Change

There is a new order in our house this week with the oldest gone. Camp drop off was fine, it was good. My friends keep calling to check on me but honestly, Coco was in for such adventure I cannot be bothered thinking about how much I miss her. Roy seems  the most aware and  has relocated to sleeping on her bed; maybe he just likes the extra leg room under the air conditioning vent, but dogs seem to be wise beyond human knowledge. The first two days Cheyney woke up asking where Coco is but now she seems content picking fights with Anna and having a quicker turn in the song and television rotation cycle. Anna is perhaps the most affected, reluctantly stepping into the oldest role without being so bossy as a first born.

Last night we had a friend spend the night; evening rituals seem too easy without three in the mix. Mimi is the middle of 3 girls also and does not have a shy bone in her body. She is easy going and imaginative and she and Anna played for eleven hours without one fight. They slept in a single bed, at opposite ends, feet touching in the middle. I think only middle sisters would be comfortable with such little space. As they were fading off to sleep, Mimi began to cry. She missed her Mom. She wanted to go home. I quietly stroked her hair and whispered it was alright as she drifted off to sleep in 30 seconds. We mothers do that a lot, play substitute or step up to the pate for one another. As Mrs. Clinton said all those years ago, “it takes a village”. Last night I realized the village isn’t just for us mothers who need a helping hand. It is also for the receivers of the care. As I knelt next to Mimi and Anna in their very crowded, stuffed animal-laden bed, I thought of all those who are not comforted by their mothers that night. And for the mothers unable to comfort their children.

My first high school classmate died this morning. She had slipped in the shower and hit her head ten days ago. She turned 40 and had her 10th anniversary in a coma, lying in a hospital bed. Andi was a friend of mine with whom I share a million funny, and probably inappropriate, memories. She loved diet coke and was a voracious reader of romance novels. She was a peace maker and wanted everyone to be happy and enjoy the party. There were 42 girls in my class and we lived by the motto work hard/ play hard. We got good enough grades to keep parents and teachers out of our hair. But we did some pretty crazy things that involved beer and rooftops and other frightening things with major consequences. It seems weird to live through bad adolescent decisions -relatively unscathed- and then have it come to an end getting out of the shower.

It is hard to grasp the finality here. I guess I am that age. When marriages fall apart or parents get sick or accidents happen. It appears to be the final stages of growing up, the unexplainable and unavoidable concept that time marches on, all too quickly. I don’t like it.  And I am not finding much comfort with God these days. We seem to be having communication issues. Mostly my fault. I am willing to accept the blame but not ready to do anything to change it right now. Hopefully this is a calm before the storm, when my conversations with God come back like a gale force wind, sudden and strong, and unstoppable.  I am comforted by these words from the Book of Common Prayer. It is from Compline, a nightly service, meant to  be performed by lay people. It seems to bring peace and closure to the day and ask for safety throughout the night. I always imagine doing this by candlelight, in a white cotton nightgown, in a log cabin in the woods. Maybe that is just my image of peace. I can also imagine it in the sterile hallways of an ICU. With monitors beeping and loved ones praying, and doctors and nurses working away. I hope someone whispered it last night to Andi or her husband Tony or her sister Sasha or her parents or her Aunt Studey.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or  weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who  sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.  Amen.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ben on June 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for your honesty, and intensity in writing. As someone who has lost friends from both high school and college, and is not yet thirty, this story felt very true. As one who is not yet blessed with children, I look forward to the day when I can say with them (and their friends) the Antiphon from Compline (my favorite service) , “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.”

    Reply

  2. Posted by eleanor angle on June 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Just beautiful, Melanie. I was so sorry to hear of Andi’s passing. I had been praying for her & all the family. Sasha is a good friend. I’m sorry for your loss and hope you’re comforted by memory as well as that wonderful Compline collect. Blessings, Eleanor

    Reply

  3. Posted by Anita Lisk on June 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Beautiful words, Melanie. Thank you. In reading them, I’m struck by the smallness of our world. We’ve been praying for Andi at St. James’s, as her sister, Sasha, is a parishioner here, and I had no idea of your connection to her family.

    Reply

  4. Melanie, wonderful —
    You capture the depth of the everyday so naturally.
    I have been a little shocked by mortality too, lately, being “that age” when classmates pass away unexpectedly and friends’ marriages fall apart. Strange. I still feel like I’m 28 most days. I’m surprised to have hit the probable halfway point, or so….

    Reply

  5. Posted by Margaret Pettyjohn on June 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    oh melanie. beautiful entry today. I am so sorry for your loss. ox

    Reply

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