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Thalia, Birth Beads and Plan A

Positively Speaking

Orange construction fencing loosely waved in an effort to remain standing around the parcel of land. A crudely created sign designating an unsafe area inside the fence and warding off potential looky-lous, was stabbed into the earth at one end of the property. The little house in which I had attended so many holidays and family meals, the TV always on despite any event, the altar to Thalia carefully placed on the mantel over the fireplace, was gone. Now, not only was she in heaven, but her parents as well.

This little girl had impacted my life so much. Indeed she had ended my marriage. Dead in a tragic car accident before I ever met her, her effect was weighed at a retreat for pastors and their spouses where I, the pastor, heard her brother, the spouse, yell at me, finally, “Don’t you understand? If I love you, you will die!!” It was a precipice from which the tottering relationship could not but fall. It explained all the abuse, the discounting, the distancing. No amount of my request for change was going to make a difference. But at least I knew why. The years, decades I had spent trying to get her family to talk about their grief together were for naught.

Now as I looked at the nothingness of the history of the family now dispersed and broken, I chose to see the next piece of the story and drive by the place my oldest came home after he was born’. Defying all odds, I had given birth to a healthy 9lb 10oz, 22 ½ inch boy in two hours. Take that! Stupid lawyers who made me hear at age eleven that I would never birth a full term baby. Went on to have another one too. That time, when my body actually got down to it, delivered in forty five minutes.

That house revealed itself to be so poorly cared for it could have been called a ‘tear down’. Flower beds lovingly planted the interior once cheerfully painted and exterior carefully tended, was now replaced with gray everything and decayed clutter and too many broken down cars. Such a waste. What was the point of all of our efforts?

Returning to the small village of my residence, I found, a week later, my battery in need of a jump-start. Needing to keep the car running for 45 minutes after being re-juiced, I took the circuitous route around the perimeter and interior inevitably cruising past places where I had given my best and now there was not only nothing left, but the traces of my presence, my work, my gift to people of time and invested money were erased. Kids Club, gone, the choir, gone, lunch with Clara every Thursday gone, so many people dead and gone, times of mothering gone, gone, gone.

When I first moved to the little village, I took my birth beads, the letters of the alphabet spelling out my surname and four little pink beads designating I was a girl, tied to my wrist at birth by the hospital staff, to a jeweler. He crafted a tender, delicate, beautiful little bracelet I have returned to wearing on my left wrist that utterly depicts my feelings about having been born who I am and claiming that identity.   I look at it, remember the joy I feel in being alive and the journey it took to get to feel some sense of worth and esteem and entitlement to take up space on the planet and contribute to the common good, the higher good and the never before experienced good.

When I open my glasses case that hold the frames with the lenses that are specifically designed for use with the piano and the computer there is a picture of me at my wedding reception. Microphone in hand, it was my destiny and constant occupation to sing before others from the time I was two and sang “I’ll be a Sunbeam for Jesus” at the Women’s Missionary Society meeting of Calvary Baptist Church. That wedding day ,too, I sang of the sun, “You are the Sunshine of my Life”. Everybody thought we were going to be the next Captain and Tennille.

The piano, the computer and me singing are now my new destiny. I am returning to plan A. Were it not for the notes, letters and face to face affirmations of appreciation for past endeavors planting seeds of love in people’s lives, I could drift into a crevasse of self doubt that anything I had done in the past had any value, took any root. But those of us who devote our lives to the passing out of love seeds cannot look at what has fruit as anything other than someone else’s business. Some seed falls on hard ground, some has shallow roots and some bears fruit, so says a great man.

On to plan A....