Thursday, October 19, 2006

Family --

Life's solitude. It seems to be a theme. Or perhaps just a reality.

My mom is in Minnesota right now at her mother's so they can sort through the house together -- all of my grandmother's possessions, enacting a will as they go along. It feels premature, improper even to have to sort through one's own goods and leave them, but the downsizing is inevitable -- a move to a community where the apartments are small.

The difficulty certainly is in the work of it, the elbow grease and decisions, the packing and hefting and packaging of things. But it is also in the weighty implications, in what is said and confronted and all that is unsaid and avoided. They rub in words and in approaches, in years of patterned child-parent interactions that are swinging around as their roles change.

And it makes no difference if all of this is to be expected with your own mother if you wait long enough -- it is still flint against stone, singing sparks and a burst of flame.

My mother says it's the hardest thing she has ever done. Her mother says the same thing. And though she has buried a son and husband and watched another son ache into pieces, this is a different kind of loss and release -- there is finality, which must make her breath catch in her throat. What could that feel like?

And once again, the story boils down to the fact that we all have to go it alone -- no matter how loved and surrounded we are, how supported or cheered for, or seen.

You are the one who must put one foot in front of the other and walk yourself through the muck. You are the one who must move your mouth and have the conversations. You are the one who has to show up for your own mother. Or brother. Or face whatever dysfunction that lies in your skin. Even when you have kids who love you. Or a husband. Or a friend or dog or whomever. (and the fact is, they really all have their own scrabbly lives too, which is too bad) No one, no matter how empathetic, can get into your chest and feel the aches there that weigh you down and make you soggy. No one can know the way your muscles go taut in all that lifting.

Even in clouds of applause, we stand alone on our two feet.

(thank goodness for light, and wings, and winds of sun, and a quiet Spirit that settles us)

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