Monday, May 23, 2011

slamming doors


“Please let me in, Thomas Harry.” The door opens three inches before the boy slams it again, and I hear her voice break. “I just want to be with my family. Please.”

I’m on the toilet in this scene. The boy pushed his way in the bathroom and is sitting in such a way that he can slam the door and peek out of it when it is cracked open three inches.  He has recently discovered the simple pleasure of slamming doors—fridge doors, bathroom doors, shirt drawers, kitchen cabinets—he is an equal opportunity hooligan. He just likes to bang. Slam. Smash. Wrestle. The girl is gentle in her way. “We don’t slam doors, Thomas Harry.” 


“Thomas Harry, please let me see Mama.” He peeks out at her and smiles, then slams the door. She is being pushed beyond her limit of patient, so she tattles. A lot. There is a particular aching to her pleadings that I recognize:

Please I just want to be with my family.

Recently, it occurred to me that I hadn’t called Thomas Harry Thor in a while. When he was first born, he wore his birth certificate name like it was a 42 Long man’s suit. Too bulky, long and cumbersome for his little body. He was still Thor for many many months, and I frequently toiled about our name decision. Sam would muse, “We can change it, if you’d like.” And I would think, “Well, that is just impossible.”  It seemed impossible. Or rather, impossibly fussy. I didn’t think he was going to stay when he was in my belly, and so names, well, names seemed secondary, so I picked something easy, familiar, comfortable, because that is what I wanted everything to be--easy, familiar and comfortable. But then he did stay. And it fits him, this long man name. 

He is still here.  He walks across the floor like a mini-drunken orangutan, arms above his head, giggling. He just stood and walked one day, smiling the whole way. He figured it out. I watch in amazement of how much I cannot control about their babyhood. I stood him for weeks, trying to hold his arms to walk with me, and he always slumped against my legs to crawl away. He just wanted nothing to do with being a bipedal. And so, I thought, eh, I don't care if he walks, really. He gets around. He is happy. I'm not pushing this. And then one day, his legs in kung fu horse position, he balanced himself up and walked to the truck he left across the room.

I don’t know how to write this without sounding melodramatic: Sometimes life just hurts. It is just suffering, an ache deep in your soul that can't be touched by a bath or a cup of herbal tea. I don't mean the kind of suffering that Lucy's death brought. That was acute, exacting, justifiable, and excruciating. I am just talking about the every day existence suffering. It hurts to be self-conscious. It hurts to not be included. It hurts to try to be included and fail. It hurts to be human.

I feel so fucking human these days.

It’s not that anything is terribly bad right now, truthfully. I feel like a deep soul happy with my kids and my husband. We are more peaceful and comforted than we have been in a long time. But when I leave the confines of my house, I feel unsettled by the uncertainty of other people. I guess I am just learning the same lessons over and over again. I have no control. None. I don't even have the illusion of control. I can't control who likes me. I can't control who doesn't like me. I can't control other people doing the right thing. I can't control who sends me anonymous packages and letters, even if they are great. I can't control who reads my blog and doesn't tell me. I can't control when someone gets exasperated behind me in traffic because I drive like an old lady. I can't control people's thoughtless comments. I can't control, well, anything but my behavior. I should feel liberated by that realization, but it feels groundless and unsettling.Vulnerable and exposing.

Thomas Harry woke in the middle of the night with a 103 temperature. Or rather, I woke him because he was moaning in his sleep and extremely hot to the touch. I walked downstairs to the large bathroom and I could still feel the heat of him on my hand. We gave him medicine and put him in a cool bath, and he thought it was awesome. He really had a good time at half-past midnight, playing in the bath by himself. And so the fever didn't worry me logically, but the thoughts still popped into my brain that I couldn't control--he's going to die. Tonight, he is going to die. I felt so far away from the reality of the situation. I felt myself sliding back into myself, like the lack of control over anything was slamming the door in my face, locking me outside.

He is fine, by the way. Thomas Harry. He stands like a little Hotei Buddha, smiling at me as a write, hands over his head. He is pure love, that boy. But as the hours ticked back last night, me listening to the cadence of his breathing, feeling his face and hands in the dark to check his temperature, I could feel the wall between me and the comfort of the night.
Please, Fear, just let me in. I just want to be with my family.


  1. I understand. The fear, the lack of control. I still think George is going to go away one day (which in all likelihood, he will, but hopefully it is when he is lanky and young and thinks he knows everything and I will help him move his shit out). When he sleeps too long I wonder if he might be dead. I don`t know if we`ll ever shake the fear, really. I`m glad Thor is feeling better, give that boy a smooch for me.

  2. This is wonderful. I can relate so very much. When I'm underfed or sleep deprived these thoughts haunt me the most; usually I can tuck them into my pocket and pick at them when I need to.

    So glad TH is better; those fevers are the worst.

  3. Our lack of control is both terrifying and freeing at the same time. If I had the illusion of control, I would blame myself for my loss. And I did everything I could and still lost my son. But yes, what a terrifying reality to acknowledge how most things truly are out of our hands.

  4. I still fight with trying to control. Maybe that's my problem - I need to let go of more. So wise, Angie, so wise.

    And I always think of him as Thor!

  5. So glad he's feeling better Angie... I do the same thing whether the girls are sick or not.. always feeling them breathe in the night- it's so much more terrifying when you've been through the worse case senario... and you are right.. it is tough to be human.


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