Sitting Upon My Sleeve

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Last week, Corinne, my wife, and I were walking on the beach.  There was little chatter,  both introverts, we are more than comfortable in our silence.

The day was gorgeous.  The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and speckled with creamy puffs of whip-cream, creatively changing shapes above our heads.   The water’s ebb and flow teased our feet, and the air smelt salty, crisp, and clean.

Glancing at my feet, I noticed a perfectly rounded shell, and my first thought was, “Gosh, that would be a perfect home for a hermit crab!”

That one thought took me back some 17 years ago…and not to a happy place, but to a place of anguish within my heart.  Who knew I still carried such intense emotion on my sleeve…and that it could be just as raw as the first day I experienced it.

Seventeen years ago I divorced my husband of eighteen years.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life.  It went against everything I had been raised to believe…it went against the faith that I had clung to all of my life, but  I was gay, and I could live the lie no more.  At the age of 36 I told my husband, a good man, the truth I had known from a child.

We had two beautiful children, that we loved with all of our hearts.  The time came when I had to tell them I was moving out.  That moment is by far, the hardest moment of my entire life.  Their brokenhearted cries haunt me still.  Sometimes it is so strong that I can do nothing but breakdown and weep.

Now, you may be wondering how the perfect hermit crab, habitat…the shell…could awaken such painful memories.  Here’s why…

It had been several months since I had moved.  My husband and I had agreed to joint custody.  The week would be divided between us.  We loved our children so much that we agreed to not “bad-mouth” each other in their presence.  Our common goal was to make this transition as easy as possible.  So, even though there was much anger and hurt between us, we chose to support each other for their sake.  Every three to four days they would stay with me, and the other three to four days with their dad.

On this particular day, they were coming to stay with me after a trip to the beach with their dad.  The door burst open and my son came inside with an expression of excitement and a handful of shells.

“Mama, look!  I found these for my hermit crab,” I heard him say.

Now, if you know anything about hermit crabs, you’d know that as they mature they outgrow their shells, so, it’s very important to have bigger shells close by for such an occasion.

I looked at the beautiful shells he held in his little hands, and I wanted to cry.  His hermit crab had died while he was away.  Once again I had to tell him something that was going to hurt, and as I did I watched his face fall from happiness to helplessness.  Witnessing this transformation my heart ached , and I hated myself because I couldn’t protect and shield him from the pain I saw in his eyes.

Seventeen years later, I stood barefoot on the beach, my heart breaking at the sight of the perfect shell.

It will always be there…sitting upon my sleeve…and I deserve it.

***

 

Daily Prompt:  Sleeve 

 

 

 

 

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A Conversation with God 7/26/16

(Many seem to find God elusive, but I talk to Him everyday)

[Me:]  Lord, will there be front porches in heaven?

[God:]  Why would you need a front porch?

[Me:]  Well, it was on a front porch where I first learned to shell butter beans.  I remember sitting with mama, shelling beans from a big old metal dish pan.  I would shell those plump bean pods until my thumb hurt and turned green…literally.

[God:]  So, you would like a front porch in heaven to shell butter beans?

[Me:]  Um…well..to be honest, I guess I never really liked shelling those ole beans, and sometimes it was way too hot; as I grew up in North Carolina and the summers there can be pretty toasty.

[God:]  If you didn’t like the shelling and the heat, why would you ask for a front porch?

[Me:]  Well, when I think back to those days I feel happy…but…I also feel sad…  I guess, that would mean the memories are bittersweet?

[God:]  Tell me what you remember.

[Me:]  Are you sure, God?  I know you are extremely busy and you do have a world to oversee.

[God:]  I’m never too busy for you, my child.

[Me:]  Well…if you’re sure…(God smiles at me)  I remember those summer mornings when my mama came home, after working all night at JP Steven’s Cotton Mill.  It was early, the grass still wet from dew and the sun still low enough for the morning to be cool, she and I would go to the garden and pick whatever was ready for picking.  I still remember the feel of the cool earth cradling my bare feet, its darkness spilling over and between my toes.  We went from row to row picking those ole beans and I thought, at the time, we would never finish.  Afterward, mama found two of her biggest bowls, one always being the dish pan from which we washed our dishes, and she filled them, near to overflowing with the beans we had just picked.  By that time the sun had risen higher and its heat kissed and freckled my skin. (I pause with nostalgia)  Just me and my mama sitting together on the front porch…(A tear escapes my eye)

[God:]  Why do you cry?

[Me:]  I miss my mama.  (tears flow down my cheeks)

[God:]  Dear child, front porches are nice, but it was never the porch that made those times special; instead, it was the time you spent with your mama.

[Me:]  (Now I’m crying…my heart hurting, longing to be on the front porch shelling beans with mama, again.)

[God:]  Oh..my child, I know you miss your mama.   She’s here with me and I’m taking good care of her.   Your mama wants you to know how much she loves you and she too is missing you.  Trust me, my child, one day the divide will be bridged so we can all live together, forever…never again to be separated; and on that day I will wipe away all tears.

[Me:]  Thank you, God.  I love you.

[God:]  I love you too.  And…Lisa…

[Me:]  Yes, Lord…

[God:]  There will be front porches in heaven.

***

Revelation 7:17

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters:  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

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My sister, my mama and me (baby) with Aunt Bessie’s porch in the background.

 

 

Into Oblivion

Daily Prompt:   What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I’ve sat here for a good hour, debating: Should I keep this post light and funny  or should I expose the darkness of what I presume to be my first memory?

Pulling back the curtain not only makes me vulnerable but it also sheds a bad light on other family members; and it’s for this reason I’ve wrestled with whether to write fluff or whether to write truth.

Let me begin with this.  I truly don’t remember most of my childhood.  I sit as a stranger, listening to  family members say, “Remember the time…” and then they continue with a memory that’s utterly foreign to me.  Of course, I go along, and pretend their recollections are mine as well, and I prepare my chuckle for the ending that’s always accompanied with guffaws and side splitting belly rolls.  I sit amidst the laughter and  think “Who the hell are these people and where the hell did I come from?”  Then it hits me…”These are my people and they are telling my stories.”  It never fails, no matter how many times this scenario plays out, I’m always surprised, and I always wonder why they can remember, when I can not.

Well, now that I’m fifty I’ve learned through the years that it’s easier to accept this, condition of mine, as reality and assure myself, that for some reason, my inner child wants these memories to herself, and that she has a damn good reason.

With that said, I will pull back the curtain for a glimpse of my earliest memory.  Don’t blink…you’ll miss it…for it truly is only a “glimpse.”

The house is dark.  A child, of perhaps three, is sitting on a couch, the only piece of furniture in the dark room.  She’s so small her feet barely touch the edge of her seat.  The child hears a loud voice and the voice there in the room with her.  She may be alone with the voice, but something tells her she’s not…maybe her sister is there too…the child is uncertain.  The child hangs her head and silent tears stream a trail over her cheeks, drip from a trembling chin to dampen her shirt.  She sits perfectly still, almost as if she’s overtaken with paralysis.  The voice doesn’t stop, neither does it fade.  The voice always makes her cry.

The girl, the room and the voice dwindle into oblivion.

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