Monday, January 17, 2011

Mile upon mile

Three deaths in the course of a week. All unexpected. All parents of young children. Tony, Amy, Lulu. Too much.

Lately, my heart is heavy for everyone who has lost someone, but mostly for the children who have lost a parent, my own included. It’s like you can see the wound that is there, that will be there, the way you see a mark on the wall, and you want to take a Magic Eraser and scrub and scrub it away. But you wear the sponge to a nub and the mark is still there and you realize finally it is not yours to erase. So instead you come to accept it and even love it because after all, none of us get through life without getting scuffed up.

The other night my son asked to sleep next to me. It was going to be his birthday the next day. He was turning six. Please Mommy. He gave me his sweetest look. Of course I relented. And so it was only fair that my daughter slept on the floor, on the other side of me, and thusly we drifted off to sleep. I don’t know how long it had been, it couldn’t have been that long, when I felt his hand on my wrist and his distinct presence in the room. Even in my panic I remembered that I had locked the doors, all of them, and yet here he was. I thought, my god, it doesn’t matter that the kids are right here; he will cross every boundary. And then I screamed and screamed. I felt them on either side of me, shaking me awake. “Mommy, you’re scaring me.” The dream faded away and I was there, sitting up in bed with my children. I held them. “I’m so sorry. Everything’s okay.” They fell quickly back to sleep and I lay there and stared into the dark.

The next day we were gone again. Our fractured, endless, destinationless road trip across middle America. “For your birthday we will go to a hotel with an indoor pool.” He was excited about this, beyond excited. “And we will go to the zoo.”

I let him pick the restaurant for his birthday dinner. We opened presents there—several for Danny and an unbirthday gift for Anna. At the table next to us were two men, one middle-aged and the other younger, probably his grown son. They didn’t talk much, just sat quietly. The older man smiled at my kids a few times as they oohed and aahed over their toys and I smiled back. I wondered if perhaps he was nostalgic for younger days when children’s desires were transparent and their love given freely.

When it was time to go I gathered up the gifts and picked up the check, reluctant to look at the total. I hadn’t even begun to pay off Christmas. The waitress stopped me as I pulled out my card to pay. “The gentleman who was sitting at the next table paid for your meal,” she said, “he said it looked as if you all were having a good time.” I was dumbstruck. The kindness of random strangers.

In the evening we swam and in the morning we swam some more. We watched cartoons on the television because we don’t have television at home. We went to the zoo and looked at the gorillas and the penguins and walked through the butterfly enclosure. Anna said the only thing she didn’t like about zoos was that they stole animals away from their real homes and put them in little spaces, and I loved her even more for saying that. We caught snowflakes on our tongues and took silly pictures of each other. Then it was time to go back to the house that is our home and not a home and we all grew a little quiet.

On the drive back, I feel an exhaustion come over me that is profound and complete, the slow giving out of a body run too long on adrenaline. The kids watch a movie in the back of the van and I look out the window at the snow. It is so beautiful. I love the Plains. Snow upon fields stretching out into the distance, mile after mile, framed by gently rolling hills. When I drive across the Plains I feel like I can breathe. I feel my body relax and my soul open up and my dreams unlock from my heart and spill into the light.

Someday, I will live far away from here, in a home that is mine, with yellow walls in the kitchen and handmade quilts on the beds. My children will run with abandon throughout the day and sleep deeply in their own beds at night. When I awaken at 2:00 in the morning, it will be with peace in my heart. My someday. There are moments when it is right here and I can taste it sweet and rich before it dissolves like snow on my tongue.


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45 comments:

  1. What a beautiful thing for that man to do!

    I hope you wake up with peace in your heart SOON xoxo

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  2. Your someday is going to be absolutely beautiful and peaceful and you deserve nothing less.xx

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  3. Wow. This is the first I've read your blog so I've got some catching up to do, but I felt the awful panicked tingling just before you woke from your dream. I hope for you that its just a dream and you and your children are able to be at true peace soon...somewhere safe where all your dreams can come true as you begin to heal.

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  4. Oh my friend. :( I'm sorry he is able to intrude so into your dreams. I long for a time when you can live in your beautiful, warm, peaceful home.

    Maybe a little closer to us?

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  5. I wish you such peace, you truly deserve it, along with your sunny kitchen and wide open spaces of freedom. Its been a horrendous week, thank goodness for writing, a pure release of emotions xx

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  6. Oh, God, Kristin, just -- God. Please let that peace come soon.

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  7. I have tears in my eyes after reading your post. Trying hard not to break down as I'm at work. At times I can feel myself in your skin. That middle-of-the-night wake up scream... That acknowledgment that your children (anyone's children) have lost a parent and even that dream of where you want to be and how you want to be.

    One day I will be in a home surrounded by trees and my children will play with the local kids in the streets or in the paddocks. They will explore their surroundings and have adventures, while I will finally have time to be me...

    I will see you soon...

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  8. I hope your someday is closer than you thought x

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  9. When I was a child, a similar thing happened when my family was out to dinner. He watched us, smiling, and I'm pretty sure my sister and I made snide jokes about the nigel at the next table. He left and paid for our meal. It was a big lesson in not making judgements and has always stayed with me.
    I wish you sweet dreams, Kristin, whilst you work towards achieving your real life dream. xx

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  10. Kristin, your writing is so powerful and so moving! *HUGS*

    It was really kind of the gentleman to treat your family to dinner. It sounds like your son's birthday weekend was fun for all of you! I love trips to the zoo! I love what your daughter said about the animals.

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  11. It was nice of that man to pay. The random kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.

    Your day will come, when you will have everything you dream of right now.

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  12. Your words...they're just beautiful. It's always a privilege to read them. Love you K.xxx

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  13. Thanks for sharing. Your posts are really something I look forward to. Very inspirational and thought provoking.

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  14. Kristin, sending you a huge hug across the ocean.

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  15. Beautiful & the love of your children for you, you make them feel safe, I hope you have that same feeling soon.

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  16. *hugs* time heals all wounds

    - tork

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  17. You will get there. Your new home is waiting for you all and calling.

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  18. Sending you a big hug!
    Hoping you will find that house soon...

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  19. I love that you received such kindness from a stranger. I do not love the dreams or the rest of it. Children should not have to wake up their mothers or soothe them from nightmares ... but at least you are together and safe. And bloody hell, I hope this comment works this time! xo

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  20. Happy birthday to your son:)

    I hope your someday comes very soon too. From the comments above it seems it's a widespread wish, for you and for others. I think too much about my children growing up without me or their daddy. I read the news too often and cry for every child damaged. I want a perfect world.
    Ness

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  21. Cheers and Peace and Laughter, Wendy

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  22. hey you - just keep driving on :-)

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  23. Wishing your someday to be soon, sweet lady. Loved that man's kind gesture.

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  24. Suburp - Lulu at Unperfect Life. She collapsed after her sister's wake. There's a discussion up on AMB. Just no words...

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  25. It really is too much at the moment. So much bloody tragedy, heartache and pain. Thank goodness you are all such amazing women.
    you totally deserved that free meal - xist you deserve so much more than that.

    M2Mx

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  26. I have great faith in your someday. And everyone else's too.

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  27. I don't have the words to respond to everything that is going on at the moment. It is just too, too tragic and awful.

    I hope that you find your home soon. And I hope that the man in the restaurant gets the good karma he so richly deserves very soon.

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  28. Oh my God you are amazing amazing amazing.

    When I read about that man paying for your meal, I wept - finally - for the flood victims in Queensland. Strange.

    I think your writing opens my heart.

    Thank you, love XOX

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  29. I did not know! (Lulu)omg.. i am just so stunned with this additional tragedy in ONE family..it's just so.. i am not religious if not i'd say is He out of his mind ?!
    great, very intimate post that evokes so many different emotions here.. i have found that in times of complete darkness and misery, total strangers have made gestures towards me that made me almost think they are angels (IF i did believe in any of those systems.. ) beautiful

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  30. Yellow for your kitchen. How sunny and happy. Keep hold of your visions in your dreams, feel those quilts under your fingers. It's GOING to happen as you imagine it, you know it will. But oh how tantalisingly long in the making, and the waiting, is it to reach that place of peace.... It's going to come. If I know even a small part of you, I just know you'll see it through. Love to you and hoping for your tranquil life to come fast. xxxxx

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  31. p.s. Whoops, forgot to finish that sentence..... of course I meant the vision/dream of your special home! Not the awful stuff that I won't even focus on! Gahhhhh, you knew what I meant (right?)!

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  32. How wonderful of that man to reach out. I love hearing stories like that.

    You are certainly wandering, searching for that new place to call home, a new place to rest your soul. But when I was reading your description of time with your kids, it seemed to me like you WERE home. I'm just a stranger from the outside looking in, but what I see is that your soul is searching, but your heart is full. :)

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  33. @ Being Me - Of course I knew what you meant, you big silly. :)

    And yes, it will happen. Soon. x

    @ Suburp - I'm sorry you had to read about it here. xo

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  34. Stay safe, my friend. It warmed my heart to read what that stranger did for you. This was beautifully written.

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  35. From what I follow...you are a beautiful and wonderful person...who is always ready to help someone in need...it is great to see that others can see the goodness in you! xxx

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  36. Luck, love and strength, in pay for your beautiful words, x

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  37. Lovely post, Kristin. May you be at peace.

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  38. I love that there are still people in the world who are prepared to do random acts of kindness without having to be recognised, I pray that you will soon have your own home and your yellow kitchen, we can only imagine what you are going through. Life has a way of coming full circle, with little faith, and a lot of patience all things come to those who believe

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  39. Such a beautiful post, your writing is so expressive. How lovely a man to pay for you meal? I am sorry that your dreams are penetrated by an unwelcome presence and I know that your someday will come in time.

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  40. Lovely. I hope you wake at a much more reasonable hour, but still with peace in your heart.
    It's terribly cliched but there is a line in the Aussie movie 'Strictly Ballroom' that says "A life lived in fear is a life half lived". And it's so true. The threat of or fear of violence (or anything really) is debilitating.

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