Acceptance

Acceptance is a good word. For starters, it has two kind of “c” sounds, a delicious “p” and a lovely ticking “t.” It’s a fun word to say. I accept the fact that not everyone agrees with me about the deliciousness of words – for which I must, again, thank Fry, S. J. – and so I’ll elaborate beyond the mere clicks of tongue and lips together. “Acceptance” is a good word because it has good¬†connotations. It sounds positive in every respect:

We talk about accepting someone for who they are – accepting their faults or quirks, their weaknesses and passions. We talk about feeling acceptance from others – becoming comfortable with people, being who we feel we really are with them, shucking off the shells we build around ourselves to guard our hearts from strangers. Children are taught to accept others who are different than themselves, to ignore skin-color and race, cultural barriers or freckles.

“Acceptance” also brings to my mind the feeling of my stomach leaping upwards in a sweet rush when I find out that I’ve passed a test to get into a program, or gotten a big envelope from a college. It means being good enough, proving myself both to others and to the inner-critic.

But “acceptance” can also be a horribly sad word. When someone dies, we need to learn to accept their passing – not necessarily for anyone, but merely because there’s no choice. Life can’t go on unless we accept the death of a loved one. Even if we fight it, life has a knack of getting in the way and forcing us into realizing that we’ve accepted the horrible truth that someone we love will never hug us again, never smile at us, never blink or speak or cry. It’s natural, though, to accept this. If we wouldn’t, we’d go mad with grief at every death, every breakup, every parting.

And yet, there’s a part of me that rages at the acceptance, that feels as if it’s an insult to myself and my emotions. A part of me wants to scream out from the rooftops and subject the neighborhood to the keening sounds I hear only in my mind. A part of me wishes to give up entirely, to lie in bed and never rise from it. But that part is stuffed down, hushed up, quieted, because life goes on whether I want it to or not.

Week

 

Will you be weak first,

Or shall I?

It’s been a week, the first,

And I’m sorely tempted.

But maybe the weakness

Is in my mind and heart only.

Mother says it isn’t so,

And others say it too,

But my aching sore,

My blistering insides

Where someone came

And took something away-

That hole tells me it is.

 

Will you be weak first,

Or shall I?

A weak week it was,

Laughter stolen,

Soul broken,

Eyes bright in the glass.

But worry not, for weakness fades,

And strength gathers anew.

A week from now,

Where will you be?

Shall I be there too?

 

 

It All Comes Down To…

Nothing.

Sometimes, it all comes down to absolute nothingness. There is no reason to actions, no reason for behavior, no reason for thoughts. Sometimes, it all comes down to nothing, at all, whatsoever.

Despair sets in as the weeks go by. Despair coupled with longing and yearning for something else, something different, something old and familiar rather than new.

Not all the time. No, some moments are full of their own fierce emotion, their own wonderful, eventful, meaningful something. Those are the moments for which all is worthy, all is important, all is enduring and good. Those are the moments when things make sense, passions burning brightly, thoughts whirling in an endless stream of new ideas, new names and faces, new imagined scenery.

But sometimes, when the limbs are suffused with a weariness beyond measure, when the thoughts are sluggish and illogical, when the very tips of the fingers don’t wish to respond to a thing in the world… then, it all comes down to nothing, and the vast void that fills the future is frightening.

Ella’s Grandma [A Short Story]

Roberta Marshall put her head down on her desk and wept. The tears flowed freely from her heavily made-up eyes and created black streaks on her cheeks. She wasn’t thinking about her make-up, though, and nor was she wondering how to conceal her reddened eyes. In fact, Roberta Marshall wasn’t thinking about anything very practical.

After a few more sobs, a rational thought did spring into her mind. She thought to herself I’m being unreasonable.

A few minutes later, she went further.¬† I’m being stupid.

The tears didn’t stop flowing, though. She felt a grief that went deep in her, piercing some of her most precious memories. She felt as if her whole childhood was about to disappear.

Eventually, the torrent flowing from Roberta’s eyes came to a halt, and she lifted her head up from her arms. She looked around her big office and was glad to see that the door was closed. Shakily, Roberta reached for her telephone, dialed a number and waited.

“Hello?” a soft voice answered.

“Mom?”

“Roberta?” the voice became incredulous. “Are you crying, Honey?”

“Not anymore, but I was.” Roberta’s voice, still thick from her recent crying jag, replied. She spoke again, a plea in her voice. “Mom, do you have to sell the house?”

Silence, almost a physical silence, came through from the other end of the line. Roberta could feel it weighing upon her. After what seemed like an eternity, Roberta’s mother heaved a sigh.

“Oh, Honey,” she breathed. “Yes, we have to sell the house. It’s not practical for us to live there these days. Your father really has a difficult time on the stairs and it’s simply not worth it to rent out the place.”

Roberta already knew all this, of course, and she felt guilty forcing her mother to go into the painful subject again. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She remembered thundering up and down those stairs with her brother. She remembered breakfasts in the big kitchen and birthday parties in the backyard and, later, arguments about curfew in the cozy den. Now it would all be gone. The tears threatened to overwhelm Roberta again, but she swallowed the lump in her throat and spoke into the phone again.

“Sorry, Mom. I don’t mean to make this harder on you,” and after a moment’s pause, she began again with a cheerier voice. “And anyway, you and Dad will be closer to Devin and me now, and you’ll get to see Ella more often.”

“Exactly, Honey. This can be a good thing,” her mother answered bravely.

“Ella will be happy to see her grandma more often, that’s for sure,” smiled Roberta as she spoke. After a few more minutes of falsely cheery talk about Ella’s toys and diapers, Roberta hung up the phone.

The tears began streaming out of Roberta’s eyes even as she collected herself and began to work again. She would cry on and off for days, but eventually, she learned how to cherish the memories of the big house and reconcile herself to the reality of losing it. At least, she always comforted herself, Ella’s happy that her grandma can babysit her sometimes.