3.10.2015

Putting Your Hand to the Glass

A couple of weeks ago, in a Jack-in-the-box parking lot, I stood back and felt like I was watching a scene as a spectator at an underwater tank at Sea World.  My son, an elegant little Orca dove and tumbled through long minutes of waves awash with thunderous emotion.  Every now and again, particularly in the afternoon, and especially after naps, Remy goes to a place that takes hours to recover from.  He cries and screams, shakes and cannot be calmed.  We were on a road trip, and he had slept and awoken in one of these eerily familiar fits.  I kept my calm, as did Carl.  We know now not to match his emotion with our own.  Instead, even against what my hot emotions prompted me, I held him close and with purpose.  Like one might do when they put their hand to the glass of the whale tank and only sense that you are part of something much larger.   I may never know what it's like to be in the water with those whales, no matter how I crane my neck around, I may never see or understand that dark part of the tank that certainly they must know so well. But, for those moments, when a whale swims past and you think, 'surely, this amounts to something, someday more moments will collide with this one, and then I will have a story worth telling'.

As I held my crying boy in that parking lot, people parked their cars, pushed open the grimy doors to eat their grimy food, then left again, and still he cried and hollered.  At points he stopped long enough to stroke the back of my hair and in those moments I had the distinct sense that he was at the bottom of something and was trying so hard to come up and out of it.  His subtle movements to grab onto me, I later understood to be wild and desperate graspings and pleadings to stay with him until he could pull himself out.  At the time, I knew that I wanted to write about the experience.  It seemed like a bright color in the past months of living, but I hadn't known why I would find occasion to write about it until recently.

We are that boy.  All of us are capable of being that boy.  As a condition of the human state, we are required to hold a basket of sadness and a basket of happiness within us.  Sometimes we reach our hand into the one and feel around and through whatever we find, and sometimes we dip into both baskets, even at the same time.  However, the revelation of happiness and sadness as a human condition did not seem revelatory, but rather, I keep going back to my son's subtle movements in the midst of his total breakdown.  How often are we watching for those movements, those simple requests, in others?

The bottom line is that we are not the only ones to feel lonely, to feel unease, to feel left out.  We are not the only ones working through a tangle of necklaces, pulling painstaking bead apart at a time.  We are not the only ones to have had our entire delicate tower crumble well into our lives.  And we are not the only ones who have to have to pull ourselves out of it.  My son did not need me to talk him through, reason him through, deliver or rescue him from.  All he needed was to reach around and feel my hair long enough to know that someone would be waiting when he came up on the other side.

Loneliness seems an epidemic, at least for so many of the people I've talked to recently.  Maybe we can do better for each other.  Maybe we can stop every so often and picture ourselves like the kid at the whale tank.  The people around us gliding quietly and gracefully to their quiet corners.  Give them the awe they deserve, then go to them.  Put your hand up, a subtle gesture, but deliberate enough so they know you are there.  Picture yourself swimming next to them, a big blue world enveloping you both, feel the sun on your back and remember to celebrate.

After my son finished crying in great heaves and effort on his part, we went as a family into the restaurant and ordered some grimy chicken nuggets and an oreo shake.  We didn't speak of his sadness, though we knew it was possibly still lurking nearby.  We all shared the thick ice cream and it felt like a holy celebration across the speckled plastic table.




4 comments:

Barb said...

This was remarkable and beautiful and familiar.

The Wigginton Family said...

These words were meant for me, dear friend. Love you and love every single word you write. Always.

Brooke said...

Oh Ash. I just love you and your parental widsom. I feel like I'm starting a little file in my brain called "Do What Ashley Does". Love you so

قمم تميز said...

شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
لذلك تقوم شركه كشف تسربات المياه بتقديم خدمه ممتازه فى هذا المجال لتساعدك على توفير فاتوره المياه والمحافظه علي المنزل من تسريب المياه وكذلك
شركة تسليك مجارى بالدمام
عندما تجد صعوبة مع تسرب الماء فى منزلك فاننا افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه او تسليك مجارى تلك التى تسبب لك ارتفاع فى تكلفه فواتير المياه لكن
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نحن افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالخبر لحل فواتير المياه بالدمام ومتخصصين فى بحث وكشف تسربات المياه وحل تسرب المياه ووقف نهائى
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كشف تسربات المياه بينبعواحده من الخدمات المقدمه من شركة كشف تسربات بينبع فهى من اهم واكبر شركات الكشف عن تسريب المياه فى المنطقه العربيه
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بافضل الاجهزة الاكترونية بدون تكسير بافضل العمالة المدربة على اعلى مستوة بالتدريب
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بدون تكسير مع اصلاح تسرب المياه والضمان , شركة قمم التميز للخدمات المنزلية. اتصل بنا
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل