the unfamiliar and magical sound of hope
I have had a major case of writer’s block over the last few months. Writing can take a lot of effort. Sometimes there’s stage fright involved. Sometimes I’m driven to write for someone else. But really, writing is therapeutic for me. So, I guess I’ve been avoiding therapy for numerous reasons.
Often, all it takes is a simple, plain event to spark my immobile fingers to move. When I’m still, I have ears to hear. And when I hear, I write.
You know that feeling you get when you hear birdsong at dusk? It’s unfamiliar and magical. Birds sing in the morning! But an evening song as the blue sky seems to stretch on and on into indigo? It makes me feel warm. It makes me feel hope. Sometimes we hear these birds, sometimes we don’t—but they are always there in the night, perched and ready.
A few nights ago, I was sitting in my quiet house. The babies were sleeping. My husband was out. I felt this little ball of contentment wedge itself into my still heart as I heard the music of the birds. It whispered expectation over me.
It was all so spectacularly simple. I haven’t felt that kind of hope in a long while.
The most miraculous thing is, nothing has changed circumstantially. But we are breathing deeper and living larger. It’s as though the fog of grief has lifted. We are exhaling. We are shimmying out of our heavy garments faster than a skinny dipper.
And yet, we will have to don those heavy garments of grief again one day, unless something miraculous happens.
My daughter’s body is still broken. She still struggles on a daily basis to live. But she’s happy. She’s bubbling over. She knows who she is, and I think she really has accepted it. I see it every time I look into her doe brown eyes. She smiles for me, after a choke or cough or anytime I ask her if she’s okay (which is a lot). She tells me, with her curved lips and her wide, open eyes: I’m okay, mama. I’m okay.
The life cycle of grief can be confusing and long. Perhaps this is the part where I slowly awaken and accept what has happened to my family, to my daughter.
We’ve made some rather large decisions regarding her health and care. For the first time, I’m sleeping peacefully at night. Well, not actually sleeping the whole night—because babies—but my mind is at peace.
This is no small thing. This is HUGE.
This is a peace that surpasses my understanding. You know that regurgitated scripture, Philippians 4:7, that people talk about when they face tough stuff? It’s actually real. You can’t always feel it, unless you’re in the thick of it. That’s the gift of the thorn.
“Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Phil. 4:7 MSG.
I am enjoying being settled down like a child under this smooth duvet. Even still, my wounded self nudges me to think: I’m experiencing this peace because she’s going to die and I’m somehow being prepared to walk through the valley of shadows and sad things. This is the calm before the storm.
I tell myself to revel in it. This is peace, and I’ll take it. I’ll swallow it whole.
It feels and tastes and looks like a late, hot summer night on the water. Salt whipped hair and a freckled nose. Ice cold white wine and a block of hard cheese. Sandy toes and billowing white linen. It is good.
It may pass. Tomorrow might not taste as good as it does right now. But I write to remind myself of these things: the unexpected swell of cheer after a dreary day; the rise and fall of the warring empires in my heart—fear and hope. I jot down the tumultuous emotions and the messy jumble of words that often get deleted or lost somewhere on my hard drive.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s not perfect. Hope tells me that my words matter, and that my feelings and these simple, small moments make an impact on my whole being.
I’m driven to write by my unfurling story. It needs a home, and when it’s too heavy for me to carry on my own, I spill it out like wine, all over the white screen, until it’s all there—an open, pulsating puddle on the Internet. Plain letters that give words to the song of grief a mother or daughter or stranger has hummed for years. Reflection, resonation and connection. These are all wonderful reasons to write and read.
I write for myself, but I also write to make sense of the ache that so many others feel. Pain and suffering is universal. It may look and feel and smell different, but we are in this together.
I hope … you find hope tonight, in the dusk, in the unexpected song, in the sweet, simple thing with feathers.