Love is as unknown as the stars.
January 20, 2015
A VG Serial: Where It Ended
I didn’t hear the first lil’ wail of life from Lily Claire, but if’n I had to guess, I’d say it be a hallelujah. For when Lily Claire come into the world, she packing gladness. Seth come an git me the day after she born an take me to the hospital to see this new blessing. It seem she skip right over Martha Faye’s dark eyes an hair, right on passed Seth’s sandy-colored curls an on to her grandmother’s white blonde silky strands like streaks of silvery sunlight. An her eyes be that blue you don’ see into but right on through. Maybe we do circle back like some people say, for if this not be Katie Gayle lying in my arms, I don’ know who it be. Ecepting Lily Claire bring somethun to this world no Sutton ever known. She bring joy, an over the years that follow, this lil’ child who, like a female George Washington Carver, plant goodwill everwhere she be.
I always believe that if’n you can juss hang in, the circle come back round, an if’n I had any doubts afo’, the birth of Lily Claire that cold, sleety January morning in 1994 take them all away.
Seth idolize this child. He know it be the only one he have, an that seem such a shame, for he such a wonderful father. But Martha Faye wouldn’t be able to tend mo’ than one, maybe not even that many, so to spare any future chilun her persnickety nature, I think only one was meant to be. Hard to say what it was made this child so special, but one thing fo’ sure, it be like they no Sutton blood flowin’ in her veins.
Come her sixth birthday, Lily Claire’s daddy take her out to Miss Katie’s farm fo’ the first time. Miss Katie been seein’ her all along, but Martha Faye, she don’ want her child at that farm, for she think all her troubles start ‘cause she live for a time on that farm. Seth he see how good it be for Lily to be with her grandmama an in a place where they be animals an plants, life an growth.
You know life be such a wonder. Whoever think that Miss Katie be the one who step up to be the woman in this child’s life.
It’s like they both need each other. Through Lily Claire, Katie come to see what a childhood look like. What you do as a child, an how you feel ’bout the world. Fo’ Katie surely never have that experience. An Lily Claire find someun who interested in her, a person who listen to her questions an talk with her. They be rumor that Katie trying to git even, by gittin’ the child to favor her, but that such silly talk. Katie so nervous in that lil’ gal’s company that she’d give anything to be someplace else. She have no plan, not even any motive. This all take her completely by surprise. In fact, when I ax her to esplain it one night, she set thinking for a long time afo’ she answer.
“I just feel drawn to her, Miss Imogene, somewhat like dance, but then sort of backwards. Rather than starting with technique and developing the creative element as I would in dance, with her, I sensed the creative element right from the start. But I have no idea what the steps or movements are. It’s as if I’m supposed to be with her and figure it out moment to moment. Sometimes I feel like she’s my teacher; sometimes I’m hers. But this time is our time, Miss Imogene, both yours and mine and Lily Claire’s.”
“And what you see this time mean fo’ you and me?”
“It’s like I never had my early adult years. I was so lost when I came back to Ellensburg, my life was the frantic paddling of someone drowning. All I can remember was every day being another hapless, desperate struggle to get through. It captured every waking hour and even owned my dreams. I knew you as a mama, and now I know you as a friend, but there never was any transition. And that chunk of life is missing. I know it only as a sense of pain. Somehow I managed to do what needed to be done. About that, I felt as if I had no choice. But I was so disconnected from everything and everyone, that when Judd took me to the hospital, I was sure they’d brand me insane and never let me out. I want to be sure I don’t leave this earth without understanding what was going on then, and you’re the only one who can help me. I guess I’m saying I’m finally ready to listen.”
I smile at her knowin’ how far she come to make such a confession. I pat her hand to let her know I hear her, hear her loud an clear. Then I ax a question I always want to know. “What be you deepest pain, child? What that be?”
“Feeling so flawed that I didn’t deserve love or caring, like I’d already done something so terrible I deserved to be abused. It seemed to be the price for a sin I never knew I committed. How else could I explain what was going on?”
“When you dance, didn’t you feel special then? Everone telling you how talented you be?”
“Dance didn’t give me a sense of esteem. It wasn’t about that at all. Dance gave me a getaway. It was a door that opened and took me in, a hidey-hole, a fortress against forces I couldn’t fathom or fight. Sometimes it would swathe me in a sense of peace so deep and sweet that I’d dare to think I was an orphan, and my real parents were looking for me, devastated at losing me. But they never came.”
“Families too often have only chilun as they members—the real youngsters an the adults who never growed up emotionally, with the adults having a bigger parcel of needs an wants than they chilun. They so caught up in they own struggle fo’ love an appreciation, so busy fighting down fear, they have nothing to give, only needs that want fillin’. Mo’ people than you ever realize never be an adult ‘cepting in age. The mo’ needy they be, the more harm they cause. An the worse part be they next generation be even mo’ needy an mo’ damagin’. For need is what they told love be. An love be somethun as unknown to them as the planets or the stars. You think on that fo’ a while. See what you see.”
As we meet an talk over the weeks to come, I begin to see less pain in Katie’s eyes. A gentle light begin to shine out toward the world. I hear her laugh an sing as she an Lily Claire explore the fields, the flowers, the animals an each other. If you axed me some years ago if’n I ever think Katie finally know happiness, I likely wouldda answer no. But here it be, an it’s so wondrous beautiful, that I never say agin there be anyone who couldn’t finally heal.
Episodes of Where It Ended by Christina Carson will be published every Tuesday.