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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wealth

It's sad to witness division in a family you knew and loved, some of whom still love you. It is sad when the eldest of a family instigated that division for the sake of money. Now he can slap a check down any time he likes and travel to Europe, this guy who, when I thought I was pregnant with his baby, told me that he had just gotten to the point in life where he could buy nice things for himself and a child would change all that, implying I should get an abortion for the sake of his wallet. Of course. I wasn't pregnant then. I never told him when I did get pregnant by him and miscarried, alone. Perhaps it was wrong to deny him the few weeks of knowing he was, for the briefest time, a father. Perhaps I wanted that baby to myself, fearing a negative reaction.  He will never know that I carried his child.  If he knew, he likely would only be happy the pregnancy didn't take. I want to forget being treated like that, but it is a thorn.  Hopefully one day I will dig it out of my heart.

He has money and lots of time to do what he pleases, and perhaps he is far happier in his life now without me.  Money compensates for a lot of things, or so it seems.  I am sure he would not trade any of his life now for the good things we shared for so many years.  When he dies one day, his money and possessions will be scattered to the four winds, just like mine. I wonder sometimes what he will have to show for his existence on this planet. I wonder that about myself as well.

The root of my anger is not his attitude towards money, or really his freedom to do as he wishes, etc.--it something else, a shadow seed.  I ask into the forest at night, silently: How can this be? How can a person be like this? I do not understand it.  How did I not know this, and yet knew it somehow, for years? I dreamed over and over that we lived in a beautiful multi-level house, but he would always tell me in the dream there was a fourth story we could not enter, ever, that something scary lived up there. That secret was like having a cobra hidden beneath our bed, one he knew was there, but I did not. When the cobra slithered out and attacked, I had no way to defend myself.

 His secret is not mine to tell.  Many couples have a fatal secret between them: that is all I can say. When I think of him, it is there, like a drop of red falling into a glass of clearest water.  There is the absolute dissonance between the person I loved and thought I knew, and the person who emerged when the mirror of our life shattered.  Sometimes I see such silly things, in memory: making tomato-ginger soup at his stove in the Tall House, cooking beautiful heirloom tomatoes in a big pot, so many colors and flavors, m. approaching the soup pot with a GIANT handful of grated ginger, with his sweet, goofy smile, as if offering me a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers.  It was a simple life. Would he trade his life now for one more minute of the happiness we shared, which was far more abundant than the sad times?  Will he, at the end of his life, remember those things, the small everyday things he ultimately thought were worthless, and yet in truth are priceless?  These are questions with no answers: I speak them into  the night and the wind takes then away. 

As cruel as this is, and yes, it is cruel, I realize I am wealthier than him, when all is said and done.  I took Thistle to the beach for the first time today; at first she screamed in terror, never having seen a wave since she was a tiny baby.  She ran away from the water and then came back; I encouraged her to dip her toes in at the place where the wave leaves white foam.  Eventually she was screaming with laughter, clinging to me (at my insistence) as the low waves broke and the water came in.  She threw seaweed and sand  into the water, and watched seaweed lift into the transparent curl of a wave.

Between wave sets, I whispered to her about the otters out in the kelp beds, and dolphins, and deeper still, far out beyond the waves, whales singing to each other, telling their ancient stories.  She walked back to the car with me, tired and yet wound up, her clothes wet with salt water, asking a million questions about the ocean, the waves, and when we would go back to the beach.  Soon, I told her.  Tomorrow she will go to swim lessons and her dance lesson.  I will sit and watch all these, the kids jumping into the pool, the little girls twirling and running with colorful scarves.  I realize how lucky I am to have these things.

There are people who build their lives around concealing a secret who can do no more than that: everything they do is enslaved to the secret.  I am sorry for the way he has to be in this life, for the frightened cleverness he has to employ to keep one step ahead.  Who knows the real story?  Who has glimpsed the cobra in the shadows?  And why was he created so, to shoulder such a burden?  I will not know these things.  What he does in this life is surely built around a core of terrible emptiness, an emptiness no human being could ever want.  This I knew, when I knew him.

When all is said and done, this is my wealth, far beyond what I can pull out of my wallet or build up in my bank account. It is the incomparable wealth of holding a child in the tide as she laughs, braving every crash of the waves with her, and putting her to bed that night with the scent of salt water still in her hair.