Tiny Footprints


“…the death of my mother was the thing that made me believe the most deeply in my safety: nothing bad could happen to me, I thought. The worst thing already had.” Cheryl Strayed

Today was the day I capsized.  Again.

At this point its like my emptiness is swollen shut.  Scabbed over and doused with enough social grace not to unload it on unsuspecting, ill-equipped listeners.  All but those closest confidants are spared the ugliness of my feelings.  But today.  Today I dug deeper than I ever had before.  Its my strongest/weakest day and I’m having trouble keeping it in.  I have written about this before here. Each year is a little different though.

I am grateful that there is only July 3.  I take comfort in that aspect of my disaster.  No separate birthday and death day to deal with.  Three hundred and sixty four days until it comes again.  But you’d be hard pressed to catch me say that its Axel’s birthday tomorrow.  Birthday sounds celebratory.  Birthday means cake and balloons and friends and all good things.  It is the day he was born.  But yeah, not a birthday in the way everyone accepts and understands.

My grief these days is like a mess of a cocktail.  You aren’t sure if it was the tequila or the bourbon that got you, but one of them did.  As a young woman I had buried my mother and my child.  There is nothing sane about that.  Those two defining moments of my life fill one and the same column.  They are distinct, but are in ways only I understand part of the same unthinkable thing.  They are also the well from which I derive all strength.  There is no storm greater than the ones I have already weathered.  There may be equal ones, but no future catastrophe could ever be novel.  I pray to God I am not being arrogant when I say that.  That, in fact, I have reason to believe in my safety.

In better news, a lifeboat is en route.  The distress call was heard, and she is inbound.  With her grace and her knowing eyes, Nikki has borne witness to all of it.  Every happy night laughing until I can’t breathe, the endless weeks of depression and despair.  She is in that elite class of friends that knew me before the sun set.  She is in the revered category of people that I don’t have to tell about my mom.  They are few and they are cherished.  She, and I think up to this point only she knows this, is also Axel’s godmother.  I can’t recall if I told her at the time.  I must have.  She can handle it.  She handles everything.  Even that.  She is of course also Oscar’s godmother.  Because there are happy endings after all.

In Helsingborg for dinner

This weekend we will laugh.  She will be with my children and radiate that love and understanding she brings every time I see her.  I am so deeply grateful for the friends I have.  The path that lead me to this day was not without struggle, but each triumph brought a deeper sense of what is important, and even more so, who is important.  I am rich in people who love both my darkness and my light, and allow those things to coexist.  What a gift.  I hope I do the same for them.  To my friends I say there is almost nothing you could say to me that would scare me away.  Nothing.  I will do for you what you do for me, and love you through all of it.


“Brother see we are one and the same
And you left with your head filled with flames
And you watched as your brains fell out through your teeth
Push the pieces in place, make your smile sweet to see
Don’t you take this away, I’m still wanting my face on your cheek”

Two Headed Boy Part 2 Jeff Mangum


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