Posted by: alegra22 | February 4, 2012


It is close to midnight and when I press my fingers to my temple, smoothing the skin of my forehead against my skull, I hear my pulse pounding in my ears.

I opened up this page half an hour ago to write and then I found myself looking through photos on Facebook. This voyeuristic streak in me is like a bloodhound searching out the scent of what it means to be Alive with a capital A.

Nearly halfway through my life, I know enough to know that these moments captured with smiles and backdrops of blue oceans, family, sheer cliffs, and clean  homes have their own stories to tell. They don’t necessarily agree with the ones I assign full of characters more disciplined, groomed, and productive than I am, but still I crouch, my neck aching, pausing to stretch my jaw, to pet the cat, to think, “I need to write…I’m sure if my thesis were done, I’d be as smiley and beautiful as these photographs.”

I click through another five minutes of photos and think, “Yes, most definitely – they all seem so wonderfully alive. Alive with a capital A. I’m sure they’re not noticing that their knees are wrinkly or that they haven’t sent out a short story for publication in far too long. I’m even more certain that they never have to search for anything and that if they had three children and a thesis to write they’d be full of energy and it would’ve been done six months ago…”

Out in the living room, there are rows of storage containers. I bought them on sale. Two for one. I had a vision of the shelves in our garage neatly ordered, labels and all. I love labels, I love order. I am not referring to a sterile type of order, a controlled system that leaves no room for life to come cascading in with its arms waving, its choir singing in rounds, a parade of angels and imps and everything else on the spectrum of divine inspiration. No, I mean the type of order that allows chaos to be a renewable resource. When my child asks, “Where is my (insert some plastic something here)?” I want to be able to be able to get that thing with the efficiency of a knee jerk reflex.

Organization, for me, means a prioritization of energy. It means freedom. It means the pathways through my home are cleared for important things like fart kisses and skipping races. It means my brain can pull back its curtains on a stage prepped and ready for a dialogue far more energizing than:


There are love letters I intended to write tonight. The things I want to say to people in case I get hit by a bus but instead my body has been battling a layer of pain and the fatigue leaves me sorting through old photographs and paperwork and thinking:

Time may move swiftly around my ankles as if I am standing in the shorebreak, watching the ocean withdraw, but I am no longer made dizzy by it.

Instead, I look at the faces of my three children and my husband and I think:

I have a family.

I am a mother.

A wife.

A writer.

A friend.

A daughter.

And I am something more…

…we are all something more.

Tonight, I am holding the pain of people I love. Pain from cancer, heartbreak, miscommunication, exhaustion, betrayal, congestive heart failure, fear – it occurs to me that pain branches through us like roots and limbs. It spreads and seeks and continues in so many different forms and perhaps its fruit is its commonality.

We hold its weight in our hand and it is the weight of our humanity, the courage it takes for each one of us to wake up in the morning and choose to love, forgive, risk, seek, lose, question, and sometimes wait for that moment of relief, however temporary it may be.

Small acts of mercy and grace, a larger net woven beneath us, that if we look down and see that we are free to fall, can inspire nothing but humility.



  1. I love this image of a web. All your emotions and the emotions of the people that you love are intertwined within this web. I can see this vividly. But, I’m not a big fan of spiders and I don’t see you with a multitude of eyes and hairy legs either! So maybe I’ll imagine you as a tiny version of yourself sitting in the middle of this web instead. Much more palatable.

    Your sense of community is strong and like a web it is difficult for anything to escape it once it has been ‘caught’. Sure they can roll around and struggle to escape but that gets them caught up even more. And eventually they realize they can’t get away and just have to relax and calm down. This is something that you have an innate ability to do to people. Relax them. Keep them calm. Chill. But you already know that.

    I am privileged to be part of this web. I don’t want to escape it. Unless you decide to get all spidey and want to bite peoples heads off…which I am sure you feel like doing sometimes. Your web just shows us that when you make a connection with someone, that connection is so strong it can never be broken. I love this image of a web.

  2. Awesome!!

  3. I notice my wrinkly knees all the time. For the past two nights I’ve slept (barely) sandwhiched between my feverish children, listening to their breathing, thinking how vulnerable we all are. Our vulnerabilities bring us closer in every way. They strip away everything clearing a path to see what is truly important in our relationships: compassion and love… which makes the web sticky. We hold fast to eachother. With compassion and love, healing can gather on the web like drops of morning dew, full of possibilities and hope.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone in the wrinkly knee noticing!
      I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this – I remember reading it and savoring every word that you wrote. Parenthood is such a profound refining process

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