so yesterday afternoon a call came that was going to bring to a close a long and sometimes painful chapter of our life here at the big red house. i've been waiting for this call for so long. and when it came it said i had to wait two weeks more.
sigh. fuck. sigh. i was sitting on the bleachers, once again, waiting for the duke's game to start. and you know that feeling you get when your heart sinks? when the sigh is so deep you might run out of air before it's over? the feeling of being so trapped in your own moment? when you actually say, out loud, "I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE." emphasis on the "I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE."
and then your husband turns to you and he says, "of course you can." and then he brings you a cheeseburger. because he knows that a cheeseburger is the only substance on earth that can right you and pull you from a spin.
okay, well, that's *my* life, but i'm sure you've had those moments.
and so i sat with this moment for a moment. i mean, what can you do if all you can do is nothing? when you have to dig deep and you don't know how much further you can dig? when you reached china so so long ago and the terra firma has run out? it's just you and your fucking worn to the nub shovel?
and i was sitting there, feeling very unkind. feeling like i did not want to choose grace about this. that i wanted to rage and cry and be as upset as i have a goddamned right to be. i have done this! i wanted to shout. i was done with this!
and then, because the universe has a giant crush on me, i thought about my friend stacy. she just popped into my head. and i thought about a moment i had with her so long ago. not the same as this moment. but similar enough. and it threw me a rope.
i was living on the border at the time. writing bad poetry, drinking too much, catching babies. and the moment in particular came at 3 am in the clinic. and it found me washing a bloody plastic sheet. and grumbling mightily about this fact. i was washing a bloody plastic sheet because it was the sheet that protected the mattress during birth. and on the border birth came with a lot of blood. always. and since i wasn't the primary midwife on the clean up was left to me and the other assistant(s).
so, i'm washing this bloody plastic sheet. and i'm complaining about it. because i'm tired. and because i am young. i mean i'm old enough to know what i'm doing is blessed, and sacred. and young enough to still complain about it.
and when you're the one left washing the bloody plastic sheet you often find that the sink isn't nearly deep enough, the water is never hot enough, and the sponge is never big enough. it's a loathsome task anytime of the day, monumental at 3 am. and it's tempting to cut corners. who would blame you? what if i only washed the part with the blood? and not the bottom where it never got dirty? and it's covered with another sheet anyway, it would still be clean, but quicker. it didn't need to be sterile. etc. etc. etc.
and then i hear my friend stacy pipe up. oh, now a word about my friend stacy. i love her. forever. she is awesome and beautiful. she's funny and snarky and intelligent. i've not tested the theory, but i have a sneaking suspicion the peace love community minded mama she is could hold her own in a barroom brawl. she has a place in my heart with a reserved table and an always freshly prepared drink. but at that time in my life? yeah, not so much. and i know the feeling was mutual. i don't know *exactly* why for her, but if i had to guess she probably noticed my giant propensity to be a total jackass. and i noticed she was a gemini. which was enough for me.
apparently i can only handle geminis if i sleep with them or marry them. i mean really, it was the only thing to bridge the ginormous fucking gap in understanding. (at the time, mind you. i'd like to think i've evolved. don't quote me on that.) and since i was pretty sure i wasn't going to do either one of those things with her that was that.
so back to 3am. and i hear stacy say, "you know, it doesn't matter how big or small or great or awful the job is, any job that needs to be done is worth doing well. even if you're tired. all work is important. all work is worth our best effort."
i just looked at her. probably hating her for saying that. because even then i knew she was right. and i will tell you what, that is something that has stuck with me all these years. and is a tool in my parenting arsenal that i count among my most treasured. i cannot count how many times i have said the same exact thing to my own grumbling children. any job that needs to be done is worth doing well. all work is worth our best effort.
all work. even the work of swinging at the end of the same rope you've been swinging on for what seems like forever. being patient is work. keeping your head up is work. having faith is work. it doesn't matter how long it takes because it takes as long as it does and you just have to do it. and why not do it with some amount of your best effort. with some grace. that's what stacy was telling me all those evenings ago. and that's what i remembered last night.
i can count so many things in my life that i didn't want to do, or to have happen. that i wished were different, less hard, less painful, less heartbreaking, less work. my first childhood, my first time, my first marriage, my first son's birth, the last minutes i spent with my friend jenny, the last conversation i ever had with my father. this last year. this last year. this last year. this last week. yesterday afternoon.
and i'm still here.
because you do it. you dig deep. and you hope like hell the sink is deep enough, the water hot enough, the sponge big enough. and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. but in the end it doesn't really matter because that's just how it is. because this is your life.
and if you're lucky, if you're lucky like me you have the best family, the best friends, the most awesome support. if you're lucky like me you are impoverished only in what really comes to matter so very little, but the richest where it makes the most difference. and where it matters most.
so i think i got this. again. still. and hell, what's two more weeks when you're already the luckiest girl in the world?