Today Alexander started band camp. Those kids work so hard, giving up a large portion of their summer break. It makes me proud. There was a day, in doubt and fear, that I worried he would not grow up. Today, as I watched him walking away from me, his back so straight, shoulders slightly hunched at teenage boys do, fiery curls over his ears and in soft flame along the nape of his neck, a sweetness drew from my heart and I found myself whispering searing white thanks for gift of him. In this moment he is blissfully unconscious of the danger he faced, not thinking about that, not remembering the pain or the fear. The medications he takes every morning and shots he gives himself every night are far from his mind. He is starting his senior year. There is music to play and grades to achieve, money to be earned and money to spend, a future to contemplate and plans to make. Nobody has time for sickness. Between himself and his late oldest brother, he has never known a world without shots, pills, tests, doctors and hospitals. This is his normal and we give thanks for it; every single bit of it. He is straight and strong and pointed directly forward, his warrior's heart taking absolutely for granted that he is triumphant and will continue to be so. The victor writes the history. In this moment, all is well with my soul. The heart of a boy, the emerging shadow of a man walks away from me on a summer day into a bright and promising beginning. Thank God. Thank God.
I am in the first of four days off today. There is school work and house work to do, a husband who loves me fiercely and a home we cherish together. The world beyond us is a chaotic place over which we have little control and life has taught us that it will seep in and around the barriers we erect to protect this sanctuary we have built, requiring effort in defense of it. It is a good marriage, 13 years of romantic, passionate love on most days and furious, stubborn loyalty when the fickleness of romance frays at the edges. We are the Fellowship of the Ring, Dances with Wolves, Les Miserables....stories which in the writing and the telling spur me to depths of emotion that strike me as sacred. The most compelling stories in my heart are those painted with the human experience, those that aren't neat or tidy or wrapped up in pretty bows at the end, those pure in the telling and untainted by polish, unglazed, not taken by bitterness, sarcasm or scathing, distancing wit. I seek out and savor the stories that do not erase the tragedies and sorrows, but instead give each struggle its due, exposing the vulnerability, the precariousness of the normality on which we base our lives and the blissful assumption so many live beneath that all will continue to be well, with then the ultimate surrender to the sacredness of inner strength when that gossamer veil is torn away. Those are the stories that touch the core of my heart. On days like today, I see that in the story of my life and I am softened and quieted inside.
I love the human spirit. Perhaps that is the root of my calling in being a nurse. It is the one job I can think of in which I see it every single day; not the prettified version of truth, but the awful and bloody, the painful and torn, the iron exposed, the transformational growth. I see it in my sons. My mother. My husband. Myself. I see it in the world all around me. What a wonderful world.