breakfast

Depression is a thief. Cunning and wretchedly beautiful. She smiles sweetly at you, refilling your tea and telling you how the color of your dress brings out your eyes. Depression is a thief but first she is a friend. “Darling,” she says, “you seem so tired. Would you care to set your joys down for awhile?”

“No, no. Not my joys. It is not my joys that weigh me down but my burdens.”

“Ah, that’s alright, dear,” she pats your hand, “Just thought I’d ask.”

She changes the subject cheerfully but when your back is turned she places a stone in your bag. Not too large, but enough to make the dull ache in your shoulders a little louder, a little sharper at the end of the day.

It goes on in this way for some time. She asks the same question and you continue to shake your head. At times you feel perturbed with her insistence, but you know she is just concerned for your well-being.

The bag grows heavier still.

One morning she notices your strain appears great. She pulls you in a warm, tight embrace and tells you softly, “Tomorrow I will come to your house. There is no need for you to make your way here when you are so, so very tired.”

She is kind. Considerate. Thoughtful.

“Good morning darling, you seem so tired. Would you care to set down your joys for awhile?”

“No, no. Not my joys but my burdens.”

“Good morning darling, you seem so tired. Would you care to set down your joys for awhile?”

“No, no. Not my joys but my burdens.”

“Good morning darling, you seem so tired. Would you care to set down your joys for awhile?”

“No, no. I keep telling you – not my joys but my burdens.”

“Perhaps, my dear, they are one in the same? Something to think about. I’ll leave you be now. Get some rest.”

The next morning you wake to find her by your bedside. Sunlight streams through the curtains and glows golden across her cheekbones. “Good morning, darling. It is time now. You know this, don’t you?”

You have barely the energy to nod. You know now. Your joys are burdens, too. And you are so, so very tired. What else can you do but let her gather them up from your limp hands, fatigued from gripping with white knuckles for far too long.

“There now. I’ll hold on to these for you, just for a little awhile.” She tucks them into her bag and stands to leave. Before walking out the door she brushes the unruly, unwashed hair from your face and gently kisses your forehead. “Get some rest,” she whispers and is gone.

How lucky you are, to have such friends.

not you, too

All of those closest to me, and I imagine quite a few more that can not, for whatever reason, add their voices. Me too. Me too. Me too.

You too? Me too.

We shouldn’t require women to rip themselves open over and over again to give a shit. And yet, we do. Even worse, those who didn’t care before likely will not care any more now. It’s just a dance that we do. Please? Hello? Are you listening? Don’t be silly, you know the answer.

I spend a lot of time and energy examining the past and present. What did we do? What could we have done? What can we do now? Sometimes though, it feels a little too overwhelming, a little too hopeless. A little too fucking much. In those times I have to look to an imagined future, as fantastical as it may be. I have to look to my daughter.

Sweet(sour) girl, I must apologize. You will inherit this mess having had nothing to do with it’s creation – just as I did from my mother, just as she did from hers, and on and on it goes. You see, we are the granddaughters of the witches they could not burn and now we have the matches. I will do everything in my power to both protect and arm you – anything to prevent a, “Me too,” in your voice twenty years from now. It is nothing short of an incredible, suffocating honor to be the spark to your flame.

To those who offer you eggshells and unspoken rules, I hope you bark laughter in their faces and stomp it all to hell (both combat boots and high heels work well for this). Truthfully, it may not be the shushing fingers pulled to lips that sting but shrugged shoulders. I’m so sorry, baby. I haven’t figured out what to do about those yet. Let your mama know if you find out.

Know this: they will never stop trying to douse you out. I will be your kerosene. Burn them to the ground.

loaves and fish: on showing up anyway

I don’t know. I don’t know their names or their faces. Or why or what home they come from. I don’t know what they’ve been through or when or if they’ll go from here. I honestly don’t even know how we’ll do this at all. All I know is that we have to.

The day I found out I was pregnant with Margo I knew something was wrong. Hand to God the very second I looked down at those devastatingly blue lines, these words scrolled across my mind: “Something bad is going to happen.” But I swallowed them down and opened the bathroom door and on shaky feet brought the test to my husband. Five months later when we went to the hospital because I was leaking, the midwife tested the fluid and looked up at me. Not a breath passed by before once again, I knew. “We’re going to lose her. She’s not going to make it.” I knew, I knew, I knew and it did nothing. Knowing does nothing.

Two days later I sat empty and sad, hollow and soft in the thin, starchy, pink gown. The one with buttons for nursing your alive and well newborn. Hours before I sat crying alone in the dark, my arms wrapped around myself like a prayer. Like maybe if I held on tight enough I could stop my backstabbing uterus from contracting around my fragile daughter. Eventually my ever so steadfast crisis mode clicked on, the tears stopped, and I stood to pack my things for Labor and Delivery. And somehow my heart kept beating. Ever since that day it has been a whisper and an ache in my bones – foster. 

I don’t know how, but I know I have to. There have been things in my life that I wanted to do. In fact, my anxiety makes anything I want to do something I want to do badly; I don’t like waiting. Even with all that urgency in my veins I have never felt anything like this. This is not a “thing I want to do”. I mean, it is. But, it’s not a thing. It is a calling. I like that word. Calling. I use it a lot in regards to my faith. We are called. We are called to do that, and that, and that. I am called to do this.

Call. It has become a heavy and fervent word.

Since beginning the process to get our license I have second guessed myself a thousand times daily. Save for the days when everything is magical and easy and I think to myself, “Oh hell yeah I’ve got this. Look at me – parenting the shit out of this tough cookie. Well done, Rachel.” Very quickly however, the universe realigns itself back into chaos and I wonder as minutes and routines pass by, “Where is a stranger’s baby going to fit into any of this?” At 8pm when my toddler is running naked through the house, being chased by her father wielding a toothbrush, I look inward and upward to ask, “How?” Faithfully the answer always comes, “Just show up.”

And you know what? Thats exactly what I am capable of doing. I don’t get it perfectly. A lot of the time I don’t even get it well. I curse and I shop at Target too much. Our house could use some new carpet and we have frozen pizza every week. But I can show up. Ragged, but here. This has become my mantra when I can’t possibly understand how my meager offerings will be enough. Just. Show. Up.

Just show up. With your store bought muffins and your dying plants. With your endless fatigue and no bra. Bring your OCD, your anxiety, your depression. Come with your car on it’s last legs and your walls with peeling paint. Bring your debt and your yoga pants. Show up and watch God feed the multitudes with your tiny townhome pantry.

They are here now – right now. They don’t have the time to wait around for perfect people. But they can make do with me.

“Learn to do right; seek justice.

    Defend the oppressed.

Take up the case of the fatherless;

    Plead the case of the widow.”

Isaiah 1:17

dear daughter: a letter to my wildfire child

Dear daughter, the world cannot and will not love you like I do. It is simply not possible. You see, your veins are continuations of mine. When I was growing in my mother’s womb I held you already inside of my own, matryoshka nesting dolls of women.

Dear daughter, you are golden like honey and also flame. People will try to consume you then pull away, scorched. Do not let them douse you to ashes. Do not let them have your sweetness and not your heat.

Dear daughter, you are not broken. At least, not any more so than the rest of us. You are not to be fixed. You are to be taken whole and loved entirely.

Dear daughter, I have patience enough for you and when my stores run low I will dig deep and find more. You are worthy of time and understanding and effort.

Dear daughter, know your flaws but neither justify nor apologize for them.

Dear daughter, listen to the voice in your belly when it prods you to speak louder. Understand that passion can scare people who are not ready for it. Get loud anyway.

Dear daughter, there is peace and goodness in silence, too. Understand that reserve can scare people who are not ready for it. Be still anyway.

Dear daughter, do not subscribe to the mistakes of the world. Intelligence is far superior to beauty. Pretty is not your purpose.

Dear daughter, do not subscribe to the mistakes of your mother. Kindness matters far more than intelligence. Superior is not your purpose.

Dear daughter, know that God is love and love is God’s work and above all, above all, above ALL it is what we are called to do. Your self, your family and friends, the man who cut you off in traffic, and the people you cut out for your own peace and health. Let love humble and restore you with the rise and set of the sun.

Dear daughter, balance is a facade. Behind its serene mask a toxic perfectionism is haunting. Let yourself bounce freely and at times wildly from one state to another. Label your days good or bad but never yourself. Allow yourself to be human – hung intentionally between animal and divine.

Dear daughter, remember wherever or however you wander there is a place for you by my side or in my arms. Come what may, I have always been and will always be a home.