I have to tell you a story, and I don't know where to begin. I tried starting at the first moment, but realized my first moment was only me entering into the middle of a long and old story. I erased and started a treatise on trust and sovereignty and the weight of those words almost sank me, so I erased them too. I decided on a metaphor, the garden to reflect the story of growing people in communities. The story almost flitted away, losing all its meaning in flowery fluff. And so I erased that too. Again and again, I have tried to find a way to share this story with you. Can you take one side and perhaps we can carry it together?
Once upon a time and a place, a young girl wanted the grief of losing her sister to an overdose to stop hurting for just a little while or possibly forever, so she tried an overdose, too. Her mother is so damn tired of being resilient, her heart so broken that it has been attacking her lately. Together they stay in hospitals where doctors use lyrical weighty words to describe their hearts breaking. Tak-a-tak-a. Tacky. Tachy. They are wandering dangerously close to not taking, tacking anymore. The time upon once was yesterday.
Now today, my heart is breaking, too. And maybe yours? Because you and I just want to be good. Create good. Grow flowers. Deliver veggies. Takata-takata-takata. Fine, strong-hearted people that we are. We don't really want to be triggered into feeling a grief that could disrupt the strong, pounding relentlessness of good.
But sometimes you drive up into a driveway, with a truck full of vegetables beautifully arranged, sun shining on you, and you feel the air turn dark with menace. You see the car parked haphazardly in the driveway, the door to the house standing open. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Your heart starts flooding your eardrums. Takata whoosh. Takata whoosh. Something is wrong. How could anything be more wrong in a house so filled with grief?
I'm saying you, inviting you in, asking you to hold my sense of foreboding as your own. But it was me carrying the bag of veggies to the door when a man filled the frame, rippling with rage. Some part of my mind wondered why we teach boys to express grief as anger. But this was no boy sneering down at us.
"Some woman is here."
His wife slid around him and out the door. "It's just Sonya," she explained. "She brings food."
He continued to loom as we stood on a porch he probably built with his own hands when his daughters were small. He had left this home some months ago and had never seen me before, didn't know I was good. Soon his daughter slipped around him and through the door, wild-eyed and shaky.
"Hey! I brought you some strawberries and blueberries. You like those right?" He harrumphed in the background. She nodded shakily.
I felt my ire rising. I wanted to give him a side eye. I briefly considered launching some of the berries at him. Instead I offered her a hug and she skittered off. He disappeared into the house and then left.
"That man is the devil. He came in here while we were in the hospital and took all the cash I had, $70, because the girls bedrooms weren't clean. He came here today and gave me a carton of cigarettes. As if that's what I need." And then the mother started to cry, listing things she actually did need like a blood pressure monitor. Tak-a-tak-tak-tak.
We put the groceries on the counter and listened for a good long while. I got in the truck and spent a few minutes raging and plotting against devil ex-husbands who have safe combinations and keys to houses before I became aware of the presence riding along in the truck with us.
And that's where the story takes a turn, back to the beginning.