[This gorgeous picture was taken by Nancy – Henry’s lovely stepmother. She and his dad took us out to brunch last week while they were in town and then we had a brief sojourn in the park]
I may have alluded to this here in the past, but I am a daydreamer. I have a particular daydream about doing parts of my life over knowing what I know now so that I can do them perfectly. I get obsessive about story continuity and the rules which might govern a leap into the past. I think there’s some vague underlying notion of God having sent me back to “teach me a lesson” or some such movie-induced nonsense. I don’t believe God would ever do such a thing. But I have come to the conclusion that it would indeed be quite a “lesson” and not much more if I was ever to get over being sad about things I miss and having to re-live so many years. There are two scenarios: one in which the further I stray from what I’d originally done, the more my memory of the life I’d lived before would fade – which would free me from a lot of the guilt and pain associated with losing those I hold most dear – and one in which no matter what I do, the memories stay clear and I can somehow make essentially the same choices but make them all bigger and brighter. One thing never lines up for me. You can’t do over a miracle. Even if you marry the same person at the same moment of your life and start trying to have a baby in the same year you did before, you can’t make the same two cells come together in the same instant of time. So, as I can’t help but follow the rules which govern my own daydream, I never fail to end up crying into my pillow that in this daydream I have lost my son for good. The daydream has lost its whole purpose by that point – which I guess was to soothe some vain and prideful part of my self which longs to make its own good – and has devolved into a pointless mourning for a son who is likely in the next room getting fruit leather residue on my couch.
But it made me realize yesterday what that means. If I were ever to find myself transported, with all of my memories, back to my 18th year of life and had the choice between creating a “better life” or going back to the one with Gilead in it with all its drawbacks, there would not be a single moment of hesitation in my mind. I would give up any amount of prospective recognition, personal achievement or money in order to have him, to know him, to kiss him in the morning and, yes, to clean his butt and witness his tantrums. And here’s more: maybe I haven’t pursued a career because I have been lazy or directionless and I’m sure I have other tasks to do with my own personal strengths for the church or for the purpose of making money, but before I had Gilead, having children was an interest just like making things with my hands. Now, it is my passion. HE is my passion.
When I say passion, I mean like Christ’s passion: that He died for what He loved. To be closer to the ones He loved. And that is what I do every single day – almost every waking [and non-waking, sometimes] moment of my life. I die to what I would have wanted for myself in a larger sense in some ways but also, and more importantly, in ordinary ways every day. Not perfectly, not like Christ, but purposely. To be closer to Gilead. And I start to understand the jealousy of God. I don’t want to pay someone else to do this for me – at least not more than occasionally – because this is my death to die and it’s not for some ideal; it’s for a person.
And you know what? Maybe I’m too sensitive or I’m listening to the wrong voices, but the voices out there who are telling me that in order to be a productive member of society, I have to work outside the home along with raising children or that children are an obstruction to a better self or that they are a financial drain and a danger to my sanity just can’t take this away from me. They can’t make me think it’s pitiful or that I’m settling for something worse than what I could have had or that I’m going to look back at my life and be sorry for all of the meaningless chores and drudgery.
I know what passion is now.