My day, so far, is laundry, boiling water, fixing meals, and listening to the wind. Our area of Texas is just a few days past a hundred year record breaking amount of snow, ice, as well as water, heat, and food deprivation.
My husband and I are incredibly lucky. No burst pipes or destruction in our house. We lost heat and electricity for a day. Just a day. Again, we were lucky.
Today we got the all clear to stop boiling water, and the okay to begin washing over a week’s worth of dirty laundry. There’s a certain Zen flavor to washing clothing, but I despise folding and putting away the cleaned things. It’s as if my brain’s done once the stuff comes out of the dryer. Luckily my husband picks up the slack and sees it through.
Between loads I sit facing the big windows of my den, relishing the fresh air blowing in, the sound it makes bouncing down the hill outside. An old faded watering can hanging on a shepherd’s crook is free of the one foot plus icicle it wore last week. It swings and gently bounces in the wind.
I pray for my friends and neighbors who lost loved ones last week to cold or Covid-19. I pray for those grieving for the 500,000 dead from this Pandemic. So much loss. So much grief. May God comfort them, and may our leaders guide us out of the wilderness.
This week I participated in a particularly juicy Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime Chapter meeting. Nothing like opening up the human heart to ponder why people kill, and why mystery/thriller writing needs those bodies to show up.
Which made me think of my own close scrapes with death and danger, whether they be near drownings, car accidents, illness, and the like. I grew up petrified of water, and it wasn’t until someone pointed out a photograph of me in a wading pool that two and two equaled four. I had a relative who was not to be left with other grand kiddies in said wading pool after holding a few of us down under water. In the photograph the relative was beaming, the rest of the kiddos not so much. The explanation she gave for nearly drowning us? She wanted to teach us to swim. Yeah.
The same relative, whom I was too stupid to distrust, sped about our small town with me holding on for dear life as she attempted to fling me off her car hood. I can still see the laughing faces in the car. Yeah, no one stopped her then either.
But the big picture here is the deadly tightness of family loyalty at times, the unsaid oath to keep secrets and don’t stir up trouble, even if death’s involved. If you grow up in that toxic brew of a bath, you get gaslighted into believing creepy Uncle Walt really didn’t touch you inappropriately, that you imagined any number of horrible things. Like someone trying to kill you. They were just kidding around. Don’t make a fuss.
If you growth up with few or no needs being met, you learn how to scrabble for control, for food, for things, and suspect anyone who wants to love you. And if you’re lucky to have at least one person who loves you unconditionally, the loss of them is devastating.
I went through other close calls with death in my life, but each one left a mark, an unseen scar on my heart. The ones I went through as a child are the deepest and least easy to forget. I spent most of my life taking care of myself at the expense of my little family and friends. I’ve been selfish and self centered out of some primeval need for surviving. That’s no excuse though.
Who we are now in this moment, looking back at our mistakes, our sins, our regrets, can remake us whole. Forgiving ourselves and asking forgiveness when possible. Making mental and spiritual restitution to those who love us and want us in their lives, if possible. Forgiving, if possible, those monsters who preyed on us so that they no longer have a grip on our lives.
May we all find peace and love in our lives.