{Unedited} Houses Fall Down

house1

I was twenty-seven, making my relationship with my husband in its fourteenth year.  The children in my home and care were eleven, nine, eight, six and four.
My step-father, the big sanguine man who raised me, had just been diagnosed with a broken heart.
Unable to work.  Unable to navigate the decisions that illness brought.
My mother, fragile, was struggling to keep her grasp.
Unable to see the choices.  Unable to find a solution.
We opened our arms and my sister, fifteen walked in.
We hoped we could stretch our years to find experience.
I had a brother struggling overseas, and another living on my couch.
We were a third of the way through a remodel.
Down to the studs, trying to hold to the home my parents owned.
Taxes and mortgage and care giving.
I was terrified.
I was exhausted.
I was numb and overly aware.  Finally, after years of getting by. Beginning to see who I needed. What I needed. Where I belonged.
It was a year that broke me.
Into pieces. Into the strongest pieces.
My mother’s father died. Found at his home the day my husband started the job that would shape our future.
I stood in the driveway listening to the officer explain.
I stood in the kitchen listening to my brother explain.
I stood in the backyard and saw the damage with my own eyes even after the best had been done to remove all signs.
My father’s mother joined her husband.
Her heart ready to find its home. The tiny woman who taught me about marriage.  About love.  About being loved by a fierce man.
I stood in the cold and knew I would be okay.
I stood in the gray in clothes that felt awkward.
A brother on one side. My truest friend on the other.
I stood in a small group of people and saw the end of a quiet life.
A life of support. Of choice.
Knowing no one could remove the signs.
Knowing I didn’t want them to.
I stood in a hospital room.
Looking for explanation.
Tiny daughter. Fragile daughter. Daughter fighting.
I stood in the hospital lobby.
Taking a minute.
To wash my face. To drink coffee.
To find a way to pretend I wasn’t afraid. That I might be okay.
I stood in a hospital corridor waiting.
Muscles coiled. Frayed and tight. Feeling the weight of time.  The seconds, and minutes and days of my twenty-seven years.
I stood in an elevator and heard the music begin.
“Mm ba ba de”
“Um bum ba de”
“Um bu bu bum da de”
I stood where it found me and felt the threads begin to unwind.
Slowly. Quickly. Painfully. With relief
I stood listening and felt my everything spin.
I stood still for four minutes.
Sobbing and knowing and broken into the strongest pieces.
I stood still holding words I wasn’t old enough to have.
And I let the world change.
For me. In that moment. An anthem and understanding.
I stood until the music stopped and then I moved.
I moved into the strongest pieces.
I moved into my fear, and anger and grief and pain.
I moved and learned and healed and acted.
I acted on the seeing and the understanding and the knowing.
I acted on belonging.
“Under pressure that brings a building down”
“Splits a family in two”
“Puts people on streets”
“- that’s okay”
“It’s the terror of knowing”
“What the world is about”
The year I was twenty-seven I heard the words of a man I will never meet, who I barely had a perspective of and understood.
Houses fall down.
And it would be okay.

 

 

 

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