I look at my desk. My desk represents many different parts of me because it includes what I’m working on and what I want to be working on. It includes things like about three dozen books all arranged the way I wish I could arrange my life…the nonfiction filled with dreams over how-tos and fiction books organized by the colors of the rainbow. There are representations on my desk of little chores like store signage and email addresses I need to add to my newsletter. I can easily ignore chores for weeks at a time, by the way. There are tucked away comforts like salted peanuts and hand lotion. Also pens, lots of colored pens. I love color. I’ve been renting clothes instead of buying them because I like changing what I wear all the time. But the rentals are full of really, really dull colors. Everything’s neutral and I want lavender, peach, and aqua. So I end up buying markers instead and filling notebooks with different colored script, script I’m not sure future generations will be able to read. Speaking of notebooks, I can count six just from where I sit. I see the processing journal, idea journal, and task journal. Did you know I plan my week based on the rhythms of the moon? I do. Even if there’s no scientific proof that the full moon fills jails and ERs, for example, I still plan that way because it helps me make a time for everything without rigidity. Today as I write this, the moon is an Aries (fire) moon in the waning gibbous stage. So it’s a content creation day to wrap up some projects. A day to let go of the details and create with more of a sweeping perspective. If I was a painter, today my tapestry would be as large as a wall, but I’d be in the finishing touches stage.
But what is my desk REALLY talking to me about today?
Side note: I think I have come a long way in believing the worst about myself and situations. If you believe the Bible, the view of humanity isn’t great. Granted, we start out made in God’s image, but it’s pretty much downhill from there until we get to heaven. Even though the Bible said we were free in Christ…whatever that was actually supposed to mean…I almost never felt free. I always felt so far from where I thought I needed to be. I spent decades…that is not hyperbole…trying to improve and get rid of what I thought was the sin in my life. I thought being honest about perceived sin was the way to live most holy and that’s what God wanted of me. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” See, the verses still roll right out. I thought being honest about where I was falling short was a daily discipline. It’s a heavy life to live to always swim in the fishbowl of never being good enough.
I bring this up because if I’m going to write today’s truth, I have to admit i want to put my head on this desk today. I just feel so tired and sad. I’m hesitant to write about it, though, because I don’t want to communicate with the heaviness, shame, and doubt that I swam in for decades.
OK, that was a tangent to avoid what I really need to write about. What I need to write about today is the truth that on my desk is her seventh grade school picture.
Her eighth grade one is at home. It sits on the piano underneath the (very large) senior portraits of the brothers. When she moved out two years ago, one of my conditions was that we would get her portrait done if she moved away from the area. I knew there wouldn’t be a high school graduation and I wanted something tangible to mark that season of life. But it didn’t happen. She left the area and told me in an email once she was gone. There was no rite of passage, no marking of time, no goodbye. So the seventh grade picture is the one I display on this desk because it’s what I have.
Mother guilt could change me in the next half of life in a way I may not recover from. It’s really trying. I don’t write that to be dramatic. I write that to say that there is hurt that can change us in ways that we don’t bounce back from. This is mine. People keep telling me the story isn’t over. But actually, the story I was writing IS over and I don’t know how it or if Part II will even be written. I have paid the therapist A LOT to help me let go of the guilt. I show up as best I can to build a life beyond how things went down. But today…today the store is quiet and I look at my desk. My desk represents to me all the ways I’m trying to build a life apart from her. For me it’s a life of books, ideas, colors and customers. It’s a life and desk where I write again. Where I’ve tried to believe I can build something besides a home. My store has been the little business that could, but I don’t think we’re going to reach an apex that will result in this being my second half of life vocation. The desk shows me I’m really trying, though.
And. It’s been three years since I touched her, my little one that crawled into bed with me way past her being little. I wish I was farther along in building a life without her, but I’m just not. Because that part of life came to a screeching halt. And all I have on this desk is a seventh grade picture.
In the meantime, it’s true. Gratitude does help. Thankful for other ways I see my family free and healing. I’m not sure how specific to get here, but I’ll just say my heart towards my sons and husband beats strong.
I want to have hope for this, too. Today is not that day. But I did write instead of putting my head down on the desk, though licorice might have been involved. Somehow, someway I will find something fulfilling for the second half of life. But above all things, I was a more than full-time homemaker and nothing else really makes sense yet. She’s gone and it’s been three years and I can’t live like she’s coming back.
From my heart to yours,