Later, I am going to write a very serious poem. About death. But first a few words about the most alive people I know, Z and G, and about living and laughing with them and the most good crying jag ever.
Last spring, a bantam rooster from the stables next door came over to our yard. He was devastatingly handsome and conceited and all 6” of him vibrated with rooster power.
I called over to the stables to let them know he was at our house. “He’s on his own,” they told me, “He’s a jerk!”
I guess he was just too much man for those bantam hens…G and Z fell totally in love with him and G named him “Erk.” We fed him uncooked 10-grain hot cereal and delighted in him for a couple of days.
On the day that the kiddoes spend with their father, I went on a crazy mountain bike ride with my world-class athlete beau. Just a quarter-mile or so from my house, almost home, I hit a washboard and went over the front of my bike, knocking out both a tooth and myself. Fast-forward through the hospital, the initial grappling with concussion, the first sight of my ravaged face (Figure 1) to the next day, early afternoon.
Figure 1: My Face, May 2011
Picture me, a fairly slim, white, blonde woman. Without ever having been overtly aware of it, a woman imbued with major non-dangerousness (except during my punk rock days – and that’s another story!). I have decided to do some gardening, despite being somewhat physically and mentally depleted. I am still in my pajamas: skin tight red velvet bellbottoms and a concert shirt from my friend’s band. The design on the shirt is one of those ornate heavy metal jobs, with umlauts and gothic script and ram’s horns, but the band itself was a pop/folk band and the design is tongue-in-cheek. Anyway, I have a missing tooth, a black eye, and a cut down the center line of my face. I am carrying a shovel and a hunk of bee balm that I plan to plant just across the dirt road next to my mailbox. Oh, and Erk is by my side, my trusty sidekick awaiting the next sprinkle of grain.
Figure 2: Erk
Suddenly a giant SUV with New York plates comes barreling down the road, windows down. I step back into my driveway, shooing Erk along as well.
“Watch out for the roothter!” I shout to the couple in the SUV, who are looking at me with horror in their eyes. My definitely-compromised mind starts racing: why are they looking at me like that? No one has ever looked at me like that! I’m—well—me! What…the…heck…is…going on???
And then I get it. Or so I think: “Well, it’th not MY roothter!” I loudly inform the couple, as they drive away as quickly as possible under the circumstances.
I have had many a laugh with friends and family over the conversation that might have ensued in that SUV: “Darling, this is why we don’t LIVE in Vermont!”
BOTH children think this is the funniest story ever. They will inevitably ask me to tell it in any social gathering. But I remember this time more because it was the first time Z ever really cried. Not that non-attachment-promoting, angry, demanding cry of the attachment-disordered child, but pure sadness and compassion.
My parents had come up to help (I couldn’t drive) and brought the kids home from school later that same afternoon. I was sitting in the armchair and Z came toward me, slowly. Right there I knew something was going on – she usually zings when she moves. She climbed into my lap, took one look at me, and began to wail. She curled up in my arms and continued to cry for a very long time.
Four years after coming home, at five years old, my daughter was crying for the first time. I was very proud. It felt so good and natural to hold her and keep holding her. I told her how brave she was to feel her feelings, as I petted her and held her as if she really was my baby who really needed me in a way I could innately understand. Some part of me released that day, the scared and angry part of me that had shriveled when my daughter came into our family pissed and stayed that way despite my best efforts.
Sometimes we still reminisce about Erk. We’ll talk about how beautiful he was, how small, how dapper and self-important… I will usually say, “Wasn’t Erk the best rooster ever?” and G – literal to a fault - will say, “Mama! He was our Only rooster! “
Although Erk left our home a day or two later (having gone “back home” – if by “back home” one means “probably eaten by a fox”), he was our one and only rooster of enduring laughter and tears.
Full Spectrum Mama