listening to the rain (a brief treatise on fresh grief)

What do you do when your head and heart both are overfull and empty at the same time?

I’m sitting here in my car, parked in my driveway, waiting for my daughter to wake up so we can go into the house. She has spent the last few days and nights with my parents, and while I’ve enjoyed my mini-vay, I feel an urgency to get back to reading C.S. Lewis’s THE SILVER CHAIR with my kid.

A mother reading to her daughter.
Mothers and daughters have weighed heavily on my mind and heart of late.

One of the daughter’s favorite shows, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” asks the question, “What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad, you could roar?”

A similar set of questions has plagued me for the past 10 days…but mine go something like this:

What do you do with the sad that you feel?
When you feel so sad, you could soar
gently and without fuss on an updraft of foreign emotion
out of your daily life and
into some *between* state
neither dead nor truly living
simply drifting along
an automaton waltzing through life’s daily requirements
to the rhythm of
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
i-don’t-care
a beat as steady as a heart too calm
too deeply in repose
too distant ever to answer another call?

What do you do when you feel this grief,
this pain that underwhelms:

–i am not impressed with you
–i shall go about my life because i have such security
–oh pain, you do not own me

and overwhelms:
–i cannot begin to handle you
–i cannot anything
–what life?

How do you take your next breath?

Is it even yours to begin with?

Is the beginning of a next breath. even. yours.?

I do take my next breath
and the next
and the next

But they don’t happen in some serene cocoon
of Comprehension Of Death
no

Oh, on a certain level
I understand

We Live In A Fallen World
Death Is Not The End
At Least She’s Not In Pain Anymore
She’s In A Better Place
The Lord Plucked Her, Beautiful Flower, From His Garden And Took Her Home
do you really think any of that shit matters to me

when i grip my kitchen counter
trying to hold on
un
unable
sliding down the front of my dishwasher
oh so recently having completed its cycle
having done its job on the earth
having fulfilled its purpose
oh happy dishwasher
spewing its drying heat over me like vomit
all to the tune of
the cat’s ingurgitating her meat food
slurp smack
as i seek refuge with my cheek pressed against the floor
my nose in last month’s crumbs i haven’t bothered to sweep
scrubbing the cold linoleum with my tears

good
god
WHY

do you think any of your platitudes matter?
the strung-together syllables of anesthesia
that make so much sense when you’re not in agony

spare me

try listening to the rain
do you hear that hollow growling sound?

i tell you, it is Death

come too soon for her
come too soon for us all

come.
too.
soon

“I needed this today,” says I. “This quiet resting, this listening to the rain. They held her funeral this morning.”

“Rain washes everything away,” answers a friend.

That is the answer to what we do. That is the Truth.

So I let the rain come.

In my kitchen, in front of the dishwasher. With the heat and the filthy tear-washed floor and my soft-howled pleas for an explanation.

I let the rain come.

(completed and posted on 06/26/2017, backdated to June 2, 2017)

Tornado and Truth: In the Aftermath of May 20, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma -- May 20, 2013 -- photo by Marshall Brozek via KFOR

Moore, Oklahoma — May 20, 2013 — photo by Marshall Brozek via KFOR

I sat down to write thinking that I was numb.

But considering all the thoughts that come to mind, I don’t think “numb” applies.

My house is a wreck because we hurriedly packed up emergency supplies and essentials, in case we had to flee to a neighboring church basement or my parents’ storm shelter.
But I have a house.

My dishes are dirty because nobody had time to do them today.
But I have dishes.

My clean laundry is scattered across the dining room and living room because it was in the way and nobody bothered to pile it in one place.
But I have clothes.

My bathroom rug is soaked because the cat found the vase of Mother’s Day flowers we were hiding in there.
But I have a pet.

My conscience is bothered because I had chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert tonight, even though I’d told myself I would resist.
But I have enough food to eat.

My baby is whining and crying instead of sleeping because she spent the evening overstimulated and got to bed two hours late.
But I have a living, breathing baby.

My husband isn’t home to help me take care of the baby because he’s out buying items for us to donate to the relief effort.
But I have a living, breathing, generous husband.

My mind is full and my heart is heavy and I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight.
But my mind is whole and my heart is beloved of the Creator of the universe, who gifts me with rest and peace.

Considering these truths, I cannot feel numb. I cannot but feel overwhelming gratitude coupled with compassion for those who suffered loss today.

Compassion: “feeling with” another, especially in that person’s pain.

I won’t turn away from their pain by letting myself become numb.

Cowards, Silence, and Innocent Blood

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.

I had decided not to write about this. I had decided that I would put out a few links on Twitter and Facebook, briefly state my opinion, stop reading news articles, and turn my attention to happier things in order to preserve my sanity.

But I can’t.

My heart hurts too much, and for this moment, I cannot look away.

When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.

–from John Scalzi’s Omelas State University,
November 10, 2011

There was the rapist. There was the 28-year-old man who witnessed the rape. There was the father of the witness. There was the coach who heard it from the father. There was the school administration who heard it from the coach.

Not one of them stood up and stepped between that child and his tormentor. To be clear: A 67-year-old man was anally raping a 10-year-old boy in a university locker room shower. Within days, at least five people knew about it, and not a single one of them reported the rape to a law enforcement agency.

The silence of these men rips my heart to shreds.

Now, there is a campus full of at least 1,000 university students who rioted over the firing of their beloved coach — their beloved coach who knew his friend and co-worker was raping young boys and did nothing to stop him.

Some of these students, according to the sister of the boy in the shower, are turning that boy’s torment into a joke. They talk about getting “Sanduskied.” They laugh.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike German civilians ignoring clouds of ash above a concentration camp.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike audiences of young Americans in the 1990s, laughing at the nakedness of imprisoned Jews in the movie “Schindler’s List.”

Don’t tell me dear old “JoePa” did what he could by reporting the incident to his administration. Don’t stand there and tell me he fulfilled his legal obligation by telling the university.

What of his moral obligation?

What of these men’s collective moral obligation to that child?!?

To that child, the report of the rape to university officials means NOTHING. They left that child in the cold, and the other victims with him. They turned their backs on that child and shook hands with the man who raped him.

Oh, cowards.

How can you justify remaining silent when the blood of the innocent calls out for justice?

Want me to get graphic about it? How about the anal blood of the innocent?

How can you justify the culture of silence surrounding this horror?
How can you justify the seed of awful darkness that grew in this silence?
How can you justify supporting a man who supported a child rapist?
How can you make jokes about the rape of a child?
How can you look away?
HOW CAN YOU WITNESS THE RAPE OF A CHILD AND LOOK AWAY?

__________

Some of you know that I’m involved with the Kindle All-Stars project, a collection of short stories in support of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Center.

It is a small, small thing I do, donating a story to help prevent the rape of children. I feel humbled and thankful that I can help even just a little bit. I pray that I will have opportunity to do more.

But my small contribution doesn’t make my heart ache any less.

I feel like I’m in mourning.

Either in the near future or in the distant future, the rapist and his accomplices in silence will pay for what they have done. In the meantime, there are at least several thousand young adults who care more about their school’s and one man’s reputation than they care about the sexual torment of at least 8 innocent children.

That breaks my heart into more pieces than can be put back together right now. God, please save all of us from this corrupt generation.

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.