When I was growing up, there was a girl I went to school with, who had a habit of punching me on the shoulder and calling me a marshmallow. It was kind of annoying, but …actually, I think marshmallow is a pretty accurate name for me… sometimes. Marshmallows are soft, sugary, sweet and silly. They are sort of sweet nothings, the ultimate in frivolousness, neither nutritious nor essential, just sugar spun into fun!
I suppose we are born into this world with a particular disposition. Mine is, generally, well … marshmallowy. I am soft, too soft, most of the time. I am sensitive to a fault and easily manipulated by tears. I am also sugary. I love sappy things, books, movies, poetry, anything sentimental. I try hard to be sweet, and most of the time and it comes fairly, naturally.
Silly, well … I see that as a life goal! In my pursuit of silliness, I have dressed up in a southern belle get up (an exact reproduction of Scarlet O’Hara’s picnic dress, none the less!) to pick up family from the airport.
Every year, I host a pajama Christmas party full of silly games. I also have, along with my entertaining daughter, hot glued daisy’s onto bathing caps and goggles, and created a synchronized swimming masterpiece, to a song from Rent. Just a few examples, but obviously, silly is a large part of my personality.
Of course, like everyone else, my personality is contradictory and multifaceted. Tonight, I am between marshmallow moments. Tonight, I feel as if I am a jagged rock, heavy, cumbersome and difficult to carry. Tonight, I am not lightness and sweetness. Tonight, I am hard and heavy … I am a stone, as heavy with grief and sadness as a grave marker.
I am writing, hoping some of the deep black, sadness will flow from my heart, thru my bloodstream, into my fingers, then leave my body and float, invisibly, into the air. Once the thoughts and words released, I hope I will feel lighter and able to breathe.
I cannot think of one part of Dennis’ body that is not falling apart. This week he fractured his ankle … a guy who can’t walk broke his ankle! This is so ridiculously unfair. I find myself recoiling inward in pain. We also saw a place on his bottom that has lost its protective fatty layer. The skin on his body is wearing thinner, and thinner becoming almost translucent. Bruised and battered, torn, and cut into so many times, it is losing its ability to regenerate. It is all going, yet … his brain and heart continue to carry on. The vehicle for his soul is breaking down, and my heart is breaking with it.
Last night, right before he fell asleep, Dennis said: “My compass has nowhere to point.” He is finding it difficult to use his passions and gifts, without a working vessel to execute them. He feels like a useless, burden. I am hardly the first person to walk this path with someone. Tonight, however, I feel entirely alone. Alone in the way, even if the house were full of friends, I would be alone. Inside of me, there is no silliness, just solemnity.
Sadness for the eternal cycle of loss and grieving we must all endure on this earth. Sad to see the man I love hurt so deeply, on every level possible. Sorry, my power to make him feel content is weakening. I can see it when he looks at birds flying in the sky, that more and more often, he is longing to escape the prison his body has become, and fly free like the birds. Dennis’ ultimate healing will be my heartbreak, and I fear the pain intensely.
These are the moments between hope and joy where I go to somewhere extremely lonely; that place is … despair. Why … must everything end? Why … must things be so very hard right now? Why … can I not lay down this calling just for one day, and then pick it up again when renewed? Why … is this not happening to someone who deserves it? Why … does it take so much sadness to bring such clarity? Why … does it sometimes seem no one cares?
Tonight is a night for grieving and exorcizing pain. These nights do not come often, but when they do they blanket my world in grey and sadness. I used to fight these times, gloss over them with distracting, lightness and silliness. Time has taught me to pay due reverence to these hard moments of reckoning. They will not be ignored, they may hide, but they will always be found. I attempt to shield Dennis from much of this; his battle is hard enough. Sometimes, however, the mask slips and the tears roll down. Then I feel even worse because my pain hurts him so.
I have never regretted this path I have chosen. It’s quite freeing to know I bear no responsibility for it, all I did was answer the call. This is God’s plan, not mine, and not answering would have been far more full of regret, and self-denial.
So tonight… this sad, lonely heart, is trying to write out the words, weighing so deeply inside me, I can no longer keep silent. These words feel sharp and hard, preventing me from joy, keeping me fearful, lying to me that this is a burden I bear alone. Afraid, angry, desperate, confused, alone, hopeless, resentful, and most of all completely exhausted. May these dark words go out into the universe and when they touch the light of love, manifest themselves into something smaller, something lighter and grander. May they become transformed into stars by which the black night finds hope and light. Something … I can bear the weight of.
Never fear my dear ones, I will be a marshmallow again, just not tonight…