Holidays are for the strong hearted. For the over romanticized hearts with traditions to keep and moments to make. I have always loved the holidays. All of them. I used to think it was because of my writer’s soul. I used to think a lot. Our souls are much different and so much the same as yours. Only a writer doesn’t just live their own story. We live everyone’s story. It sets us apart... though also keeps us familiar. I call it, ‘Knowing Strangers’...I think I’ll make that a title one day.
Back to Christmas, my writer’s brain sometimes works the idea backwards. This is hard for the people closest to me to grasp- the way I see a story within every story. But this blog isn’t so much about me. This blog is about someone very close to me instead.
The holiday this year felt as if I was sitting on a curb... wide eyed and silent. I felt as if I was watching all the loving and laughing faces converse around me, almost in a theatrical way. I listened and I too chimed in. I smiled and I ate plenty. But I was as melancholic as a bluebird caught in a storm drain. As an onlooker, you know the bird can just...take flight- fly away and dance over the crowded street and through the clouded day. You watch the bird, you wait it out...you even think of helping or worse, you think of what waits in those dark storm drain bowels. Is it death? A maimed leg? Lost? What should I do?
You watch that bird and you think if it doesn’t fly soon, it’s gonna’ be bad. Maybe even horrific. What’s it even waiting for? Why is it there to begin with? The questions are sometimes more haunting than the drains black stomach but the way the bird just sits and watches...!
Perhaps, that is the most feared thing of all.
What if the bird never leaves? (Writer’s mind, story within a story- keep up).
I sat on a couch, too worn to enjoy, in my childhood home. I sat and I laughed. I listened and I watched. So many of us are like this. Watchers. It’s a heavy and deceiving thing. Because seeing isn’t always truth. Ah...the most coveted rule just flipped upside down. Actions speak louder than words.
But sometimes the actions are judged and that speaks louder than the action itself. It can also speak wrong.
I wasn’t the only watcher in the room that’s what this holiday taught me. I almost missed it too but then she sat down beside me. Her tired eyes unclear. Her warm housecoat sweet smelling. She was quiet. But she was smiling. I watched her watch the grandkids and I suddenly knew it wasn’t me that was like that bluebird in the street drain. It was her.
She didn’t recognize me. Nor my oldest sister. She hid it too. She watched without watching and I knew by her loving, puzzled face she wouldn’t fly away. She isn’t quite in the drain’s belly yet either and for that I was grateful. She is deciding, without deciding...if she will go deeper into the black.
We don’t know how to help her. And for now she just sits at the opening of a new place. Why she is there, we don’t know. What direction she will take, well...we’re too afraid of the drain to think on that. So for now we watch. And we wait.
She is a religious woman. Her mind is yet failing. But if God counts the sparrows...what can he do for the most beautiful of birds?
Until then, I will watch without judgment and with preparedness to take flight. So sit tight bluebird...for you know this stranger.
I am your daughter.’
-EM “Knowing Strangers’ A day in the life”