ~J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings  

 

I’m on another brink of darkness and danger.  I don’t want to say the words.  I don’t want to know how it ends because how could it be happy?  How can we go back to the way we were if we keep going to conflict?

I’ve had a lot of chances of turning back and took a lot of them.  Turned from the conflict, back to my corner, like a cozy little Hobbit holed up with tea and cookies, the dangerous world shut behind my cute little round door.  “No thank you” for an adventure.  Timed out, not really in the game of marriage.  Not exactly quitting, but it’s a subtle snare, a hidden dragon.

So what’s gonna make me go there?   You never keep going if you look at the darkness  around and think it’s here to stay.  A new day will come, and it will shine clearer even, . . . imagine that.  I’m holding onto something, I think it’s worth fighting for.  I’m loving only myself and in the end it will hurt worse for me to stay here wrapped up and lying to both of us.  I will spill words and they won’t come out right, but I think that might be the adventure that brings us not back to the way we were, but closer to love we’ve not yet known.   I’ll jump into that one.

On With Real Life

Wednesday morning, Sabrina woke as early as I did and interrupted what is usually 1 or more hours of quiet for me.  I was trying to read and keep her from talking so I could focus.  She wanted to make muffins with me.

“No, not today.”

“Why not? It’s early enough before breakfast time.”

“I’m trying to read.  This is my quiet time.” . . .

I quickly flipped through my book of short readings to find a topic that wouldn’t require too much focus.  I found a chapter titled, “Interruptions,” how fitting.  It contained a beautiful quote.  Inspired, I closed the book and we went down to the quiet kitchen to bake in our robes, the dawn still yawning outside.

Here is the arrangement of words that continues to strike me deeper to the core each day.  I don’t know if I’ve heard a better way to say it . . .

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own” or “real” life.  The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life–the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom  of one’s own imagination.

~The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II