Posts Tagged ‘A Door in the Floor’

I watched a movie recently called “A Door in the Floor” about a woman who lost her two sons in an accident and how her life and marriage unwound inexorably after that. There was nothing possible that could stop it. Concurrently the book I was reading was about poetry as the other side of insanity. “The Quickening Maze” is set in a Victorian British asylum. The caregivers are more certifiable than the inmates. Most of the patients are creative types, most but not all of them, mad. I see attributes of myself in each and every character.

Such quixotic media invites an orgy of introspection. Can I make a case for being truly rational? Can my life really be the passage of a sane woman through an insane world? Hardly. Only a lunatic could have left such a path of destruction, while trying so earnestly to make everything come out real and true. My right path is keeping on trying. Somehow there will be a way to wind it all up and lay me down to sleep with a measure of peace and honor. I refuse to believe the lie that my only resolution is suicide. I must keep strong and demonstrate for my sons a noble path that leads to grace and goodness. That is surely the way to redemption.

Then an e-mail from an old friend arrived. I had sent some of my pieces to her. She wrote back complaining that they had “too many words”. It was reminiscent of the scene in Amadeus where the Emperor tells Mozart that his composition has “too many notes”. Jane is tone deaf about art of any kind. Not only can she not approximate a pitch, but she can’t choose clothing of complimentary colors, nor visualize objects on two dimensional drawings. Why should she appreciate my efforts at creative writing? Why am I writing about what I have endured, and how brave, though foolhardy, am I being in sharing it with others? I expect too much. At least she got me out of my head and into hers, a serendipitous interposition.

Another voice from the past, Nan, comments on my blog, telling me that what I am writing is beautiful. I don’t necessarily believe her, but she is kind. It is the very breath of life for me that some dear somebody cares enough to comment. All these serendipitous inputs are telling me that we aren’t expected to repair the past. Friends need only love us.

Remember playing cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers a lifetime ago? When we get shot, we’re supposed to fall down dead. I am defying the rules by behaving as if I could express life as an algebraic equation and solve it. I should simply fall apart after taking so many mortal blows. I am keeping on keeping on because Daddy taught me to stop when bad things happen, and think about what to do, and then do it quietly and thoughtfully. I should be drugging or drinking or plotting suicide, but I’m not. What’s inhuman is that I’m still slogging on, nursing the possibility of hope.

If I share this with anyone, I will be immersing them in my pain. That is wrong. I need to internalize my own anguish, not broadcast it. It is my pain, my punishment. I can take it. Everybody at my so perfect church acts like everything is just fine. That must be the secret to maintaining a classy persona. Stay cool. Keep moving. Pretend all is well. Why does it work for them and not for me? Maybe I’m not a good enough pretender.

Today I watched “The Rabbit Hole”, with Nicole Kidman, a story of losing a young child under the wheels of a car. She, as did I, sought out the driver of the car and offered forgiveness. For her it brought a measure of redemption; for me, it only separated me even more from accepting the hole of my heart. I should have screamed at him and beat his chest. That would have been more honest, more real.

For all these many years I have written all around my grief, but addressed it only through metaphorical stories about talking trees and rumbling roads and pontificating shingles. How crazy is that? The world waits for me to crumble. I refuse to give them that satisfaction. Better to be strong and crazy than weak and sane.

At my daughter’s funerary viewing, hundreds of people showed up to see her sweetly asleep, shrouded in lace, dead and beautiful in her white coffin. It had the sense of a surreal circus. As a mother, all I could feel was embarrassment. I met no one’s gaze, and they were happy to leave me alone with my loss. They were every one so glad it was me and not them who had made that most heinous of all mistakes. Precious children must not be allowed to die whether by accident or by intent. Death must not win out. I failed in that most basic requirement of being maternal. It’s not enough to make life. The obligation that goes on to the end of forever is to keep it alive.

I am thankful for the serendipity that continues to place in my path endless possibilities for understanding and healing. It must have something to do with a cosmic curl of caring reaching out to encircle me, protecting, forgiving, cherishing. There must be a God.

Read Full Post »