Sunday, November 22, 2015

Silver Threads and Colored Dreams

I scroll through my phone, looking for my favorite picture of Eden, and when I find it I show it to him.

"She's beautiful."

"She really is," I have to concur.  "They both are.  They're so beautiful."  I look at Sean, who is nodding in agreement.  We're seated at the bar and around us, Friday night activity buzzes about at rapid speed, but we are standing still in the moment. My eyes wander to the shelf above the register where Gabriel's photo sits.  Sean puts his hand on mind for comfort, and the tears immediately well in my eyes.  "What is he like?"

"You.  He's like you, and Ben too, but mostly you.  He's got the best of both of you."  I smile as the tears spill.

"Does he miss me?"

"It's not like that.  He talks about you and he follows you and helps where he can.  But he doesn't understand what it means to miss someone.  I don't either, anymore.  It's different there."

I pull my eyes from Gabriel's photo to look at Sean again, knowing this moment won't last long.  He reaches for the top of my head, grabs a strand of hair, and without looking I know what he's got.  "I found it a couple of months ago.  I think there's another, I think there's two now, that I've found."

"Are you going to color it?"

"I don't know.  I'm really lazy about stuff like that.  I don't really take care of myself at all anymore."

"You earned this."  He pulls the strand, then lets it fall from his hand.  "Do what you want.  Color it, or don't.  But you've put in your time."  I stare at him, and he stares back, the unspoken words between us confirming that he is one of the reasons for the lines on my face, the grey in my hair, the sadness in my eyes that never really seems to disappear completely.  He blinks, as if to say he's sorry.

Sean starts to stand, and I start to panic.  The time always goes by so quickly.  I rush to stand, to stop him.  "I have to go to the bathroom.  I'll be right back."  His voice is unconvincing.  "Wait right here.  I'll be right back."

I want to follow, but my feet weight me down and I sink back onto the barstool and wait.  He disappears into the bathroom and I wait for the sound, but there is none.  Time ticks by, I'm not sure how much, because while everyone around me is moving quickly, I am standing still, until I will myself to walk to the door.  I lean against it, knocking softly.


Someone passes by me. "Lady, that's the men's. . ."

"Shut the fuck up," I snap, and he walks away with a drunken shrug.  "Sean?" I say, as I push the door open, knowing.  And there he is, his legs sticking out of the stall, stiff and unmoving.  Next to them is the gun.  The room is spinning around me and all I can do is fall into the whirl of it all, my black hair whipping about and woven with a strand of silver.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

And Then There Was Me

There was me, a me that didn't have to look over her shoulder, or grow tense when she found herself alone in an elevator or stairwell with a strange man.  Then two men pinned her to a couch and now there is me, a me that trusts only a paranoid instinct.

There was me, a me swept up in the co-dependent romance of loving a depressed alcoholic. Then she saw that romance pushed to its extreme end in the form of Sean's lifeless body, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot, and now there is me, a me that worries every great love will end with great loss.

There was me, a me that couldn't remember a time when she didn't want to be a mother.  Then she became a mother, with a positive pregnancy test, and her heart broke the day that the pregnancy failed and now there is me, a me that will be alarmed by every pain in every first trimester of every pregnancy she has and will experience since that day.

There was me, a me that was mended by the promise of another positive pregnancy test and a Kenny Loggins song.  Then those words "incompatible with life" tested that promise and shattered her world and now there is me, a me that won't believe doctors, ultrasounds, or prenatal testing until she sees and touches her child's fully-formed skull.

There was me, a me that was broken and weak and living with only an ember of hope in her heart.  And she felt abandoned - by an alcoholic that would rather kill himself than live here with her, by an another alcoholic who would rather uproot his whole life than stay here with her, by a God that seemed to keep sending her grief.  Her hope was fading to only an ember that threatened to extinguish, but she tended to its fading glow, fueled it, willed it to keep burning.

There was me, a me who took a step towards the unfamiliar and allowed herself to fall in love with someone who didn't need her, who wouldn't enable her, who would be her partner rather than her co-dependent.  A me who was afraid to believe, and who wouldn't believe, that he wouldn't leave her.  And along came two little girls, healthy and whole and full of promise. They couldn't heal the scars, they could only help me to see that all of this makes me, me. They are the colors of my world.

Now there is me, simply complicated by the peaks and valleys of the road I've traveled.  Some days, I think I've got me all figured out.  Other days, I have no idea who I am anymore.  This is me.