I am sad and I am reading sad essays. No. I am not sure these are sad essay. It might be just my sad heart. But I grief through these reads until my head aches from fighting back tears. Still I read, while also arguing with the text.
Yesterday, I read Michell Cruz Gonzales’ essay, ‘Bracing for the Silence of an empty Nest’ and I cried so hard as she retraced the early years of his soon-to-go-to-college-son. Their only child.I thought, this story would be a relieve. A release for my tight emotions . How does it make me cry. I had expected it would nourish and fortify me. Probably, if the conditions were different.
My heart bled.
Her colourful description, enabled me to sit with her as she reminisced the old times, when she would watch her son’s tiny hands, on the piano and his short legs that could not reach the pedals, “still small for his age, he could barely reach the pedals, finessing the sustain pedal with the toe of his heavy black shoe”
Our pains stem from different causes. Hers, is a son leaving for college, and mine, struggles and pains of a young family member. It rips my heart, daily. I read the essay and sense Michelle wishing it were possible to return to the past, while also aware, it is time to let go. She admits, she is almost at the end of her life while her son’s life is only beginning. She wants to let go.
I want to take my young and paining, family member back to the early years too. He did not come out of me. But he is a part of me, an intimate part.
Many nights, I want us to walk back, with him fastened on my back while I do chores around the house. I desire to tell him stories and see his careless and sweet giggle. I want to look at his plumb face, his eyes on me, waiting for the next line from my made up stories. But more than anything, like Michelle, I want him, “sitting next to me on the couch, [I want to ] inhale deep, as if to breathe him back inside me. I want to wrap him in my arms, tussle his hair”.
I want to ease his pain, to comfort and reassure him.I am never able to say anything, when we meet. I pain, in silence, from his struggles. He’ll pull through. I know. But until then I might live with this prolonged labour pains. It is the cost, of love, I won’t mind paying. If need be.
We will hold you, whole again. I tell myself, often. And we will.
Pain heals pain, I think. Otherwise why am I drawn, to Psalms like, ‘why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”. And I stop there, afraid to proceed with the Psalm to “…hope you in God”. I am scared to continue with it, when my heart still questions. Desiring to hope, but afraid.I dare, rather cautiously, Bible verses like, “when i am afraid, I will trust in you”, but the heaviness of heart chokes me.
I remind myself, nevertheless, that just as night and day both make a complete day, peace and pain, sleep together, every so often.
My heavy heart also seems to misrepresent songs, it distorts their meanings, probably for commonality, or for healing. Song lyrics like “o na le maatla a go re thusa, o na le maatla a go re lwela” (God is able to help us and equally able to fight our wars ) ,from my all time favourite song “o mogolo, o mogolo…” ( He is a big God), create, in my mind’s eye, the picture of the young me, orphaned and alone – and not expecting or trusting any human help.
I am walking on barren land, no visible vegetation or wildlife, in sight. The vast emptiness of the pans, dwarfs my stature. My eyes, blurred from incessant crying, are fixed on the horizon, miles ahead.
Whatever lies beyond the horizon, my young heart hopes, holds the power to help me, to heal my young friend; to restore us; to come through for me and on behalf of those close enough to hear my heart and can relate. I encourage my young self, her eyes still fixed on the distance.
There is hope.
A subtle smile cracks through the cheeks, which are now hardened from dried tears. But the smile dies as quickly as it had tried to form. Eyes on the horizon, loud frightened heart beats, tears can’t be fought back this time.
I run to silences, self talk – and prayer in this season. But, I still fear | trust | get anxious|read | sleep | over work | doubt | self talk | over exert |cry |I laugh.
My thoughts wonder away easily. But this sad season, will end.
My heart will be lighter tomorrow. and maybe stronger than today. I don’t know. But no two days are ever the same.
This is a journey we did not choose, but are braving.