I love facts — like L’Oreal, infallible; like the sun in the sky, tangible; like gravity, understandable. Tears, for example, are produced by the lacrimal glands, and are perched above our eyes. This is a fact about tears. Unbiased; objective; trustworthy; something so certain that it would be a waste of breath to argue about it.
We are human, though, so there are few statements uttered that actually contain factual information. We flounder; we waver; we are tempted; we are easily distracted in class. We love one another with the kind of love that makes us inherently unreliable. Prone to magnify the flaws in others about which we are the most insecure. We are the real-life re-enactment of the Bible; we all have 2x4’s stuck in our eyes.
We are busy, too, so incredibly busy that we cannot stop to examine the very things that impair us. So caught up trying to be Superman that we scarcely realize that we’d do a better job of everything if we could fully see. I have patience, though, for the dust in the eyes of children: and, in turn, they have patience for me.
And I can say with all honesty that I believe that no child is born bad. I believe that broken crayons still color. I believe every poster in every therapist’s office for individuals under the age of 21. With children, I see antecedents. With children, I want to know the function of the behavior. I know that what unites all children is a desire to be loved: and how easily children conflate love with attention.
It’s a different world after 5:30, though, and I don’t want to see you. I don’t even like you: and I make sure that you know. I’m so used to showing you that the way you act is unacceptable that I almost don’t notice the way you’re wearing your pain like the coat you should have had on this late in December. Almost. Grief is heavy, but the only thing I’ve had to grieve for is the loss of a husband still living.
One second at a time turns to a minute, an hour, a day and I guess I didn’t realize what I took for granted until its absence is the light gone from your face. I still don’t like you — but I hope you drive safe.
Drive safe because there’s a string of every kind of vehicle with flashing lights lining the same road that was shut down about a month ago, baby seat in the middle of the street. Drive safe because there’s a truck leaned against the guard rail and a car crumpled up like a soda can. Drive safe because the winter threatens to smother the flame of hope that burns in the hearts of all of us with roots somewhere warmer, somewhere very far away.
Far away now in the city of dust, counting down the days, hours, minutes until something else that cannot fill the empty space in our hearts comes to pass. How undeniably breakable we are, fragile, this side up. So intent on helping others to see clearly that we don’t even notice that we can’t see straight. It’s so much easier to play superhero than it is to wrestle with our own imperfections.
Wrestle, we must, though, because the sands of time are slipping away, and the more we tighten our grip, the more slips through our fingers. Wrestle, we must, because it’s only a matter of time before people made of dust, to dust, return. Berry lights are certain as stars in the heavens, sirens are white noise on Rochester nights. A mother should never have to bury her child. Too many balloons in the sky.