Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Sad. Mark the good.

I've had a few posts on "marking the good."
This is another.
I think it's important, for me personally, but also in general to mark the good.
When you're talking about older child adoption and/or working with kids from hard places or with hard needs, I think it's absolutely critical to mark the good.
Because if you don't you might just drown.
Marking the good is a lifeline.
It is a critical point of reference that must be indelibly inked in your consciousness, lest it flees from the mire.

That said, I want to mark the good.
This is one of those small but huge ones.  Most of these are really.  Because with these kids  you don't usually have the brass band events of good to let you know, "hey, this is a good one, this is progress, file it away."  You get these tiny fleeting moments that might even pass you by in the actual moment…until you think back on it and get that 'aha!"
I love an "aha!"

Anyhow, this is all to preface another tiny but huge good we've come to here in the coffeehouse, and with our Miss Marti.
We've just passed through the minefield commonly referred to as "The Christmas Holidays."
We managed to tiptoe through it fairly well, with only a few tripped landmines and a minor loss of limbs and scorching.  Overall, really, it was much more successful than we anticipated or hoped for.  (I still feel the need to kind of whisper that, just in case somehow it jinxes it.  I know, I'm Catholic, not supposed to fall for that kind of superstition…I told you this was tricky stuff…)  




But then, along came Christmas night:
We had done the vigil Mass. We had done the giddy hysteria of opening presents.


We had done the excess of birthday on top of the excess of Christmas.


 Finally, we were at that ebbing tide of the day: evening.  Everyone was tired, but a happy, sated tired.  The kids were roaming quietly, fooling with new toys or gadgets.  New pj's had been donned, dishes done.  My eldest, Chris did what he usually does and  made for the piano.  Tom joined him to sit and listen.  Marta quickly found her way to snuggle up next to dad.  I donned my goofy christmas pj's, in solidarity with the girls (and to show them that there is a certain wonderfulness in super soft flannel warm pj's despite the old fashioned print…. if not because of it).  I had tucked the small boys in, at last.  So I too, was beckoned down to listen to my son play and sing.  By this time, he had gone through his own choices of warm ups and tunes and he had begun taking requests.


Now, let me be clear..this is always a dicey time for me.  I love listening to my son play and sing more than I can say.  Truly. At this point however, it is a tough thing for me to do, as it  makes me cry…it pulls those tears from the depths of my inner heart.  They are so sweet, and bittersweet and just a salty mess.
I am careful, very careful, about my tears…if at all possible.
Because Marta has radar, or sonar, or whatever you'd like to call it.  But if she sees me crying she cries.
Every. Time.
And so, to even step into that room and sit, knowing that I couldn't stem the tears well..was an act of …I don't know. I'd like to say faith…but maybe it was sheer stupidity, or tired or resignation.  I don't remember.
But I did. I gave her a big smile when I came in.  She gave me one back and hugged her dad.
Dad made a few requests…..I could feel the tears pricking but busied myself looking at book spines.  Blinking hard and fast, head turned.  Marta was intent, watching Chris.  All good.
Then, she called out, "Chris.  Marta song, pleeeasseeeee!?"
Chris looked at me, looked at her, looked at dad.
He chuckled. Dad chuckled. I held my breath.
It had been a long day.
Tom nodded at me. It will be ok.  I gave him, "the look." You know that look, the one that says, "do you know what you're doing? It's been a long day and I went to sleep at four and woke at six and I don't know if I have the reserve to deal with any meltdown, really…?"
He nodded again.
So Chris played it.  It's this song:



That is Chris playing "All will be well," By Gabe Dixon.
It's the song we  used for our "passing court" video on blog. Marta considers it her song, she is QUITE proprietary about it.
And so he played it.  He gets better and better all the time.
I held my breath and closed my eyes.  Then I opened them and glanced her way.
Sure enough, she was crying.
She was rubbing her eyes and nose, mouth kind of grimaced.
I felt the tension immediately, in my gut, my neck.
She came over to  me, and climbed on my lap, spilling over it.
I hugged her and said, "You ok? It's ok."
And she said……wait for it…….."Ok mom. Happy Sad."
And she hugged me.

Happy sad.
These two emotions haven't been able to be pieced together by this young girl, since she came home.  There was no such thing as happy tears.  Tears  have only been sad. Ever. Even when I've tried to tell her and show her and she's seen me cry them at, oh, every birthday and holiday.  And tears and/or sad always have led to deep running grief.
But this Christmas, we got a gift.
And I'm marking it down.
Happy Sad.
She was crying, but happy. She knows what that song  means and she can feel that pang of deep happy that makes you cry.
She LOVES to have Chris sing and play that song.
She makes me turn it up if we hear it on the radio.
And this Christmas, in the quieting of the evening….she hit another marker.
Tears, happy tears.
"Happy Sad."
Healing goodness. Happy Sad.

10 comments:

Julie said...

Happy Sad. How beautiful. So Happy to hear it, and wow- what a picture!

Cindy said...

Oh wow! This was beautiful!! Happy sad. Something I've always taken for granted. Thank you for sharing this!

msl said...

So happy to read this Michele. And Julie's right - wow what a photo.

OneThankfulMom said...

I love this so much! I am going to go back to my post today (on "mad" actually being "sad") and put a link to your post. Our older girls are learning how to really feel and to interpret those feelings. It is progress!

Lisa

PursuingtheSummit said...

Boy, did I need this. Thank you.

becca said...

amazing.
breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

"Joy and Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine."
-- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

Shannon said...

Sniffle. Happy sad here. Thank you for posting this and radiating hope.

Zoe said...

Lovely. Happy sad. That sums it up.

Christine said...

I love how she expressed it: happy sad. I read this twice because I loved it so much.

xo