Heart and soul
Love like ours won’t never grow old”
There are both in our yard. The fireflies have more incessant light, and it’s white. The faeries have a longer, slower burn and they come in colors of reds and blues and greens and purples. As you know, we’re not religious people, but we fall on different points of a spiritual range. I know they may all be fireflies, because why wouldn’t they all be fireflies on the spring and summer nights in New England, but I have told these stories for years. The color and the splendor. When a large one flew swiftly right by my head last night, I could swear I saw the outline of a faerie lit under a flashing red light. It doesn’t even matter what it is, but what I tell myself it is. And it doesn’t even matter what I tell myself it is, but what it is. It’s that blur of science and magic and God. A belief and disbelief. Hope and meaning lighting the way. I always gasp at the magic under a dark sky.
It’s always been ok to me to know it’s not really a dinosaur or a forest creature. The wonders of the world, with humans and other marvels. Stopping short on the darkest roads of the darkest parts of Yellowstone – when a bull elk watched us tall and proud from the side of the road. Then quietly crossed to the other side, with his head bowed. A different dark road (with yet a different companion) across the way in Maine, while a giant cow moose gave us a mournful glance before escaping into the thick trees. A real life Eeyore in a real life forest. Scarlet and Des wanted to talk about dangerous things we have seen or done in our 20s, before kids, when there was more of a sense of invincibility, or at least less to lose. I wonder how much of that was something many of us experience, how much of it was my special Tamara brand of weird thinking, and how much of it, if any, was pure luck or charm or destiny or magic. I’m having so much trouble making sense of anything these days, but I try not to forget where I’ve come from and what I’ve seen or done.
And I think a lot about the denying, deferring, detaching. Of course I logically must have known it wouldn’t be the case that nothing bad would ever happen to me again, or if it did, it somehow would all be wondrously ok, but I have been able to view tragedy and trauma through a lens of denial and detachment. So I think in some ways we have to, or else it would be too hard to cope with daily life, and in some ways I probably am too good at it, which isn’t healthy in the long run. As long as my own family is still whole and healthy and we believe in magic and adventure, we’ll be ok. I fill out the PPD paperwork at every midwife and pediatrician appointment and of course I pass the screenings. “Do I feel sad and miserable for no reason?” Well, no, there’s very much a reason. This crazy, dangerous, mixed up world. The pediatrician says, “Then focus on happiness and wholeness within your own family. It starts with you.” So I do and it does, and it helps, but I don’t want to deny pain, defer pain, or detach from pain. It mixes together; rises up to meet you.
I’ve gotten through grief and loss this way, but the stakes seem higher these days, and can’t seem to reverse. I think about my maternal grandparents, who passed away eight and ten years ago, both at age 100. They had to go through the losses of pretty much anyone they ever knew and loved, at their age levels and above. I believe they found enjoyment in the world, in one another, and in what they left behind. Legacies and family. In grit and hard work; everything they had seen or done. It doesn’t disappear. Like dust in a sun-lit room, the sound of an old clock, or the smell of clean linens on a sun-warmed bed. It’s matter. It matters. You matter.
I think about the last time I was truly happy, in a moment or extended experience, despite all of life’s trials and tribulations. It wasn’t that long ago. Maybe it was that first time at home, feeling somewhat refreshed and dressed a week after Sawyer was born. Our friend, Tara, took a photo:
I was truly happy in the hospital after that first night and next day, when my spinal headache was gone for the first time, and I thought it was gone forever. The future seemed wide open to bring a healthy baby (and mama) back home to make a family whole, for real, real this time.
I was happy in way early labor, when the nurses put the hospital radio on to “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan, which also came on in a bar in Bethel, Maine the weekend I met Cassidy. He called me and he was with Tara, the dear friend who took the photo above, and they were rounding up our lives until the grandparents could come, and he could join me in the hospital.
And I was happy in Dutchess County, NY, on my work trip last November, despite the gloomy sense of faded foliage and early nightfall. It was our first overnight trip away from Cassidy in a year and a half, and he had left a love note in my luggage for me to find. That was happy.
It’s hard to wrap your head around what’s out there, or not. I still feel like my destiny is unfolding and unrolling and waiting, while I pick up pieces of it here and there. It’s so strange to think that everyone you’ll ever know and love will pass, and yet we find these ways to find true pride and joy. We make lives full of meaning, higher levels, and deeper connections. Some aren’t doing this and wont, and that’s ok too, but I admit I was never one for the norm. Even if that cost me years of denial and detachment, convinced that a “normal” life couldn’t touch me, or I it. Maybe this is all there is, and I’ve been buoyed by a false hope. And maybe this isn’t all there is, and that the joy, confidence, and sense of magic, adventure, and self-fulfilled/self-fulfilling prophecies is as real as you and me. It’s the inner spark at the core. It stays alight whenever darkness falls.
I guess I worry that the older I get, the harder it is to feel true pride and joy in the moment; the moments. And perhaps this is by design. Perhaps it’s more than a cotton candy sweet, delicate, and dizzying false sense of the world. This is the real deal; aches and pains. The world that you’ve known is still the world that you’ve known, but it gets filled and drained at different times and capacities. Light and dark, black and white to color. There’s no reason to ever believe you won’t find your sustainable pockets, rather than the bursting and quick bubbles, of true pride and joy.
So it feels lately, like wide open sores. Emptiness and holes in places I maybe used to gloss over with denying, deferring, detaching. And maybe it’s time to fill those holes with grit and sand, sturdy and steady as they come. A belief in the magic of big love, adventure, and storytelling. There’s pure acceptance, embrace, and real hope – which sifts through your hands like the sand at the beach, or the sand through the hourglass. It somehow always finds a way to refill, clean and fresh and new. Despite the waves and the tides; despite the drownings and the batterings.
Heart and soul
Love like ours won’t never grow old”