Fred Phelps is in his end days, preparing to be taken into the arms of angels while people here are clapping and booing him off the stage and I feel the sadness of it all. Who forgot to hug him when he had a bad day in school? Who bullied Fred when he was so small? As I lay my head on the pillow, I pray his soul to keep and thank the lucky stars I have smaller problems, while drifting off to sleep.
Unexpectedly, Aunt Irene is here for a night time visit, interrupting the casting crew and pulling me off the set because there is a spot on my face. They're annoyed and it's only a dream but it costs money to get the photographers and music in alignment on a Saturday night and she's pulling my arms and asking me to go bar hopping in her fast white car. Stubborn woman, I'm dragged inside and walls are black, the people have no color, shadows draped in smoke lead our way. Bits of confetti float in the air, mostly reds and yellows. Why are we here? My son, we need to find my son! Shall I apologize to the television crew and their photographers first?
The images are lucid as hard rain on glass, disappearing with every swipe of a windshield wiper and fear is thick but there is no fog. Aunt Irene has left, leaving me alone with the thing. The thing that exists and is now an enemy. It's coming to hurt me and I swear if it jumps like that jack in the box at the thrift store today, I will kill it!
"No," the angel comforts. "You are to love this enemy or else it will kill you," she says and pulls the shades so Sunday morning light can penetrate my bedroom.
Whew, that's the last time I'll pray for Fred Phelps before bedtime and a phone text tells me to call my son because he may be in physical trouble. The thing has found a way out of the dream and into my house.The drumming in my heart is getting louder and louder and I feel my tribal roots grow with every beat. I wish I could call Aunt Irene, but she's been dead for years.
Two days pass before I hear my son's voice but I've been told he's fine. My calls go unanswered but I know the thing has me in its grip and I slow my breath and try to remain neutral.
"Mom? I'm coming over," he decides after his space of solitude. "I'm sore and my face is bad."
His eye is swollen and he walks like our old cat. "What happened to you!" I ask and the story unfolds.
He had smiled and opened the door for the wrong woman who took a punch at his face, knocking him to the floor and then kicked him in the face with her boots. While trying to stand, she kicked him in the stomach, breaking his glasses. It was a random act of violence and the people who saw the moment when he was standing thought he had provoked it. One man furthered the insult by pushing him to the wall. In one small moment, many could have stepped forward but chose to walk away, diverting their eyes, leaving him feeling like a stain on the carpet.
Every mother knows the pain of a bullied child and every cop knows the rage of vengeful mother. The thing I so feared had now entered my body, never mind that it may be karma balancing a past life action, he was my son and nobody would hurt him for no reason. An intense anger filled my body and I thought of ways to find this person. It took two days to rid myself of these thoughts, leaving me with the same kind of poison the woman must have felt when she hit my son. How did I become like her? The thing was snug inside of me and the only way out was for me to project a love ball of light into her from me. The energy slowly shifted and I began to cry. Who had forgotten to notice her when she was small? Where were her words that told stories of her dreams and why she is important? Slowly, there was release, my joints felt flexible and my breath became deeper with every inhalation.
Aunt Irene was right, I had a dirty spot on my face. The only way we will ever be able to truly take our bow on the stage in front of cameras and lights will be to love our enemies with understanding and compassion. As long as we fear or hate the Fred Phelps and other bullies in the world, we are the same. As the angel in the dream said, "learn to love the enemy or it will kill us."
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I knew she was mad when I called because her coldness hit me in the stomach only this time I wasn't going on another one of her guilt trips. Yes, it had been over a week since I had called but their phone was out of order and it slipped my mind to mention that fact. Life's been busy, I'm a grandma now, the freelance business I've dreamed of is taking off and my husband is turning into an old man faster than expected. She didn't hear me, I sensed daydreaming on the other end of the phone. Of all the women I have known in my life, she is the only one who can slice my heart in half with her lack of words and then piece it together with a homemade pie and a great story, often ending with, if you love Jesus, you'll call your old mother once in awhile. No, I'm not going on another guilt trip! This time she didn't say it, instead I heard her say, I love you.
"I love you too, mom." We come in all shapes and sizes with different perspectives, feeling tossed together like a jigsaw puzzle, and I just wanted my piece to fit snugly next to her piece without feeling lost in a box where all the pieces are black, the hardest kinds of puzzles to finish! The phone call lasted thirty minutes and left us both equally frustrated for words not spoken but cordial out of respect for each other.
Hanging up, the kitchen light reflected on the portrait my oldest son had drawn and colored for me when he was in first grade. My smile was huge and he colored me with green eyes, greener than my real ones. He had drawn a baby in my arms, him as a newborn. How I've treasured this picture for so many years that gives me such joy. Still feeling flattened, the phone rang again but this time it was my son, the artist of the picture I was viewing! He was on his way over to see me after working a long ten hours on the dock at his job. No wonder he drew a big smile on that face, he knows how much I love him!
Thirty minutes later, enough time to gloat and feel pumped up again, he arrived looking somewhat flattened himself. Red eyed and in need of a shower, I offered him cooked scrabbled eggs, broccoli and couscous without the coffee since our breakfast would be his dinner hour.
"Mom, you don't have to feed me," he said. "I'm here to get my invitation. Man, why don't people remember my address?" he moaned and I knew he had been awake far too long.
"It's not personal, sometimes it's easier to send all the invitations to one house," I counseled.
"Well, it makes me feel like a little kid," he added. "Oh! My picture! That's funny, you still have it, I like the frame, yeah, I will have some of that food." Thank God the conversation had changed to something less stressful.
"I remember how hard I worked on that in school, it took a long time and I was so proud." he remembered. "I wanted to get your happy face and accidentally made the teeth bigger than your real ones."
"It's perfect, I will always love it the way it is, " I sighed.
"NO! That's not what you said mom. I was so proud of it and you laughed and told me I made you look fat and ugly," he said. "I thought I was a terrible artist or you would have liked it."
"I'm sorry, is that why you stopped drawing? I dream about you all the time and you're painting pictures of Indians, everyone loves them, I feel sick, I'm so sorry!" I cried.
"It's ok mom, I'm over it, I need to go home and get to sleep. Thanks for finding a nice frame for it."
"Promise me you'll get back to sketching again," I moaned. "Your sister dreams about your paintings too."
"Yeya! I had one last night, they're huge canvases and I'm jealous because I want some of those, "she yelled from upstairs.
"Heh, maybe I'll start drawing again for fun and be in galleries," he laughed while we hugged and walked to the door.
Paul, my first born child, great teacher to his mother, helping to solve life's riddles for thirty six years together looked ten feet tall in that moment with the bluest eyes and huge white teeth, and that's how I would have drawn him. Suddenly, his short visit had warped time. My deadlines didn't exist, there was no competition and plenty of time to phone my mom again. She didn't come to the phone, she was in the shower but it's ok, I'll call again tomorrow. For now I'll be grateful for unsaid words and a more colorful puzzle picture. Heh, looks like another artist got added to the box!