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Monday, April 13, 2015

Last Night

Last night, driving mountain roads to my home in Lompico, which I love so much, I panicked about my book.  Always the question: am I doing the right thing, writing about this woman, the scrutinizing questions I may bump up against if this sees the light of  day: she was beautiful, a white woman, and so many others with similar stories, but who are ignored because of marginalization in this terrible world, go untold.  But she was an immigrant who came here to a country where some of the population maintains cruelty about all immigrants, a courageous woman who did not have so much means that she could raise Anina with child support, like a huge percentage of single parents, an educated and talented woman who worked as a cashier because such jobs are what women in this county, rife with unemployment, often get when they are first here: cashiers, baristas, working in bookstores, caregiving, preschool teaching, cleaning homes.  This is what we do, we who are not women who have endless amounts of money with rich spouses to support us.  I believe she had courage and cared greatly about herself and the baby girl she carried.  To express this courage rightly is one of my challenges

When Asha disappeared, but before she was found, people who did not know her at all cruelly said she was with her husband only to get a green card, that little Anina was an "anchor baby".  One horrible man said that she was a "tattooed Polish whore" just to say it, the stupid evil man.  These statements, when I saw them online, made me sick to my core.  These insane statements I put here because this is also why I write: to show that not all people loved her, though those people did NOT know her, but hid behind their computer screens and passed judgement on her.  This is the hardest to write: the ignorance of people who never knew her at all contrasted with the ones who did, and who loved her best, absolutely.  And yet at times I feel like the ignorant one, like a painter filling in the lines because I did not knew her well. It is ironic that I am compelled to be a writer, yet it is the hardest thing for me so often.

This week I write about when her car was found, and what that meant, and what began to dawn on people, and me, and still we prayed she was out there, alive.  I believed that; I looked for her, an hour or two a day, driving rural roads: I feared she had taken a walk in the forest, as I had done so often when I was pregnant, the midwife had told me when I carried my son that walks were good, they made the baby settle into the right position.  I thought perhaps she had parked her car and gone for that walk; her car was found in a nice neighborhood.  I wondered if she had gotten lost, veered into the woods, God forbid had given birth to a premature baby there. If any of these things had happened, she would have been found, would still be here, among us, with Anina, and with a heck of a story to tell.  When she was missing, I sat on my deck at night and listened into the dark, as I do almost every night now, listening for the scream of cougars, bobcats, and always, the owls.  I hoped I might hear her voice out there when she was lost, and call the police, who would follow that voice to where she was.  None of these things happened.  It is left to me to take a path in the forest, to tell her story, finding clues like bright small stones as I go.

The weight of all these things stood heavily on me, though I concentrated on the road, passing through a landslide area with a ravine on the other side, so much like the place where they found her. I suddenly saw a small gray owl, probably a screech owl, fly into the light cast by my headlights.  It floated across the road and vanished into the forest.  I waited as it flew, grateful for its presence and its grace.  Then homeward to cleaning and working a little, calmed from my fears and centered again.  I think Asha's sign to me are owls, in many forms, a sure and quiet voice from the deep dark and the silence which says, "Don't worry."