Chris Johnson says "Missouri loves company," and company has arrived. After a CRAZY weekend and a resulting illness, a friend (affectionately titled "the wee one") drove me to a town just north of dallas last night. I slept there in his parent's guest bedroom and awaking rested and excited, I headed for St. Jo Mo.
But I wasn't entirely sure I would make it.
Some of you who know me well may remember a little episode with my car in September of 2002. In an attempt to make it "all the way," i.e. a one day drive from St. Jo, Mo to Waco, TX, I awoke early, felt totally un-rested and as a result, fell asleep at the wheel in Marietta Oklahoma and wrecked Blackbell, my cute little toyota carolla. I remember promising Jeremy on the phone that I would be careful and not fall asleep, I remember my eyes groggy and heavy, and I remember thinking "I need to stop and get coffee..." and the rest is, well history. And a good story, but one for another time. Consequently, I haven't driven more than eight hours in one block since that year. But as I was saying, I felt good this morning and hit the road with high spirits.
The spirits faded, I admit, but my energy didn't. I missed Radley snuggling in my lap and I cried. I wondered whether my ex-boyfriend would propose to his new girlfriend this Christmas and I cried. I marveled not at the unpredicatibility of the world (whose cruelty is ceasing to startle me) but rather at my own unpredictibility and cried again.
Truth be told, I have very little control of my emotions right now.
But maybe that's a story for another time too.
Once at home, I realized that though we've put up another tree (number 4), and have now added decoration to the three daughters bedrooms, not much has changed. And everything has changed. Someone always cries (usually low-self-esteem-Ann, or I-can't-get-registered-for-classes-Emily, or that-movie-was-sad-Amy). I'd already had my cry for the day though and was passed the phone with Amy called. Amy has experienced change.
And Amy cries a lot. But not because anyone died, rather because tonight a child is born. Tamara birthed Quintin at 7pm. Doyle, Amy's soon to be former father-in-law called with the news. Where to one the child brings joy to another he brings pain.
I suppose the same could be said of Christ.
For me the Christ-child brings hope: imagine a God who would call both kings and shepherds to his birth. Roger preached a great sermon Sunday, calling the shepherds the "smarmy used car salesmen" of 2000 years ago. I'd never thought of them as such. Usually they fill the sweet little poor, stinky people role, not the untrustworthy, manipulative gypsy role. But God calls both. Does God really love everyone? Even the really shitty, manipulative, selfish fools?
And here, Christ brings pain too: the confrontation of my nihlism by my faith, my agony by a child, another human-yet-God who felt damaged and beaten as I do now.
Where the hell did all this pain come from?
I went to see Harry Potter, but when Cedrick died, something in my head clicked and I thought of Kyle, and in tears, my brain shut down and in self-defense, blacked out the remainder of the movie. I went to Petsmart as I entered, I smiled at the baby kittens displayed before me, until I reach the last cage filled with a fat tabby, colored just like my precious Radley. I burst into tears and hurried to the kitty litter section. Just when you think enough time has past, something triggers a memory and all is lost.
And so, misery loves company, but company I will not give.
"Watch a movie you haven't seen yet Amy, you have to create new memories."
"We'll go see the baby this weekend, you and me."
"Tell me about the Christmas cookies you made with Watts and Brooke."
That pepped her up. If pain isn't a testimony for community, I don't know what is. The key to surviving it is asking for help.
So help me.
Mom, dad, Amy, Emily, Grandma, Grandpa, I am fragile right now. I can't control myself like I usually can. My body and brain react to visions, sights, sayings I could never know to avoid. Help me get through the grief that is neverending.
And you are hurting too. There will only be five for Christmas this year. The first in five years. Odd. Wrong. But real. So I will help you too and together we will make it through this difficult yet beautiful season.
Missouri loves company.