Wind howls and moans as it passes through houses. It slaps bright red onto cheeks as I move along the side walk. Children are bundled in coats and scarves. I giggle at their silly faces and remember when I used to teach them. Hold them, shaking with fear in a cold pool of chlorine and water. I would show them that one day they would not be scared, they would learn to swim and this place, seeming so big, would shrink in size.
I would pretend to be mad as they latched onto the wall and splashed water into my face, and I would be proud like a parent when they took their first strokes.
Back at home we are swimming in boxes pilled high like a wall. We make stairs and try to climb to the top. But cardboard is thin and we fall right through. So we hang here like rock climbers, unable to see the next foothold. Our arms grow tired as we try to feel around for it, legs dangling.
I don’t want to let go, like the children latched onto the wall, I don’t trust what is below.
“I’ll catch you” he whispers. I look for the foothold.
I see mum hanging beside me, so tired from climbing, from being dragged up this mountain. I see her let go of her grip and watch the father guide her. “She listened to his whisper,” I think and let go too.
Yes my arms are still tired, and I have to keep moving up this wall. But the father is guiding me. He knows my every move.
In two fridays we move to the lovely home awaiting us in Kincardine. Please pray for renewed strength for the whole family.
Christmas coloured clothing. Red, Green, White.
Boys in coloured shirts, girls in hand made dresses.
Two girls, two different stages of life.
The eldest in glasses, Large frames with a tiny yellow glint in the top corner. Reflected light. Her short hair, curled back and fluffed out to frame her face.
The younger girl, striking. Nearly bald except for a thin spread of dark brown hair, almost black in contrast to her pale white complexion.
Thin face and blue eyes, rimmed with purple.
A babe, a tiny babe painted with illness.
The background was dark.
The taller boys at the very back are stifling sneaky expressions. A younger similar boyish face sits slightly lower than the girl in glasses. His expression the definition of happy-go-lucky. Below them is the sickly babe.
The photograph is framed and stacked, hidden away in the basement storage. The stack holds photos of the same style, some with three children, one photograph shows four but most show five. Girls and boys dressed alike, posed and smiling.
The frames with the glint: they hide something. They hide the intensity of the fuzzy haired girl. The fear, the intense fear, that she may loose the sister that she prayed God would send her. Night after night, kneeling by her bedside. Then receiving a new brother with open arms, but hoping for one more, one more to keep her company, to share her secrets. To exchange glances with.
He sent her. She came. Shaking the family to life, adding something curious to the family Christmas photographs. Catching the eye of the innocent onlooker. Provoking questions.
She did not hug or exchange glances though. She lay limp. Mask strapped to face the girl with glasses helped mum administer special vapor. It kept her alive, everything was to keep the ghostly white face animated, and the tiny lungs, hidden behind a thin frame of ribs, pumping. Air in, air out
The babe was taught to use a toilet, then taught again. She wore diapers to bed for an extra year. She moved slowly and prefers to shuffle around, carpet moving under bulky diaper. Each step took many breaths. But soon dark hair thickened and gathered in ringlets at the base of her neck. Mum strapped ankle high boots to feet with curled toes and a stranger helped us walk her around the living room.
The fluffy haired girl grew out her hair and replaced glasses with tiny slippery lenses. She helped walk sister in boots around the carpeted floor and made her a necklace of colourful plastic beads.
Slow and steady, she grew out of those plastic beads. Steps turned to waddle, waddle to walk, walking to jumping. Now she run and leaps, beading and dancing in a living room cluttered with boxes.
Sister stands equal height, and joins her sister in playful dance. Occasionally their eyes meet, but it is different for the dark haired girl, hair now lightened to a soft brown, even blond and wispsy in some pieces that frame her face. The dark haired girl is dancing to be free, dancing because she has felt retrained all day, this is her chance to float freely. The older girl, blonde hair pulled back dances so that her sister is not alone. Her sister is her gift, the prayer that was answer and so much more. They leap over boxes and twirl down the hall spinning and spinning until they disappear.
My heart is like wax
it is melted within my breast
wax crayons and scribbled stories
My heart is the crayon and you are the artist
lets draw the most beautiful doodles together
I borrowed roommates’ clothes and ate raunchy camp food.
I ran barefoot in the grassy green field and lay on a sandy wooden dock in the afternoon sun
We swam across the lake and got stranded in a thunder storm
I learned to play guitar and let a boy hold my hand for the first time.
Sister sent packages, decorated with stickers.
In long distance call on a payphone, I laughed with mum over my teenager attitude.
I grew in close to the father learned to really talk to him
In a dimly lit chapel we sang praises
we were asked to share
I wanted to tell of the tunnel I had crawled out of, how I was still walking toward the light sometimes blindly.
But I didn’t, I pushed the story down and buried it in shame.
Today I shared. I spilled it all to strangers. When the words were spoken, the labels
I felt them tear like sticky bandages lain on my heart.
now my eyes are heavy with sleep and sore from a downpour of tears.
Hate me for the truth
love me for the truth.
I’ll be okay, the lord will see me through
he holds my heart, a little sore and throbbing
he never lets go
listen to a bit of the story mum and I shared on the at http://www.drewmarshall.ca
interview will be posted on Friday
Today we borrowed the house we are buying
We pressed our bare feet in the carpet, while a stranger checked the structure.
The rain dripped, it always dripped when we visited. It is mourning until the day we come to stay.
Sister posed in two bedrooms, trying see which suited her best. Which would look best painted a bright orange or yellow? How could she make routine and familiarity in these unknown surroundings?
We drove into town, and I tried not to think about the unfamiliar faces. Tried not to think about the fake smiles and degrading stares as their eyes followed me around their tiny shops like I was some sort of adolescent shoplifter.
Sister spoke in accents and giggled at the smallest things. I joined in an attempt to push my fears and worries away. Push them far off in the distance watching them grow smaller as they reach the horizon line.
Then uncle joined us for dinner. Sister warned us that he was too serious, and reminded us how she senses people like a dog.
With small talk and a carton of milk he stared me down from across the dirty fluorescent-lit table. I tried to be strong, to put on my hardest shell and reach fro the prize, but I failed and my pride came slamming to the ground. I picked it up and took it with me in the dark of a family car. Shoulders hunched, I let tears fall
It was a rough and tough day, my moccasins got all wet and feet were cold.
But its just a day, Lord will give us more. and plenty more in our new tall house. I put on my wool socks and say a humble prayer.
Thank you Lord for a soon-to-be house, ever-loving parents, and a giggling sister, I pray that my uncle finds laughter and that we can make home in foreign territory.
I mark a year in the sand pit of my mind. A year since that day, that day I hold so dear to my heart.
The girl I was then, fluttering around like a fairy in the second floor of my townhouse rental. Plastic curlers and silver pins tumbled to the the soft rug that carpeted my bedroom.
The steady tick of a clock echoed off cream coloured walls.
I had painted abstract flowers on the wall: Green, Blue, and Yellow.
I dusted glitter on my eyes that day and pulled a short green dress from my closet.
It was a rare day, a rare moment that I felt beautiful. I was a tiny lovely creature of the Lord. But I had much to learn.
My finger and toenails were painted a glossy pink and I had spiral bone earring in my ears.
My curls fell in ringlets, and I pulled my finger through them thoughtfully.
But then the phone rang
and the clock stopped ticking
The painted flowers on the wall bent over dead.
And I sat my tiny fairy frame on an unmade bed and let my tears wash away the glitter that rimmed my blue eyes.
he whispered in my ear, all the wrong words
and a puddle grew on the floor
I swallowed my tongue and eventually hung up the phone.
The clock started to tick, much faster this time, making up for the pause.
I flung on my schoolbag and tried to be strong.
I set my feelings on a shelf
But they tumbled down and hit me on the head.
I ran home
to a mothers warm hug and a sisters sympathetic smile.
I screamed and cried to every song that fizzed out an outdated radio on the drive home.
I hated myself for letting tears fall
for loosing my words
for being crushed like an aluminum can.
Peering back on that day, I don’t hate that girl for dripping glittery tears.
I see that they helped. After that day she let go of something.
She let her little butterfly wings get wet and ruined that day. They lay out flat all winter, trying to dry.
And now they are stronger than ever.
I hold that day very dear.
linking with emily: