Posted by: alegra22 | September 21, 2010

The Very Big Storm

I sit cross-legged on Zaviera’s bed. Only I am no longer me, I am ‘the sister’ and Zaviera is ‘the mommy.’ Outside, the winds continue to push against our house. For days, the neighborhood has been tumbling over boundaries, lawn furniture, leaflets, branches, rubbish bins, they move through space like some strange, music-less postmodern dance. When The Very Big Storm first began, it summoned people out of their homes, they stood in the street laughing. They spoke in Very Loud Voices while I huddled in the bedroom writing and hoping that a prolonged power outage would not be the Next Big Event in a long line of Unfortunate Events that have made up the last six weeks. Over the last few days, the continuous  restlessness seems to have gathered around me as I reach the completion of my novel and thesis. 

Zaviera leans forward and speaks in her mommy voice, her breath smells like bananas and bread and butter and innocence. “Now sweetheart,” she says. “Mommy is going to put some make-up on you, okay? Is that alright darling?” She nods to tell me: yes, this is alright. I am too tired to find the right playful voice so I simply squeak like a mouse, “Yes, please!” I close my eyes tightly and pray that she will not jab eyeliner into my eye.

Sol, who is now ‘daddy,’ comes into the bedroom armed with scissors, scotch tape, coloring books and pens. He climbs up onto the bed and begins a discussion about which pictures he should cut out first and why, exactly, he should choose those pictures – he describes the difficulties in the various options while Zaviera’s mouth goes into a soft animal pout of concentration as she paints my lips with shiny pink gloss. She glances over her shoulder at Sol and then leans in closely to me, fixing me with her eyes. When she is sure she has my undivided attention she whispers, “Daddy is crazy.” And in that moment, I know I will never know another female as brilliant and beautiful as my daughter.

She goes back to her delicate painting. I am mesmerized by the strokes of grey, brown, black, beige on my face, neck and hands. I want to curl up and go to sleep, disappear into those small, precise points of contact on the surface of my skin, because in this moment, my daughter is a gate swung open onto a perfect garden where the past and present and future tangle together and bloom.

Outside, the sky continues to pace. The island is engulfed in a mood the size of Australia. The aftershocks continue to move through the land. I tell Zaviera, “Thank you for making me so lovely, but now sister has to become mommy again because I have so much work to do.” Zaviera carefully places her make-up back in the bag. I can feel the pure pleasure she has in holding each compact item in her hand, tucking it away in the bag, zipping it up – she doesn’t know what any of it is about, only that these items were once mine and now they are hers, and they are wonderfully grown-up and the greatest treasure she has in this moment. I know this because I remember the feeling of spilling my mother’s jewelry box on the floor and picking up earrings, necklaces, small pendants, and feeling as though I had discovered paradise.

Zaveria looks at me, very lady-like, and says, “I will help you work.” She emphasizes the word ‘work’ by putting her hands in front of her and typing on an imaginary laptop.  I don’t know how many times in a single evening she breaks my heart, but I imagine by the time I leave this world, my heart will have been reduced to light.

“Yes, I would like that very much,” I say.

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Responses

  1. “Daddy is crazy.” Awesome!!

    • I love my little girl. She has perfect comic timing and delivery.

  2. Alegra, I am always amazed with the struggles that I see you going through, and with such strength, as a mom. I really enjoy reading your material. I can relate to it frequently. Keep up the wonderful artistry and I look forward to reading your novel!!!

    • It has been a wild last six weeks! Thank you so much for the support…I am inches away from writing ‘the end.’ But, of course, I alread have ‘it began when…’ taking root in my mind for the next novel! :o)

  3. LOVE THIS!!! THANK YOU!!!!
    you inspire me!

    • I am so glad!

  4. So totally relatable, yet described in such a way that could never come out of my brain. I love how clearly you can paint these moments; full of emotions, nostalgia and honesty.

    • Thank you, Taryn. I imagine living in Hawaii you must have some wild weather. There is nothing quite like an island storm…

  5. Absolutely gorgeous. I was there with you in spirit as I read.

  6. Perfectly precious esposa!

  7. .. and so she did help you work. I’ve been way out of touch for the last few weeks, for very good reason, but can’t wait to catch up.

    • Zaviera’s version of ‘help’ has many definitions. Did you have a wonderful honeymoon? I am looking forward to catching up with you!

  8. As always, loved it. You are such a great mommy.

    • Thank you Marian!


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