At the limits of possibility

The grass is unnaturally green in that late autumn way. As if every drop of chlorophyll stored in the roots is being squeezed, rationed perhaps, out to the tips of the blades. I look from down to up, a stream of exhaled smoke like a tower above me. The tree arms bend and sway in their infinite combinations. The black of wet trunks contrasts with the bright leaves still clinging. Yellow and black, like a wasp, I think.

Why does nature resonate with the deepest parts of our souls? Why are there millions of members of the Sierra Club passionate to save our natural treasures? Why do I look up and feel peace as I watch the curvature of the tree limbs swaying in the wind?


The kids come crashing out of the house as I silently ask one last question of the tree, "Where did you come from?" They are as bright as the trees in their Halloween finery. With aunt and grandma in tow, we carouse the neighborhood snatching candy at lit doorways and running to the next light. Katy in her "Thing" costume rushes down the street, a box wrapped in black table cloths that flap sinisterly behind her.


I've heard so many arguments against Halloween in my decades at fundamentalist churchs. A pagan holiday, they say - as if Christmas is not steeped in paganism? I look around at the flushed faces and flashing eyes and the variety of the costumes. I think to myself, today is about welcoming the innocence of childhood back out into the streets and into the neighbors houses. It's about adults pausing one day a year to laugh with the next generation and celebrate their diversity and creativity and the joy they bring us.

Tears spring to my eyes. Life faltering, faith gone, this family is the last treasure I have left outside of my own brain. I feel that fierce, Mama bear guttural response as I watch them span longer and longer distances. THESE ARE MY BABIES, I want to shout to the rooftops with pride and happiness. My husband and I swirled together in four unique ways and here they are, growing up slowly, one more block trick-or-treated this year than last. They waited until dark so they could see the big kids' "scary" costumes. This year they laugh at the zombie, skeletons, vampires and ghosts.

For a moment, everything seems possible. I could stay and we could make things right in our marriage and we could keep doing just as we have. But here I stand at the junction of the possible and impossible and I find there is no line painted here in the valley of the heart that demarcates one from the other. I can only go on the instincts, that feeling of rightness when I'm planted in the possible and the immediate unrest that comes when I cross the line and my soul screams her dissent. I cannot keep the person inside me silent much longer.

I feel it, like the chlorophyll in the autumn grass blades, rising in me, this deep and private truth that ties all of my life together and explains most of the unanswered questions and illuminates the darkness of long periods of depression and self-harm. With each day, I step a little closer to myself. I makes lists of things I love. I make lists of dreams I've never vocalized. I make lists of reasons to stay and reasons to go. I make lists of beautiful things I've seen. I make lists of good thoughts to replace bad.

Though the emotions remain high, my days filled with wild swings between utter joy and complete desolation, the razor blades don't wink at me from the cupboard, the knives stay neatly in the butcher block, the pills sleep in their bottles. Something about this journey back to being me has lifted the spectre that has hovered over me for 25 year now. I ask this strange soul that has taken up occupance within me, "Where did you come from? What took you so long?" And she says back to me, "You are beautiful. You are worthy of love. You are necessary, too."

It would be an easier world if the people we are evolved earlier in life. But in truth, I've needed all of those 25 years to find my way back through the twists and thorns of the personal path of pain I journeyed down. I needed a new perspective to recognize myself, finally, at 34. It's as though the Picasso painting of my life that has perplexed for years in it's fragments is reorganizing it's parts into something I can finally see. The reflection of a face that I have missed and loved and grieved over for 25 years.

It isn't innocence returning. It's the ability to look right at the innocence lost and say that every experience of life has melted into the mosaic I admire on this day of triumph when I can open my arms to the world and announce myself unabashedly. It's moving past forgiveness to acceptance. That radical kind that knows those things shouldn't have been, but are, and it is what it is. It is the past, unchangeable, irrefutable, and I have stopped pounding my fists on the confines of time trying to shatter the glass behind me and go back and make things better the second time around.