Where do you go when no one’s there to lift the other side of the couch, to move it? Who do you call? You tug, stumble, scramble, sweat. It’s moved. It happens alot in my world. No whining. I chose this. But the appreciation these times evoke is priceless. Appreciation for kind words, compassion, mercy. Grace.
What are these influences, these human realities we label? Grace? I could write a lifetime and not convey it. Bird song. Therein is grace. It stops on my chimney just outside and overhead and calls down a song sounding like the light at the end of the tunnel when I’m about to give up. Ah ha ha…sing. Waking me up in the morning on the tree outside my window. A lilt and my heart thrills. I hear it. It tells me: Life is here. Now and around this bend and beyond the sense of isolation. The phone rings…”Hey Ruthie!!! I needed to hear your voice!” More grace. Songs. I left Georgia 10 years ago. I don’t miss it. But my dearest friend, sisters and parents are there. And more friends and. I’m here.
Then sitting down after swallowing lumps of frustration down the throat (for some reason, ultra-sensitive lately -full moon), sighing with the protein bar, chowing down in-between classes and a kind soul walks up…are you an artist? I laugh. All I can do is laugh. Am I? I write. I dot. I study. I mother. I am. But do I feel myself qualified for a label just yet? No. Will I ever? I looked at him “Well…I do dots. Maybe that makes me an artist.” I’m longing. Longing for the feel of a paintbrush these days. On the canvas. Up there in my room in the attic. Quiet. Birds singing. But school hounds my energy, commanding and demanding a rectification of “lost” time.
Ha. No loss. I tell myself this every morning. It’s not that you’re late.
I reach into my bag. Book bag full and there. Slam. Exam next. Oh. Ho. Ho. Last night I was up to my eyeballs in being the compassion and mercy for my youngest son who had not had the help he needed up to that point on a project due the next morning. My morning of classes. And. I forgot the exam now looming, losing myself in bolstering boy writing words in their place on paper filled with Crayola clues. No study. Precious little time. I am. Labeled. A. Student. Mom. Artist? Writer? Aspiring lover. Of. Freedom.
I jump up and run, but it’s a jaunt and not really much more than a fast walk. To the library. Everything is disjoint jumble hurry hurry. Where’s my class pal? Where is he? The one with the long blonde curls and big smile. I find him in the library…”Is is true? Did I actually forget we have an exam?” Grins. Oh yeah. Study, cram, spin in circles and slam down at the desk, drumming fingers, wishing my teacher were not so graciously covering critical parts of the test for us (how kind!!! really!!! she gave me 4 answers right then and there before the test began!). But I’ll be late. I have to get my daughter to physical therapy. This is the class I was going to leave early to take her for her time of “terror” with knee strengthening rigors. Don’t get me going on the knees. And the load she bears just knowing the story of generations producing her own story. She is courage and her knees. They rat us all out. That’s how I feel. Responsible. Her knees hurt because I….? What have I not done fast enough? Damn, and if she had some terminal illness? Am I this hard on Ruth? What about my daughter? Does she feel it and take it on her own back? Does she know I love her? She does. She knows. Gulp. Lump. Throat. Push. Pencil on multiple choice (hallelujah) exam. I think I got an A, actually. Accidental grace? Somewhere way back there on the path I bought the lie that any illness in my family, in my children is my fault. Forgive me, mothers all. I’m learning to lose the worst label.
Test is over. Rush. Run. I’m late. It took longer than I expected. I’m huffing up one. two. three. four. flights of stairs and talking into my cell. Hurry, get ready. We’re going to be late. Stress. Fret.
I won’t. What if I round the bend and that’s the end? What if? I look up at the blue and I slow down. There has to be compassion awaiting. It has to start right here. In my step. With myself. This is the best I have. I can’t be all. No label fits. Life rips them, shreds them all in tatters when you stitch carefully so neatly even just one (mom). Those ideas grasp at me, begging me to keep, to hoard, to fret over how they don’t fit just yet on my chest: Artist. Writer. Student. Mom. I breathe deep, drive and strive to…rest. Then. I give up. And peace finds me. A series of stops and starts and awakening of daughter and out the door. We’re very late. First session. Not a good impression. Blah. The cell rings. “Is this Ms. Kelly?!” “Yes, I am so sorry… just turning in to the hospital now. Had a…” “Oh! It’s OKAY! No problem, really. I’ll be outside to meet your daughter. Just drop her off. No worries…” She’s mothering me. She’s mothering my daughter and I’ve seen her only once. She oozed grace even then. We get there and she’s overflowing compassion. I realized that at every turn lately that’s what I run into. Smack, slam, stomp land into…grace. I didn’t earn it. It just is.
It’s that simple. No steeple story high into the sky producing good people. Life does it. You either break or bend. You either reach out a hand of compassion or stand rigid, bracing against your own humanity and. Life. Or. You live in love. Rambling on…