They came, finally. The tears. Yesterday, in a flood… releasing the overwhelm, frustration, and confusion that had consumed me for weeks. It felt good. My boys looked at me questioningly, as I puttered about with laundry and dishes, sobbing in between loads.
“I’m fine,” I told them, “just a little bit upset.” They nodded knowingly, with endearing concern in their eyes, before continuing on with their games and chatter.
This second lockdown has got me feeling like I am losing my mind. In addition, my church is experiencing conflicts that are dividing the congregation and resulting in hurt feelings on both sides. I have felt exhausted, emotional, invisible, and value-less.
And I finally told somebody.
“Some days are good,” I had typed in the email to her, “but I’ve had more bad days lately than I’d like to admit. Maybe you can pray for me.”
“Yes, I get it,” came the reply. “I would LOVE to pray for you.”
Was it her simple acknowledgment that my feelings were valid? The immediate effect of her prayers? Or the fact that I am learning to be more vocal about my concerns, whatever the outcome, as opposed to veiling them in some kind of ridiculous, prideful, even fearful – stoicism?
Whatever the case, I felt as though I had put down about seven suitcases full of bricks.
But I was still sad. Once the tears began, they didn’t want to stop.
“Are you coming skating?” My nine year old asked, his hope unhindered by my sorry state.
“I don’t think so,” I said deeply, through my stuffed up nose. My body and mind were weary. And the neighbors might see my tears.
“Ok,” he replied, and was off.
“Mo-om,” my youngest pleaded, “I want to go-oh.”
His persistence brought a smile to my lips. “Oh, alright,” I conceded, “let’s go.”
Ski pants. Boots. Gloves, coats, hats. Boy and skates in the wagon. Skate trainer in hand. Stepping onto the street, we squinted against the sun, and made our way to the rink.
A short time later, gliding over the ice, the cold air dried my tears, and freshened my lungs. A neighbor came to stand beside the rink and chat. Discretely, he held a cigarette between his fingers, not wanting my children to see. He was the one who had set up the rink for the community.
“I’ve seen you out here,” he said to my oldest. “I’ve seen your red jacket out here a lot.” Then, to me – “The last thing you want is to set something like this up, and have no one use it.”
A few minutes after he had returned to his house, a woman came by, walking her dog. “Having a nice skate?” she called. My boys engaged her conversation, in their typically nonchalant way.
“Can I pet your dog?”
“If you like dogs, you can pet her,” and she released the animal from its leash. We learned she was a therapy dog, and that her name was “Claire Bear”. The woman said she didn’t have children (other than Claire). She was on a walk to deliver a gift to a friend. She held a small gift bag in one hand. Later, I wondered if she lived alone (aside from Claire). What kind of loneliness must that be, at a time like this?
The skate was over too soon, even though I hadn’t wanted to come. “Let’s go home. I have to make supper.”
“What are you making?” (The daily, suspense-laden question.)
“Spaghetti.” Cheers, all around.
On the short walk home, I thought about our community. The rink. The Christmas lights. The people. My boys, and their unfettered positivity.
I felt better. All divisive issues aside, we need each other. The woman who prayed for me, the man who set up the rink, the woman with the sweet dog. Where do they stand on everything? Who knows. Who cares. One thing is for certain: we’re all in this together.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”Mother Teresa
A simple question for today: How are you doing? Let me know in the comments.