Yesterday I spent a little time cleaning out my Momma's garage. As I drove down her street I came to a stop and just watched a spectacle occurring a few houses away. My trip over brought me to that moment in that place just perfectly timed to see a blackbird dive bombing a squirrel over and over again. The squirrel was hopping and chattering, tail fluffed and standing straight up, pausing every so often to hazard a glance at the menace above. The bird was squawking and pecking relentlessly, tufts of hair floating away from the squirrel with each dive. I was cracking up, sitting there in the road...so happy to have arrived just in time for nature's show. Simple. Lovely.
Today I made an unscheduled drive to an area of town I don't usually frequent. It is a very windy day today with sprinkles and I was surprised at how many people are out on foot. I became sad at the realization that I live in a world where helping is dangerous and I can't feel safe offering a ride to someone who obviously needs it. Then I saw him. It was a glance only, a fraction of a moment. He was walking, hood on and head bent against the wind. He was thin and had his arms wrapped around his body. I was approaching a light and had started to slow down. He was facing me. Almost as if he somehow sensed I was looking at him, he lifted his head and met my eyes with his directly...but not. His eyes were on me but you could tell he was seeing something else, something no one else could see, something his mind had placed between him and me. He moved his lips, speaking to the thing that wasn't there and after the briefest of time allowed for a response, he opened his mouth widely and smiled a huge toothless grin, laughing from his belly with a smile that went all the way to his eyes. He was happy. He had a funny friend traveling with him...no matter that I couldn't see it. He didn't need his teeth or a ride from me. He was just fine. We might want to disagree. We might think that it takes success in our careers, having a nice home, having stable mental health and a ride on a windy, rainy day...but who's to say that those things bring us even a fraction of the joy reflected on this man's face?
This weekend, by mistake, I found the vodka bottles...crushed and flattened, so many of them inside of a dog food bag. There was a flash of anger so strong that I'm sure it burned a trail right to my heart...because it broke...shattered right into a million pieces. There had been a promise and here was the evidence that the promise had expired if it had truly ever been honored. There is a serious health risk and here was the truth of how powerful the demons can be. There is a history that somehow I convinced myself could be healed by abstinence now...almost like penance. Fact is, I don't believe in penance but I did believe in her. Now I wonder, where does this leave us? How do you balance caring so greatly for someone with knowing that they deserve unconditional acceptance as they are rather than how we'd have them? What do you do when you know that the help that was offered wasn't really wanted? How do you continue to honor someone when you disagree passionately with their choices? I'm here, in this moment, knowing there is a limit to what I can do to help and knowing that although her choices today have the potential to affect my future, I can't require another person do do what I think is "right." Sometimes awareness sucks ass. Sometimes talking to the little girl Tara who feels each new perceived slight with the same crushing pain of a thousand slights before is the hardest thing to find the words for. Today the words aren't coming...today I'm transported to the past where we've just left the liquor store after loading the trunk full and I hear an apology that the fondest desire of my heart won't be possible because there simply wasn't enough money for it. Today I am crying for that little girl...sitting with her and reminding her that she's safe and it's going to be okay. It really is, right?