By Amanda Cleary Eastep
1. Nearly every day for 15 years I have heard my son’s voice until the judge decides my son will live with his father while his two sisters and I will move out of the house, but I leave most of the children’s books because it upsets him to see me pack these. But I take the ones most precious, The Giving Tree and Where the Wild Things Are, so I can keep them safe even though I couldn’t save all of us. And days and days pass between the painful visits and our quiet riots.
Today there are moments when I embrace him, and he is so tall I can put my head on his chest, and his grizzled chin touches my forehead when he says he loves me and lets me hold him, longer than I should because he is a man now, but he lets me anyway. And that quiet heals.
2. When the anesthesia doesn’t take right, and I am lying frozen, there is only sharp pain in my belly and words like thought bubbles in my mouth that I try to speak but can’t hear. Voices fade and my eyes won’t stay open, and I fight the world lying flat on top of me. I fight because I have a little boy at home and a baby the doctors are trying to free from my wrong-half paralyzed body, and I hope the muffled voices are fighting that quiet riot, too.
Five years after moving from our home, five years holding in an I love you, my born-butt-first daughter walks into the kitchen, puts her head on my shoulder and cries and cries and says, I love you, I’m sorry, I love you, and I am strangely calm and sorry that she says sorry, but I let her let it out. The relief is like deep water around us, and the quiet is freeing.
3. The daily struggle of skin and spine and heart issues is not evident to the many people my youngest daughter pours kindness on. But sometimes, when her body is covered in flaring red, she cries and feels hopeless and asks me why God gave her this when he also gave her a heart to travel the world. I tell her that is a good question and just hold her because sometimes there is no answer in the quiet riot.
Soon after she turns 18, she flies to N. Africa with her new backpack, her camera, and her inhaler. There is a peace that prevails because she and I only have trust that this is Your call God. But during the dark, early morning hours the walkie-talkie app shrilly signals a voice message and wakes me from my now normal half sleep. I rush with my phone to the silent living room, and I hear her say, I’m safe and I love these people in the desert. And the quiet is an empty room full of peace.
4. We’re having another one of THOSE conversations. I’m asking him what’s next, and he’s not answering, or at least not in the booming, split the red sea, shake the heavens kind of voice I apparently still need after all these years. Restless, uncertain, and with a teenager’s assurance that my Father might just not “have this,” I sit in my solitary cubicle each morning while my heart quietly riots.
In the bed that my father built and painted bright yellow, I wake in the middle of the night. There is a presence that fills the room. Good as Santa but even scarier, so I lie there crying until my grandmother hears me. She sits on the edge of the bed. Did I have a nightmare? Did I get my period for the first time? She is at an even greater loss when I say No, God is calling me. She brushes back my bangs and says, It will be alright. But now I know the power in that quiet whisper.
Previous #wholemama posts: