Posted by: alegra22 | September 28, 2009

The Flood and the Tree of Life

This man could actually be my father's brother...they look that alike.

This man could actually be my father's brother...they look that alike.

Today Dan was informed that his manager’s contract will be terminated on Wednesday — as in, two days. We were prepared for the other applicant to get the job but we were not prepared for the dirty way things would go down.

I have so much faith in the goodness of my husband’s nature I assume those who spend time in his presence will be persuaded to do good by him. As in, I believe my husband could inspire acts of kindness and senseless beauty in a sociopath.

Over the last six months as Dan has weathered the uneasy transitions and politics of the managers above him, until finally the company was taken over ‘military style’ by another company, we have been preparing for the possibility that his job as manager would no longer be secure. What we were not prepared for was the underhanded way they would make his position redundant. I will just leave it at that because I don’t want to go nursing an ugly baby of a grudge with any more unnecessary words on the subject.

But before I go dropping that caterwauling infant on the floor, I would like to admit that when Dan first told me the news and the *options* the company had presented him with, he also said, “I know your Spanish blood is at boiling point right now and you want to stomp your heels and have a go at them, but we’ll wait until that settles and then decide what to do.”

I said to Dan (in my best Princess Bride voice) “I am Eros-Alegra Clarke. You have fired my husband. Now prepare to die!

And then I revised my statement, “I am Eros-Alegra Clarke. You have fired my husband. Now I can make fun of your small squinty face and bad fashion sense without a guilty conscience!”

While our minds have been preparing for this, our hearts require a different level of reasoning. Being seven months pregnant makes my heart rather swollen, tender and generally unreasonable. Regardless of our faith that this is happening for a good reason, when we picked up our children from daycare we were both overwhelmed by their vulnerability and dependence on us and the knowledge that there are some things in the world we can not control. As we buckled them into their car seats I couldn’t stop crying. Even as my mind listed all of the blessings in our lives like a mathematical equation that equaled:

You will be okay. You will be better than okay.

I still felt as though I had let some sort of monster slip into my children’s garden. I had let them down in some unforgivable way. They depend upon us as gatekeepers of their childhood and suddenly those gates felt unhinged in a basic way. For a moment, I felt the pain of what it means as a parent to not be able to provide for your children. It was a pain I felt in my heart and my gut. My mind knows we are not in that position. My heart and gut refused to listen.

Two nights ago I had a lucid dream. A flood was coming. Standing on a hillside I could see the wall of water moving towards me, covering the earth. It was beautiful and terrifying and there was no escape. In the next minute I was running down a narrow city street, preparing for the impact, for death. As I ran, I looked up at the stone walls of an ancient city and then suddenly I found myself lifted above them, held by the limbs of a tree. The water rushed past me and I understood how perfectly, exquisitely alive I was. And so was the tree. It pulsed and hummed with an energy that radiated like light. It was protecting me.

I woke up and without thinking about the words, I wrote in my journal:

The Flood and the Tree of Life.

The dream has multiple meanings for me. It spoke to the themes in my novel and thesis, confirming that I am on the right path. But more importantly, it reminded me that the garden of my own childhood Eden, that state of grace, is still alive and well inside of me. No matter how big the wall of water threatening to wash across my world, there is something holding me.  Something so alive that in its arms, fear loses its meaning.

tree of life

A big thank you to my parents for lifting me up over the years and now helping me to do the same for my children.



  1. You have such a beautiful heart and so does your family. It hurts me to read this but I do know you will be okay. I also feel your pain. Shane got laid off with no warning, though. First week of January. I was so mad I found myself wanting to email his boss (who avoided him and didn’t even say goodbye after giving him the news.) I don’t know how he sleeps at night..knowing we have our children to take care of. I also had unhelpful thoughts like ‘This is great, if we had known we wouldn’t have spent so much on Christmas!’ etc. etc. It still upsets me to think about (and he’s still out of work.)

    It’s been hard, but I do know better things are on the horizon. Sometimes I’m in the tree…peering out into the distance, with an almost palpable excitement because I just *know* what comes next will be so worth it. Other times I just hear that water crashing down below, and I worry that it will continue to rise.

    We do what we can. But you will get through this better than most. You have your salamanders, and you have your wings. I send big love and much huggage 🙂 xoxo

  2. You know exactly what to do – grab your board and prepare to ride the wave. I’m sending much love, hugs and prayer your way.

  3. Ugg… another one.

    I can go through a resume, by the way. I failed at finding a job for a while… Somehow failure makes me better at things. If you want someone with a cruel and unforgiving eye, I can tear the resume up.

    Take a deep breath, and let it go. Its not personal. (But its our livelihood, how can threatening the welfare of family not be personal!?) I know. Still, its for the best. Every time I’ve lost a job or gotten fired, it was better that way.

    *Sigh* good luck and God bless

  4. Errr work place politics.

  5. so sorry about Dan’s job… if you want me to beat these new corporate bigwigs (by telepathy, of course), just say the word. in the meantime- you’re all in my prayers. much love, A.

  6. Yet again you have brought tears to my eyes by your exquisite and powerful words, translating the stories of your own life that when shared, take on greater, more universal meaning… hugs.

  7. So sorry this is happening to your family! I am sending love and light and the strong possibility that something even better is right around the corner… things are always shifting and changing. May this be the catalyst for a new door opening and a wonderful new opportunity that you couldn’t have imagined before. I know it doesn’t make it any easier right now but I love you.

  8. Families like yours do not go unattended.

    ~ tomi

  9. Other Princess Bride quotes perhaps not so applicable in this circumstance:

    “Is this a kissing book?”

    “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

    “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!”

    (and of course)

    “Mawwige. Mawwige is what bwings us togever today. Mawwige, that Bwessed event!”

  10. When one door closes, another opens. There is another door opening for you and Dan at this very moment. It may take time for it to open all the way, but it will be there waiting for you when the time is right.
    There is no such thing as a corporate soul. A corporation is evil by nature and as such, has no heart.
    You spoke so eloquently of your reaction and the pain you felt for your children. In the midst of all this turmoil and heartache, you are still able to make beauty of it all. I wish we could be there with you to hug you and reassure you that you can never go down the drain.

  11. My goodness if worse came to worse came to worst ever, get a plane ticket and you guys can come stay at my apartment till the next job came along…like I said, if worst came to so worst (my apt is tiny). : )

    Really, your vivid dream said it all, and it’s so true, you’re so taken care of, and along with the rest of your friends who visit you here, you’re all in our prayers!

    But incredibly enough, through all of this, and you’re doing a thesis on top, amazing.

    I’m also staying riveted in that I remember when you conceived, so now I’m staying to tuned for the big event.

    Your life is really filled to the brim isn’t it?

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