I spend an hour listening to a mother whose life is falling apart. She can’t see the way ahead. I can’t fix it for her. I keep on listening, holding her hand while she sobs. She thanks me, and leaves, back to her broken life. We care for her child. She needs someone to care for her. Listening is all I can do. Listening is not enough.
A few short words from a friend make me smile, lift my day, immeasurably, but I can’t find the words of a reply. I text back a single letter, hoping for some wordless comprehension. There are so many things I want to say, reaching out to the people who matter, but I am drained. Too drained to read, to knit, to speak.
The sun is pouring into my house, but I go out, to the garden and lie flattened, crushed by the weight of memories into the damp ground. I can feel gravity pull, hear birds nesting, smell the sap rising. The sun burns red through my eyelids. There’s no border between me and the world. Tears overflow, and as my ears fill with saltwater, I hear the seals sing again. I’ve shed a skin, lost a protective layer. Life is raw, painful, and unbearably beautiful. The world hums.