Something woke me up.
Not my usual spinning brain or a stray shoulder on my pillow.
An actual thing. I could physically feel it. I blinked and rubbed my eyes while I searched for exactly what the thing was. It was there.
The room was midnight dark, so it wasn’t a flash of light.
Not light. A sound.
It sounded like nickels were plinking against the window. The storm had rustled me a few times during the night, but not like this. This was full and proper, out-of-bed, eyes-wide awake and seeing. I peered out the window and watched the rain. And then I saw the hail. Small cloudy crystals sitting on the window sill.
As far as poetic moments with just a touch of magic go, this one was pretty damn good. The fog over the river was thicker than the one in my head. The air was buzzy and tingling and creation was itching to happen. Could feel it bumping along your skin. I watched and listened and the first paragraph of a story came.
A girl. An opaque prism of hail that she took in her rain-soaked hand. A flash.
I smiled. And remembered to write that shit down, because I always intend to but usually don’t so the story is almost gone in the morning. Got you this time, you fleeting bastard. The sensations calmed and I sunk back into sleep. Stayed there for a whole twenty-three minutes.
The rain had stopped by the time I closed the door behind me. I couldn’t see any hail on the sidewalk or my car. As I drove, the streets dried.
That’s when the second storm started.
I’m not a secure girl. Hard to admit. I’m not proud of it. It’s not what I want. But it’s where I am. Where I’m desperately trying and learning not to be.
The glitch is not about my relationships or the people I love. It’s me. What I am and what I do. Somehow the electric humming specialness of the night before had blown fully down the road and a day of brain maschochism had moved in, fully paid and blustering and feeling entitled as hell.
That morning, I was convinced what a generally lousy human I was. That I was a terrible actor. A hack writer. And that’s just the fluff. Don’t begin to delve into the way I treat people I care about and the selfish slag that I had become. And for the love of Lady Macbeth, there surely wasn’t a worst, less capable, more monstrously unloving mother in the galaxy.
Brains and the thoughts they feed us can be absolute fucking assholes.
And that’s where my brain stayed all god damn day. Posting and pecking and prodding me, lest I forget, what a waste of good carbon I was. I tried every therapy technique I know. Making lists of the “wrong” thoughts, and comparing them with polar opposite possibilities. Reviewing successes and accomplishments. Actively choosing positivity.
Yeah. Good luck with all that.
I briefly delved into my own, less helpful, less healing, coping methods. Not something I’d recommend.
Out of mania or madness or common sense, I tried reaching out for help. To see if I could get pulled out of my pit of pity. Problem with me, and that, is that if someone has heard it all before, tried it all before, and gotten nothing but pulled into the pit for their troubles, they are not liking to start in with the heavy pulling. Nor should they. If someone is determined to be stuck, willfully diving deeper instead of looking for a foothold, best you can do is leave a rope within grabbing reach for them and hope for the best and a grip that holds if they choose to unstick.
And that’s where I was. Ready to set fire to it all for no other selfish, bratty, bullshit reason than to watch it burn.
Until I got home. And Storm was dead.
Storm was a guinea pig. An eighth birthday present. Short for “Storm Trooper”. (The nerd is strong in our home. ) My sweet boy’s pet was dead. I had to tell him. I had to look in those eyes that are the blue mirrors of mine and tell him that the furry creature he loved was dead. l had to tell him that no, it wasn’t his fault. That no, he was probably okay now. And that yes, he might be somewhere with his Pappy, laughing and making ridiculous piggy tweet sounds.
Forget your bullshit head baggage, Lady. There’s a kid with some real-ass trouble right here.
The rains picked up again, and night started to return, and we stood outside. One black rain coat, one blue. One tall pair of rainy boots, one short. One long-handled shovel and one small garden spade. And together, we dug a hole, and said a prayer and placed some flowers.
My heart broke for him. One of so many aches and hurts he will have to endure. This one was easy. (But not replaceable. Because if, say, you wanted to buy a replacement guinea pig, did you know there is a shortage? How is there possibly a guinea pig draught? ) The crushes he had in store for him will only get harder.
And my heart broke a little for me. I get so wrapped up in my own twisted mind that I perpetually miss what is in front of me. The happy. The exciting. The incredibly possible. And I run past with my head down because I hate the shape of my body and my unavailable life. It took a dead rodent and a crying kid to pull me out of my pit. That’s really, really , really god damn sad. But, for the moment, not as sad as a piggy funeral.
(My second grade editor just whispered suggestions over my shoulder and pointed at the last sentence. Yes, my love. Mommy writes bad words every now and then. Because sometimes, they are the only ones that fit.)
I’m glad I was there. That I was the parent that got to weather this one with him. I love this kid with all my shattered, crinkled heart and every now and then, I don’t suck at being his mom. It was a precious gift to remember that sometimes, I can see what’s in front of me. And it can be beautiful. The crystal of hail. The wide-grate smile of my missing -toothed kid when the tears for his loss stopped and I said yes to more ice cream. I’m not believing, but starting to consider. Maybe the thoughts are wrong and some of the words are real.
Rest in peace, Storm. We hardly knew ye. Good journey.
And thanks for letting me see.
“Blow wind. Come rack. At least we’ll die with armor on our back.”
– “Macbeth”, William Shakespeare