An Arduous Joy

I. have been. a mess. lately.

It started a few weeks ago, when I looked at some photos on Gillian & Craig's blog. Here's a sample:

One moment, I was looking at the pictures and smiling, and the next, I was heaving, huge sobs. Things were going through my mind, like, "You just don't know what's going to happen. They all love each other SO MUCH, but no one lives forever." I know - I know - this is a driving force for a lot of unschoolers, the preciousness of life and our brief time spent together. Why not make it joyful? Why stress about nothing? Do the work to make your time together mean something.

So they weren't new thoughts, but for some reason, they completely floored me that day. And it didn't help that a couple weeks later, it was Craig's birthday, and Gillian posted this:

Wah, wah, wah, all over again, for the amount of love and caring and vulnerability and human-ness wrapped up in one person. A human being! Who will, one day, not be with us, because that's the nature of humans. Oh, what a terrible, horrible thought! How can I even say that? It was really with me, the poignancy and sacredness of our ephemeral lives.

I was crying at commercials. Crying when Guy Fieri talked to a guy who'd been working at the Beacon Drive-In for 50 years. Crying when Booth skipped going out with Cam to be with Tempe. Not every day, not all the time, but man, I've been... emoting. Easily.

I fell apart in the Aldi parking lot, because I was stressed due to low funds, and someone passed their cart off to me and didn't want the quarter for it. (That one has some history. Aldi is an awesome discount grocery chain where you "rent" the cart for a quarter. I didn't know that the first time I went, didn't have a quarter, but I found a cart where someone had left their quarter in. It's a favor I've returned as often as I can. Which has been pretty often - I mean, it's a quarter!) That day, I had a quarter, but just that moment of kindness slayed me - slayed. me. - and I sobbed in the parking lot.

I've learned to be in acceptance with my feelings, not judge - most of the time - but this was... weird. It felt OK, it felt right - I mean how cool is it, really, that someone would donate their quarter to someone they don't know? It's pretty freakin' awesome, that's how cool it is. Those intersections where one human life touches another, it's miraculous and tender and incredible. And it IS temporary. It is.

Just this morning, another reminder. I was awakened around 3:30 by an argument. At first, I thought it was just loud people, talking, then I realized they were arguing. I went on alert - when I hear arguing outside, I listen for children. If there are children, I'll go see if I can help. I just realized that this morning: I'll be there, tense, listening for little voices. These weren't little voices. A man, shouting: then. A gunshot. WHAT?!! Crap! Reach for the phone, dial 911. Tell her what I heard, hang up. I still hear arguing - that's good, that means no one's been hurt, I think. I peek out my blinds - then reach back to my nightstand, grab my glasses, peek out again. If needed, I want to get details to tell the police. Loud voice, "Get out of my car! Get the f**k out of my car!!" Then. Another gunshot. The same voice, "Oh, no. Oh, God. No!" I see a man running, I notice where. Should I call the police again? No, here they come. Two cars, lights flashing. Were there sirens? I don't even remember. Shouting: "Get on the ground! Get! Down! On the ground!" "You need to call an ambulance, man, the gun's on the ground. Please call an ambulance. My friend needs help." I see them shining lights on some bushes, yelling, "Put your phone down! Drop! The phone!" They bring the same man I saw running to the police car. By that time, there are 5 police cars. Then 6. Then 7. Then a firetruck, and an ambulance. And another ambulance. More police cars. Another ambulance.

I was shaking, shaking, shaking. I went out on my screened porch to better see. Why? I'm still not sure. Part of it - I wanted to see if the person was OK, the person that was shot. I could see the back of the ambulance, I was waiting to see if they walked there, if they were wheeled there... or if they were wheeled there with their face covered. I was scared, not for me, but just... guns, man. They're loud. And metal. And so, so quick. As I was standing there, it started raining. Drizzle at first, then pouring down rain. I knew the person had died.

I was oddly comforted by the number of emergency vehicles that showed up.

A police officer walked up to the porch, and asked if I'd heard anything. "Yes, I called 911." On his radio, "We've found the third party, the plaintiff. Yes. Ms. Knox." Third party?! Me? He asked if I'd come out and make a statement, or if someone could come in. I told him my dog would go crazy if someone came in, and I'd rather go out. Put on my shoes and heavy coat. Thank goodness the boys were with their Dads this weekend. He led me to a police car, where I sat in the front seat. He said the homicide investigator would come talk to me shortly. Oh. Homicide. I guess they did die. I could see someone taking pictures, I didn't know if they were with the police or a news agency. I guess news agency.

I ended up being driven to the police station to give a statement. It was about 5 in the morning then, and I didn't get home 'til after 6:30. Before I left, I went out with my dog, Jack, to the back yard, and it was storming. Lightning and thunder. In January. I have been incredibly, incredibly sad all day. Not weepy and emotive, just sad. It sounded like the person who shot the other didn't mean to. It sounded like an argument gone horribly wrong. And that person? In the car? Here one minute, arguing, gone the next. Just. like. that. Another miraculous intersection of humans.

I don't know if this post has a point, or if it needs one. It all seems connected, somehow, the love and ephemerality and poignancy and bang. Over in an instant.

Be in love with your life. ~ Jack Kerouac


ps pirro said...

o Caren, my heart wrenched just reading this... such a terrible punctuation to your feelings of impermanence and sorrow and loss! I think we'll all hug our loved ones a little tighter today. Consider yourself hugged. xox, peggy

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God!

Content aside, this was beautifully written. You had me at your elbow the entire time.

And there is something there, about the good going hand in hand with the bad.

I am truly speechless . . .

Ronnie said...

Oh, god, Caren. I'm so sorry this violence intruded on your life.

Take care of you! Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if things have settled down a bit . . .

Zenmomma said...

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}} for you Caren.

Ren said...

I love your thoughts on this....I would be weepy too! My gosh.

I was kissing Jalen this morning, he was all snuggles and sunshine and I wondered how all these intense feelings we have, these connections and love can die when we die. It seems strange that any creature that can feel so much can die. But we do.

And it's not easy to face that reality. Living and dying...that's what we do.