Thursday, April 21, 2011

Perspectives in Sparkly Blue

“these wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just some things that time cannot erase”
My Immortal, Evanescence


The last year or so have been pretty challenging here, and not necessarily in the obvious ways we very publically share. Without turning this into a moment of Oprah (unless someone wants to give me my own Zeppelin? No? darn. ) , recent days and weeks and months have not been the most woohoo at the Casa Camiolo. That is what it is. But in this week, which is the holiest of our church year, the pain that I can’t seem to shake has been particularly intense. And for whatever reason, the Yeatsian season of our life is wearing at me … things fall apart/the centre cannot hold …

So it’s been a bad week. Cue the old American Idol Go Home song and I’d have myself an afterschool special . Yes, I am THAT old. ; )

I have been trying to deep clean the layers of stuff that mark, like an archaeological strata, the seasons of my life. We have sorted out the last bit of extra hats from when one of my children needed hats to cover her scarred and patchy head—some will go to other hospital kids, some that were more worn will go to charity. I got rid of Lyrics of the Middle Ages. Love the Middle Ages, hated that class, really hated that poetry. Heck, I even threw out the old instant oatmeal that I could not remember buying…the date on the one box was Jersey Board of Health worthy, Yikes! (I swear, the kids USED to like oatmeal!). We’ve purged some of the Kid On Chemo! Stuffed animal collection, sand-decorated candle holders from a long ago Good Mom craft project, and bags of clothing that just needed to go.

In a particularly difficult moment yesterday I tackled the drawer on my little nightstand. Loose change, several safety pins, a thimble (?? No clue where THAT came from), 42 holy cards (I have religious object guilt, I can NEVER throw away a holy card or a funeral card), a random inspirational book, and a pair of nail scissors managed to all live peacefully together in there. I also found a paper on which I had printed out one of my favorite depressing poems.

Yes, I have favorite depressing poems. Sometimes poems just say things more effectively and less offensively (oops), and when I am having a moment of despair and isolation, Gerard Manley Hopkins is my main man. His poetry of faith and despair and hope and hey nature is cool have gotten me through many a tough time (particularly during the Kid on Chemo season).

So there was this paper, printed out

I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say 5
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me; 10
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

Yes, it’s a perky piece. I can relate to insomnia and the “Is anybody OUT THERE?” vibe.

But there, at the top, just touching the top line of the poem, one of my children had stuck a sparkly blue smiley face sticker.

I know the poem well (it’s been living in that drawer for 6 years!)…but the smiley face sticker was a new moment. I found that festive little smile, left by my loving child, to be such a contrast of hope to the words of that poem, the words of my heart.

I refolded the paper, and put it back in the now marginally more organized drawer.

The day was still pretty rotten with patches of yikes, I won’t lie. But in the back of my mind, I can still see that little smiley, and I can imagine my little bud putting it there and tucking it back into my drawer…and really, at the end of the day, isn’t that the perspective of Holy Week? Piles of uber-yikes, of feeling utterly alone and lost and lamenting…and there, over the horizon, there is joy, just the smallest hint of joy, stuck there by somebody who loves us.

Have a blessed Easter, all


  1. Kristin,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is such an amazing reminder for those who suffer with the chronic challenges of life. Where you turn to poetry, I have turned to music. I figure if it took care of David's manic depressive heart, it can probably work for me. I feel that the heart does better when it has it time to grieve what could have been, what should have been and what is not. If it can't, it turns to anger and rage. I believe it was General Patton who said "The only thing that scares me is a man who cannot cry. It means that he is devoid of emotion and salvation".

    I realize that you suffer silently and mightily. You are an amazing role model of how a warrior mother loves her children, cares for them is and is their greatest advocate.

    Please know that we do pray for you and are always willing to lend a hand in any way. Just say the word.

    Happy Easter! That image of the little smiley face will stay with me for a long time.

  2. Poets give our hearts words.
    I recently read a quote from Augustine... " God had one son without sin, but never one without suffering." That blue sticker- the sign of hope- reminds me today that there is Resurrection on the other side of the cross... Of all our crosses.
    And just sometimes, we find mercy in respite from the big darkness, and we have that blessed opportunity for compassion and hope.
    Love to you and a truly ascendant Easter.