I stood in the rain last night listening to my friend talk about suicide. We lost another person in our community last week, which makes three people in a month. It felt good to be covered in a cool, light rain when our conversation was so heavy. I wore a light summer tunic and yoga pants, so I was soaked in fifteen minutes. The night was beautiful. I thought about my new flowers, my vegetables, my newly planted fig tree. I thought about the men that died, and my baby in the ground under her sister's tree. The conversation flowed easily, and we pooled around the subject of faith and the book of James. If he had realized, my friend would have stopped talking about Psalms, or he would have invited me into his car, but I wanted to stand in the rain, let it wash over me.
There is no figuring any of it out, but we retell the stories to each other. We witnessed those people. They lived. They died. My friend says that they chose a peace, the peace with a decision made. I never mentioned my miscarriage, or my hemoglobin levels, or my dead daughter, but they were all there running down my back, puddles of them around me. My feet wriggle into the wet ground, sprout hard knotty roots out of my toenails. They lift the cement, and I reach high into the air, branches and leaves, taking in the rain. My trunk covered in lichen and small burrowing insects. I bleed into the soil. I sweat all night into the air, covering the grass around me in dew. My sapling is gone. I need the rain to let her go.
My strength is slowly poured into my body through dandelion leaf juice with lemon and apple. It is a bitter tonic. My friend brought me vegan potato soup. It restored something earthy in me. I roast veggies all day. My husband reminds me that a steak would be best for my blood, but I shoo him away with his insights. I am no longer willing to compromise that part of my belief system. I did that for many years, told people I was once a vegan line cook, a vegetarian for a decade, but I eat some meat now and again. They'd cringe. No one trusts an ex-vegetarian.
I will tell that story one day, the one about me compromising my beliefs about eating flesh, but not today.
The rain suits me. Lately, I have been fantasizing about moving to Oregon or Washington state, where the weather seems perfectly suited to my personality. And the lifestyle, let's be honest, seems perfectly suited to me too. We talk late at night about creating a gypsy caravan or camper. We pin ideas for each other on Pinterest, and think about making something eco-friendly where we are completely off the grid. It has a woodstove and solar panels, a composting toilet and a veggie oil diesel engine. We sell our house. We take our family on the road for a few years, homeschooling and traveling across the country, then we end up in a rain forest, creating an ice machine. The children are young, they will manage quite nicely. And we can grasp onto all the second chances we were afforded in the last few decades.
I am a tree walker, a large creature with moss and bark and hollow crevices for small creatures to create a home. I stomp through the forest, and I don't make a noise. I want to live on nothing with nothing but my children, my husband, the dog, then the bare necessities. To create art with my children, and sleep in one large bed with blankets made out of old sari silks and turmeric dye. To learn about the world by seeing, touching, doing. We cling to each other now, Sam and the children and my need to protect us overwhelms me. We sleep together, and think about how we can create a larger bed. We want us all close, skin touching other skin. Someone's knee juts into the crook of someone else's knees. I search for protective herbs and plant pansies and snapdragons by our front door. I burn black candles charged with a white light to surround my family. I wonder what psychic harm I have endured by being so public about my grief and pregnancies. About my drinking past and sober present. I grieve and parent in this space. That feels so vulnerable lately, so much like a felled tree, rings counted at the whim of any passerby, made into a stump bench, gawked at and marveled at and confused by.
The last few weeks, I have been thinking about this space, my writing about grief and death and my daughter and my pregnancy. Sometimes I think the hardest part about this space is that I don't have any idea who reads here. My site tracker is vague. I check it infrequently at any rate. And I grow deeply self-aware that people in my daily life can come here and read my ugly thoughts, or my fears, and I know nothing about them. But that is not the hard part. It is not any of my business to know who reads here and it is certainly not my business to know what they think of me and my writing. What is hard is that I am changing. I want to have a conversation. I want a community. I offer up my writing, my vulnerability, in some strange forest ceremony, a large bonfire in a circle of trees, beckoning others to me, then I grow self-conscious when others watch, when I think they watch and offer no dance themselves.
The rain has continued all night into this morning. We lie in bed and read books, dreaming of the road and Sequoia. The babies ask me if our new baby is okay under Lucia's tree in the rain. And I tell them she is growing and changing into something more marvelous than we can imagine. We have to trust the earth to change her into something rich and loamy, and us too. And change us too.