My daughter said something to me the other day, it might have been Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, days and dreams blur together for me. What has stayed with me is a thread, shot through and piercing my moments. She may or may not remember it, but that’s the thing I am learning about children; they open their mouths and God comes tumbling out. And, of course, they don’t notice. They don’t stand back and think, “What I just said? That was some wise shit.” They are already on to other things. They grab a chair, drag it over to the sink and waste a village’s worth of water, all the while telling a joke only they can understand the punch line to. It doesn’t matter that angels are whispering to them. Why should they care? They’re not worried about death or monthly income, they just want to make sure their toys aren’t messed with and food is on the table. They have priorities. Joaquin, for example, finds its of utmost importance that he shakes baby powder all over the carpet. He wants to see just how many rocks he can throw in the fish pond before Mommy’s voice goes from ‘sweetheart…’ to ‘SWEETHEART.’ He knows the end result is kisses and nibbles. He knows all he has to do is reach up his hands and say, “Cuddles?”
And this is the Universe unfolding exactly as it should.
The days are a blur to me right now. They are a blur of words and actions and skin against skin and counting down of minutes until Dan gets home so that I can let everything, all of it, GO…
I see the red flash of the van arrive through the white net curtains and already, I’m shoving my yoga mat and towel into a bag, even if class isn’t until two hours and I’m not entirely sure I have the energy for that frustrating locust pose.
But I do. I drive away to sweat and dissolve into nothing but muscle, bone, and a pounding heart, with the hope that at the end of two hours, I’ll be restored to: wife, mother, friend, writer, student, homemaker, daughter. All of these things that I seem to be unable to hold in my two hands these days without feeling as though something is falling between my fingers.
But, Alegra, what did your daughter say? Isn’t that what we were talking about?
Yes. It was.
My daughter sat at the table, her legs tucked into her chest, her thick fringe shading her eyes, and she said, “You don’t love me. You only love Joaquin anymore.”
And as I handed her breakfast, my mind keeping track of the dogs, and the quiet in the next room, and wondering if this is because I lay down with Joaquin every afternoon for a nap, I said, “That’s the most untruthful thing I’ve ever heard.”
Zaviera sat up a little too straight and replied, “A lot of what people say is untrue.”
How could I argue? It’s true.
In that moment all she needed was her milk with sugar. She needed me to come over and gather her in my arms and prove to her that she is my One and Only Daughter, all with capitals, and I did this, I gave her what she needed, but what she gave me has still been working its way through my mind.
I’ve been failing at my commitments lately. It’s the first time in years I’ve been unable to push and then push again and power myself through just for the sake of following through. After the bus incident, I’ve been in several more near misses. On the way to Bikram tonight, I watched a car slam into a motorcycle. I pulled down the visor to block the setting sun. I noted the broken plastic parts on the asphalt. The victim paced in his jeans and helmet as he attempted to haul his bike off the road. The light turned green and I carried on.
In class, the teacher lifted me off the ground and I imagined my muscles, bones, tendons, brain, organs, everything letting go of everything that is keeping me from being the mother, wife, friend, writer, student, daughter, sister that I am meant to be. Sweat dripped onto my blue towel. I avoided eye contact. I tried not to look at myself too directly in the mirror. While I was in a backward bend, the teacher said, “I know you can go deeper. I see the things you don’t think I do.” I went deeper into that fear of breaking in half, of losing control, and when I pulled myself back up, it was with laughter.
Later, she leaned into me until my breasts pressed into my knees, until my breath was a shorebreak crashing onto my bones.
I returned home and put the children to bed. Dan was already half-asleep. This is going to be our month: survival. We have been here before and we know the routine. We maintain contact in the ways that we can. He goes to work. I am home with Joaquin and Zaviera. We find one another on the couch at the end of the day.
He reached a hand out and stroked my belly. Joaquin noticed and scrambled over, batted Dan’s hand away. He flattened himself against me and growled at his father. My foot reached out for Dan’s foot. We found our way to one another. “I’ll be taking the kids back to Hamilton this weekend?” Dan asked. I nodded.
So what does this have to do with speaking the truth?
I sat with Darryl the other night, after he’d received confirmation of his departure to some place faraway I don’t really want to think about. My heart was hurting. It still is. I don’t want him to leave but I know he needs to. I keep hoping God will throw down a roadblock, but until then, I remain supportive, because that is what we do when we care about others. Darryl has been talking a lot about the power of our words, our commitments, the integrity of our characters. For the last seven years, I’ve felt confident that if I committed to something, I’d follow through, at any cost. In the last two years, I’ve found myself falling short. I’ve had to extend, delay, reconsider commitments I’ve made.
This all comes back to those moments on the mat with sweat dripping down into my eyes and the teacher saying, ‘Let go of the unnecessary energy expenditure’ or something like that – she might not use a word as tricky on the tongue as ‘expenditure’, but the message is the same. By letting go of what is unnecessary and finding that point of comfortable discomfort, God is invited in, and suddenly, we are stretching beyond our limitations.
I started this blog two hours ago with the line:
I am posting this picture because I’m proud of myself. I’m not proud of myself, I’m proud of the way my body has surprised me.
And then I lost the blog.
I texted Darryl because I know it is with the accountability of our friends and family that we carry on to the truly important work.
I had to begin again, from scratch, and I did, because I gave my word.
I think this is where I am with all of the most important elements of my life.
I am beginning again. Carefully considering my words. Learning to speak from a place of truth. Admitting that sometimes the only way I recognize what is true is by letting go of what is untrue.