The pain I have felt recently has me shelled out; it is indescribable. It has been months since I have written anything except sad poetry and the occasional column, and even working with most of what I have left has amounted to nothing more than that.
Both my body and mind ache daily—not to mention my heart. I wake up to persistent pain in my hips and back, my bed no longer comfortable from the permanent indents my bones have managed to leave in an almost brand-new mattress. My head hurts from nights spent in front of a computer screen, my glasses lost in my mess of a room as I stare at blank documents and think of nothing into the early hours of another day.
And my heart, oh how it shatters daily. I write about numbness, I believe I feel numbness, but every day something will nudge its way in and push pieces out one by one as I sit in my uncomfortable bed and simply watch. Nothing and everything feel real at the same time, but it’s those moments, those positions in time where I turn around and meet love and hate and anger and sadness and everything, everything.
Although just for a second, it’s a whisper I can’t ignore, and it rings in my ears, and no matter how much I scream at the walls, it won’t go away. These are the moments that are real—even the bad parts. I know that I am loved, but even better than I do the same. I love so much, and I feel so much, and the bittersweet waves of emotion bash me into the sand face-first where I can barely lift my head to live—to breathe.
Sometimes it is too much to handle, and sometimes there is a hand reaching out to help me up—broken pieces and all. But even when there is no help, and even when I feel like those moments will be my last, I encounter some kind of emotion, some kind of person, that urges me to fight.
It’s Lynlee who feels like a home away from home. She is the treasured furniture picked with honeymoon-stage-like excitement that holds immeasurable laughter and happy tears and devotion and the kind of truth that comes from a place of pure and true care and concern. And she is memories made from spills on the canvas covers that will never be sold or trashed no matter how much damage has been done. It is because of this that I know that no mistake will ever be enough for her to stop cherishing the people she loves, nor enough for her to simply scrub them out of her life. She is accepting and reliable and always will be, so through a life of her own that twists and turns with countless dead-ends and detours, she makes it to the end; all for you.
It’s Abby who paints my world in colors I never knew existed, and it’s her dark reds and greens that sneak up like the warmest, clemency-filled hugs from behind that remind me of what humanity is. She is generous and honest and caring and compassionate and gracious and so good. She is good to me, and all the people she loves, and even to the ones she doesn’t; even to the ones I can tell are the source of her headaches and aches and pains and heartbreaks. Because she is someone who kills herself for others, and she often goes unappreciated yet continues to be charitable through it all. Her consistency is a blessing, and anyone who is blind to her character goes along with the rest of those who have taken her for granted. But she won’t shame you, no, for that is Abby, and she burns for you all the same.
It’s Mason who embodies the empty cans in a teenager’s car that their parents beg them to throw away upon cleaning. But you know that these things will remain etched in time all the same, whether that be by an aspiring artist, one who has yet to graduate preschool who goes through life with sticky hands, or one who is all grown up and struggling—one who started out with the glue between their fingers but has come undone all the same. He is strong when everyone else is breaking and has an affinity for giving up but will never allow you to do the same. He knows that his faults can’t be yours, so he will take you on a drive and buy you so, so much Tropical Smoothie and allow you to cry, but will later drop you off in assurance knowing that you will pick yourself back up again. He is the kind of person who wills you to push through everything, and it is because of his kind of tough love that both he and the people around him continue to grow in the rawest form of the word.
It’s Nana whose favorite color is green and is full of life and vibrancy and so many shades of the word “love.” It is motherly love and talks on floral patterned couches and green carpet and wisdom beyond anything and anyone. It is fun-loving rides in a red Buick to McDonald’s, and endless chicken nuggets and chocolate shakes and large fries, and way too many napkins stolen from dispensers on white-speckled counters. It is realistic love and talk of futures, yet the reminder burned into her grandchildren to keep dreaming all the same and to keep living with the reminder of the cost alongside the notion that it is worth it in the end. She is bunnies and tacos and shawls and morning tea and the smell of the wood from the dock at sunrise and childhood, but the most important thing to know about Nana is that she is an expert at adapting. She has suffered her share and continues to laugh, and she continues to grow with me as I only get older and love me the same as she did when I was barely five years old parading around in the flannel Snoopy pants she sewed me.
It is Lauren who is a constant state of memories passed and memories being made all at the same time. She is sage green, and she is the smell of acrylic paints drying in the grass from the sun. She is the sweet tunes of a record that spins endlessly and forever into infinity—a dream of never-ending music. And it’s the smell of peppermint and the sour heads Bang and the slider door. She is the kind of person you keep on living for, yet, through a closer look, it can be seen she thinks of you the same. It is this kind of dependency that makes all the difference when staring in the face of failure. It is through her that you can do anything, be anything or anyone that you want. She is a true gift, and she is profound and genuine and deep and unfeigned and passionate about everything she does. One ride in her car and the second the door clicks shut on the way out you are filled with thorough exhilaration. She will take on anything, and when a world so full of anger and hate and judgment stares her in the face, she stares right back with the kind of sure-stubbornness that can move mountains. And I know that she will move mountains, and she knows it too. She is humbly confident and knows the line between self-worth and cockiness. But she doesn’t stop there, no, she continues to bestow this kind of assurance upon others. It is clear to anyone in her presence that she gives, she gives you everything you never knew you needed. She gives a shoulder to cry on and a place to yell and sureness and accountability and hope and every lesson you never wanted to learn but required all the same. She helps others to grow up and to change in the most positive sense of the word, and she will never stop thriving under the soft glow of red stoplights in the winter and street lights flocked by mosquitoes in the summer.
As I have fought for my future and desperately wanted to be known, you all have been there to remind me of who I am and who I was and who I will be. I have been shown time and time again that nothing is sure except for this family. You come back for me when the waves strike my body and my bones grow colder in my bed, and I move forward as we meet in the middle.
And that is all I can ask for because there is heartbreak and pain and aches for everyone, but that is how I know that my love is real—that all of ours is. So we keep on loving, and we save each other from the sea as we exchange pieces of our hearts as we weather life’s many faces.