I spoke to my dad's ear on Christmas.
There it was overtaking the screen--a hairy ear canal waiting for my voice to find its way in. Harry Saunders is new to Facetime. So new that I don't think it registered that my face on the screen meant he could just talk at me. Instead, he put me close to his ear. I wanted to crawl into the canal, using each hair as a little rope ladder, inching my way in.
Can you hear me now? Dad, can you hear me?
Hey Dad! Over here! Look at me! I want you to see me.
I do not say this because the funniness of his hairy ear outweighs my inner child's need to connect.
Hey Mom! Is Ryan there? Justin wants to see his dad.
My brother's melancholic face takes over the screen and I watch Justin withdraw. These touchpoints are simultaneously familiar and devastatingly foreign. He's supposed to be...he should be...I wish…nothing is in alignment with his heart's yearning. Both retreat before too much can be revealed, the phone passed to the next family member.
I realize at this moment, I am more protective than angry.
The other night, I woke to an intruder in the backyard. The motion detector flashed indicating something was just outside. Usually, my investigations yield a raccoon. This time I found a fully formed human crouching on the ice and then stretching wide into a snow angel. Hood obscuring the face, the lone figure was head to toe drab blacks and grays; genderless. I ran upstairs to get a better look from the window above. The lump of coal peeled up from the pavement and headed toward the backdoor with a phone in hand. Damn it. I thought. It must have a posse if it's texting. It's gonna be an ambush.
To take a step back or two, there are a couple of important details you need to know. 1) We just watched Home Alone and 2) I've had to review a lot of footage of break-ins at the bike shop over the past few years--the intruders always look just like this, and they always have a friend. Plus, I have very little love in my heart for the way they violated us and our windows.
I realize at this moment, I am more angry than fearful.
Unsure if this was a burglary or someone in mental crisis, I woke Dave, whispering, "Hey, there's someone in our yard." He stumbles out of bed and makes his way to the window. "Shit." we say in unison. They are trying to get in.
We grab our weapons of choice and run downstairs.
He calls out. "Who's there? Show yourself!"
A pause in the darkness.
My heart racing. No freeze or flight. Only fight.
Who could it be? What do they want? Why are they roaming in the middle of an ice storm? Are they cold, hungry? Are they after my bikes? Where is their mother? I don't question if they will hurt us. I know we will prevail on the side of safety for our family. Dave and I are unstoppable in that way.
"It's me." says the charcoal figure with both hands, wisely up.
Turns out, I am its mother.
Peyton emerges from the dark.
We usher our little intruder into adoring arms.
I realize in this moment,
I am more love than I will ever be anger or fear.
And although I cannot remedy the past, I can and will use my motion detector light for our collective future because when we hear it, see it, and name it, we can beat it. These will be our weapons of choice.
Hey Life! Over here! I hear you.
Hey Life! Over here! I see you.
Can I get you a hug? Sandwich? Truth?