Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Heart of the Matter.

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” - Plato

Such an unlikely force, all ventricles and atriums and vena cava and aorta in its bloody, thumping glory.

For centuries we’ve romanticized it, this mass of muscle that stands between life and death, the here and the hereafter. We’re obsessed with the power it holds over us, physical and emotional. We embrace the rapture and the intimacy – we fear the crippling pain.

But for all the pain it can bring, at the very heart of the matter is this: our desire to love and be loved.

To see someone’s eyes warm with you in them. To feel a heartbeat quicken. To cause and be the cause of gentle laughter. To know that when the tears come someone will catch them before they fall. To fall asleep holding hands.

It is a human truth that we hurt the ones we love the most and I have hovered on the brink for weeks, struggling to remind myself that the fault is not theirs. Too many worries weigh on me and I count the resolution of each as one step nearer to closing the doors that stand open, cutting the cords that tie me down and lifting the anchors that pull me beneath the surface.

I can hear my own heartbeat rising.

The weeks ahead are causing me heartburn, a reliving of the pain that crippled me for so long and that I have fought so hard to come back from. I have endured it, embraced it and drawn strength from it. But before I relive the past, my heart will be tested and I am as afraid of what they might find as what they won’t.

They’ll see the ventricles and atriums and vena cava and aorta and the valves flapping open and closed in their fluttery dance. They’ll trace the flow of my life’s blood in vivid blues and reds. They’ll measure the muscle and they’ll count the beats. They’ll look at all of the numbers and the scans and tell me if I am strong of heart.

They won’t see the moment that ripped it apart and every moment since that has mended it. They won’t see the love it holds and the imprint that my children’s births forever left. They won’t see the hope beating within and the ache that lost time has left. They won’t see the fire burning brighter with every passing day. They won’t measure its strength or weakness by everything that I feel and know and hold inside.

They won't see the heartbeat within.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beaming Down.

The rocking of the waves undulating on the beach keeps a steady cadence, a gentle afternoon lullaby under the brilliant sunlight. The fingers of my left hand play idly with the silky grains of hot sand and the unfamiliar warmth of contentment soaks into my very soul.

Desperate to escape the mind-numbing emptiness that long weekends bring, we’ve escaped the city for the beach. Twelve hours of driving for 36 hours away from it all. 36 hours of ignoring the phone, no matter what missive it delivers, and absolutely no cooking or cleaning. 

We’re hotel camping in our bathing suits and beach towels with sun, surf and sleep on the agenda.

My children are now nearly 9 and half past 10. For an entire decade I have been on high alert, first time motherhood transitioning quickly to the challenge of chasing two under two and juggling a high-pressure career, the innate desire to deliver perfection and daily investments in a loving marriage. Then, along with the global economy, the bottom fell out and high alert went exponentially higher. I feared every risk that might hurt them or take them from me, my external anxiety matched by the internal one. And I turned inward to protect myself.

Protect them at all costs but raise them to be independent and free. But how, when every second of my existence had become laced with the fear that they would disappear too?

Over the sound of the waves I hear the tinkling of their laughter and I peek through my lashes. They’ve been riding the waves for hours, content to let the ocean sweep them back and forth, and I am content to let them do so. Soon the sun will set and we’ll watch ribbons of color lace the sky, a beautiful goodbye as the sun sinks into the ocean’s horizon.

Tomorrow we have to return to reality and race to keep up as the summer’s end closes in. But today we’ll soak up everything and nothing.

Wrapped in beams of sunlight and peals of laughter.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


noun \ˌme-tə-ˈmȯr-fə-səs\ : a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something

“It’s like you’re living in a @$#!ing cage.”

Staring in the mirror at the red and blue lights flashing for miles in slow procession behind us, it was an uncomfortable truth to hear the words that encapsulate my days and my nights. For miles he listened patiently and quietly as the anger and sadness and loneliness and the pressure began to seep from the cracks that have been building.

A cage.

A year has passed since that moment when I let everything inside seep through the tiny cracks spreading like ghostly fingers through the walls I’ve built. Six years since the frustration and loneliness began to ebb and flow. Thirty minutes since I wiped her tears and listened to him whisper his quiet loneliness into the dark.

I am at odds within myself. A communicator by trade, I am fiercely protective of the privacy of our grief and the man at the center of it all. If a man’s worth is defined by how he lived and not how he died, why do we place so much importance on the end note of a lifetime? Why do people remember us for what happened and not what didn’t? Heavy with the weight of living, I tread gently to protect a memory fading into the shadows.

In the corners of my memory I see the little girl that I once was. The monarch lay gently wounded on the ground, a smudge of burnt orange dust underneath the fluttering wings. The antennae lift gently and I watch my father gently pick it up, laying it in the palm of his hand to show me its biology and its beauty.  I remember the gentle pain I felt when I learned that it would never fly again, its wings forever and mortally clipped.

I understand now its helplessness.

While the world has swirled around me, I’ve been wrapped in layers of pain and responsibility and loneliness. The emotional strain leaves physical pains, and my shortcomings leave me angry and resentful. I regret my decision to put the needs of all others first and I find myself looking back, wishing I had been a stronger advocate for myself. The woman that I was knew no other path. Yet I wonder … if the path had been different would I have already transformed and emerged in vivid color to fly free?

Or stay wrapped in this grey cocoon.