For those of you who didn’t know, it was the anniversary of Leah’s death this past Thursday.
This is not a post about her, but her death is relevant in subtle ways, the way its quietly relevant all the time now. My friend Joe has a dead friend, and he describes it as feeling like there’s an asterisk beside his everyday actions. The asterisk symbolizes something missing. And she’s missing. But its subtle.
Or maybe its not-so-subtle. I don’t know, I’m still trying to psychoanalyze how much of the last year’s decisions have to do with her. Also can we talk about how someone needs to come up with a better word than “anniversary” to talk about a yearly murder date? I mean for crisakes.
So, Leah died a year ago and I broke things off with a boy this week. It was the first “right thing” I’ve done in ages, and it was very hard. I went out with a friend that night and kept doing this thing where I stare at the ground and hold my hands on my knees, palms up, and say “What the fuck just happened to my life?”
And its about to get more dramatic!
Because I went nuts journaling about what happened that night, and I’m going to paste that, verbatim, here. Duces.
I told everyone last night about my train track prophet, but I couldn’t really express what he meant to me. Rob G, desolation angel of Tempe.
I’d spent the day lying on my roommate’s couch, amusing myself online and moping about the state of my life. Kate called. She’d never been to Casey Moore’s and wanted to go. I, having just realized I was legitimately depressed (tired all the time, listless, bored, etc.) jumped on the opportunity. She told me about her boy troubles and I told her mine, and we left the bar for Farmers’ Market chocolate, which we ate sitting on the train tracks.
And that’s when the prophet showed up. My wiry Dharma bum. He asked if we were alright and I misheard him.
“Nah, we don’t have a light.”
“What? No I’m not asking for anything. I asked if you two were alright.”
Once the confusion was dispelled he said we needed to be safer, that a train could come or something. We laughed it off and offered him chocolate.
Something about rag-tag homeless talkers always sets me at ease. I like their stories. I like that there’s no division when you’re just talking. We discussed the mess in Syria and how he’s come to terms with his codependency problem with his ex-girlfriend. He shared his experience of learning to be still, to be quiet with himself and the pleasure he takes in cooking actual meals. He said all that was awful at first, stifling even, but it was worth it. His tawny body crouched on the train tracks beside me.
And I’ll get back to that. But what you need to know is that God is a good father. A daddy even.
Yesterday my friend’s six-year-old hit a girl at school. My friend cancelled dinner plans with me to show her boy how serious his actions were. The boy was mortified by his actions as well, however, and had apologized to the little girl multiple times. My friend is a good mommy. She and the boy discussed anger, violence, and better choices, and she told him about being sweet. Its important to be sweet to people because they could be having a hard day and the sweetness could make their day better. Then they may be sweet back.
To bring the point home, my mommy friend brought her boy to the candy section of the grocery store and they picked out their favorites. Then they enjoyed their candy snuggling on the couch. It filled their mouths and soothed their throats and eased into their bellies. It brightened both their days.
Later, still snuggling, they read storied about heros and dogs.
I don’t know if the boy will remember that the first time he hit a girl his mother bought him candy. I bet he’ll remember that he should be sweet, though, because sweet things are delicious and make him feel good.
You know, she didn’t need to take such measures to “teach her son a lesson”. She could’ve spanked him, sent him to bed early, admonished him, or even (and worse than all) sighed and let it slip by.
But she is a good mommy. She stoops low to meet her sons so they don’t have to crane their necks. She is a hundred percent invested in their lives, their hearts and minds. She wants the good for them.
I think that’s the kind of Daddy God is. He doesn’t need to reward us for, say, discontinuing self-destructive relationships, but sometimes he does.
So its almost midnight and I’m sitting next to an old friend and a homeless man, on the train tracks, and we have chocolate. Earlier that day I’d broken things off with a boy, I’d admitted to myself and out loud that I was depressed (a-fucking-gain) and let down my fine-with-a-capital-F veneer. Probably it all came to a head because of how close my teen-hood soulmate’s murder anniversary was.
Repentance is a slow thing. Sometimes its not even a “turning”, but more like putting your hands over you eyes and refusing to keep moving in the direction you’ve been stomping for the last year. Sometimes its just a halt.
And how I feel about my homeless saint’s words last night is this; God, in his infinite patience, love, and pleasure, outside of time and perfectly concerned about every one of his babies, was overjoyed like the prodigal’s daddy because of my halt. God couldn’t run to me and cover me in his arms, but he wanted me to know how he felt. He wanted me to know what he thought of me.
I’ve read the Bible enough to be audacious enough to actually believe this.
So that train track prophet spoke his revelation to me after we’d said our goodnights. He looked over his shoulder as we left and declared me “wholesome” and “pure. Those exact words. He said there was a lot of ugly in the world (“believe you me!”) but that I was untainted by it. He said he could tell.
“Seriously,” he said. ”Stay that way. Don’t ever let it get you. You’re lovely.”
And stunned, I walked back to the car and cried when I got home. I can (and do) laugh all I want about my bad behavior, my checkmate mentality regarding relationships, and my borderline addictions. I say I don’t need to be fixed, how dare you, but what about that sinking suspicion that my heart really is too broken to love anybody well? I’ve felt hollow and defeated and hopeless. I’ve felt wasted and washed out, ugly and old and forgotten. Stagnant, tired, and bored.
And then God spoke through a homeless man to tell me I’m lovely.
And today, I saw a man stop his delivery truck to help another man push his stalled car into a parking lot. Common graces.
Also today I received my last check from my camp job, and a text from my newspaper editor about another gig.
And I saw a coworker at the library, and today has just been soothing.
I think there’s a God who’s a hundred percent invested in his kids’ lives, their hearts, their minds, their souls, and he loves to bring good gifts.
So yeah, I think God is sweet. If he was here he’d have bought me candy.