When I am faced with a difficult situation, I often ask myself “What can I learn from this?”
There are two situations that I am embroiled in this year, and I feel like I’ve been in the spin cycle of a washing machine since last February. My husband’s battle with stage two testicular cancer and my mother’s second involuntary committal followed by her second diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia this summer have both changed my life and forced me to confront almost every demon I have.
Apparently, 2018 is teaching me to face all my fears all at the same time.
Folks, if I fall into a well or am attacked by a clown this year, please call a medicine man or woman…
or perhaps an exorcist.
I’ve been going through my journals and trying to make sense of my scribbles. Below are a couple entries from last February. They are a little rough yet, but I think they deserve to have a few readers.
A Medicine Cabinet Full of Marbles
When we first moved into our home on Council Hill Drive, we found marbles strewn everywhere, likely from the previous owners’ grandchildren. Marbles in the yard, marbles in the rocks around the house, marbles in the vents, marbles in the cabinets.
I took it as a good sign.
When I was a kid, in the years before my Grandma Joy died, I vividly remember her jars of marbles and buttons. I loved the swirls of color in the marbles and finding the shooter in the mix. The buttons were pretty, too, but there was something lovely about caressing the sphere of a smooth, cool marble in the palm of my hand. In one of my magic trick books, I read that if you cross your index and middle finger and roll a marble underneath the pads of your fingers, one marble would feel like two. Nerve endings and marbles intermixed in this bizarre tactile experiment, and I never tired of it.
I sometimes wonder how many marbles went astray after I dumped them all over the floor and how many times my patient Grandma Joy had to bend her thinning muscles, tired and worn from years of battling cancer, to pick them all up and place them back in her Mason jars.
I still find a marble here and there around our home. Every time I find one, I clean it, but before I put it in my own Mason jar, I roll it between my two crossed fingers and think of Grandma Joy’s patience, her love, her handwritten letters in shaky scrolled letters.
Fear is racing through my body and tightens around my throat. I work to fold the fear away. Place it in a storage bin to be taken out again next year, but it fights me this time.
I used to be so adept at folding my fear away and forging on with a life draped in sarcasm and bitterness, which are like fear patches for the pain. It was the only way I knew how to survive. Now the patches are growing threadbare and the pain confronts me.
I cannot fold it away. I must look it in the eye, conquer it.
For me. For him. For us.