Last week, I was taking too many pills. Not purposefully, but also not by accident.
This week, I’m more solid, starting somewhat anew. Still tired and afraid, but possessing a bit of momentum. Not quite hope, but an expectancy.
I’m trying to move ahead, and have several supportive friends and family members who have helped me unburden. There are moments I feel adrift, propelled by the winds of pointlessness. Then I remember others, and decide to finish buttering the bread, get the dish from the sink to the dishwasher. I decide to answer a ringing telephone. Pretend.
It will get better, at some point. It already has. But I’m still tired and can’t sleep, still sweaty but freezing. This isn’t going where I meant it to go.
We have to ask for help. If we don’t ask, no one knows. They just think we’re mean or shy or FINE. But we are not fine, are we?
We are not fine.
Eat the bread. Drink the tea. Hug the child. Pet the dog. Write the poem.
Until we are fine, or a facet thereof.
What was your mother like? she asked, with pad and expensive pen in hand.
Like any mother, maybe. Locked in the bathroom, in the tub crying. Taking litte blue pills when she thought I wasn’t looking.
Dad would come home and always pick the bathroom lock. Try to soothe her in his rough around the edges ways, sit on the floor at the edge of the tub until he could get her to crawl out, off balance and dripping wet and cold from the hours-old water.
Mostly what he did helped, but her cry eyes would swell for days, and she always tried to line them with wax pencil, thinking it hid her secrets behind what she called a smoky eye. She seemed to think a melancholy look was beautiful.
I thought sometimes she faked the crying in the bathroom thing for attention. But Dad said no, that if she didn’t hide in the bath, she’d have walked out into our Wyoming desert with the coyotes, lain down in the sagebrush, and we’d have never found her again.
I wondered why she didn’t just leave us if she was so unhappy. Go to California or something, someplace with sun and not so much snow and coal. But I knew in my heart she was too faithful and loving and afraid to know what real leaving was.
Dying, she could do, if she’d have loved us just a little less. But she loved us more than the sun, more than the God she wrestled with, more than the stones and bones and Bibles she kept in her special drawer, and mostly she loved us more than herself.
And that was maybe what saved us all.