“Kids. Are. So strong. Resilient. You give them. Your love. And they are fine. They can handle anything. Believe…”
Many more words came from this man I never saw, but his words turned into clouds around me. Eight years ago, they enveloped me and evaporated me. They imploded my well-constructed mental merry-go-round for living life as a high-functioning lie. And, they made plainly obvious everything from the uncomfortable fact that I was collapsing to the experiential fact that angels do walk among us. Or, sometimes, drive taxis.
That dark night, I had just hurriedly hurled myself into the dark back seat of a oddly black yellow cab idling in my unusually dark driveway at a much darker time in my life than I was admitting to. The driver was in total shadow. Even the rear-view mirror was strangely opaque.
I had begun speaking too quickly — and, as the emotionally disingenuous often do, too much — anxiously bursting into several So Sorry I’m Late’s and at least three variations of So Much Going On’s and was beginning to compulsively explain that I had been tending to my sweet babies because of course I am worried about the impact of all of these So Much’s on them and of course I want my children to know only happiness, while unconsciously knowing that of course true happiness and the kind I was speaking about were two very different things, when this inky quiet presence began to speak slowly, strangely and powerfully… and just as strangely and immediately I lightningbolt knew that this was a visitation, an angel was speaking directly to me, and that my life as I knew it was not only a falsity, but over.
Not that I’d ever considered angels to be anything actual, much less had the temerity to think that one would ever take any interest in me. He spoke for quite awhile, but I apprehended only six more words. Far into his cloudy soliloquy and delivered with a more sardonic tone than I would have preferred from an angel, he pronounced:
“Now. YOU, on the other hand…”
An annunciation. And, the truth. That it wasn’t my kids I needed to be worrying about. More clouds, and more obliteration of both years of well-constructed rationalization and a lifetime of instinctual dissociation. The entire Ptolemaic system of my self-conception just went kerfoof as he somehow summarized the angst and grief that actually fueled my preternatural animation and glibness.
Mostly, I recall feeling visceral relief. But, I also recall starting to feel less awed by spectral presence and more… well, irritated. More of a prickly Ok, I Got it, I GOT it attitude. I started telling myself that of course I am just feeling overly emotional because of my then-husband’s earlier angry explosion and subsequent evacuation, which left me yet again to mop myself up and make myself up and call my own taxi and tell my young girls it’s all really OK when it was obviously really not. That of course I am just projecting onto this dark angel’s words and of course I don’t literally believe in angels anyway and a lot more of courses when I realized that, all this time, I had not seen this man’s face at all.
So, I began trying, really trying, to scoot and turn and peer into that bizarre rear-view mirror and wait for streetlights to momentarily illuminate the interior and glance into the windows for reflections and…
I swear. I never saw him. Even at the end, as I held my money close in hopes of drawing a human out of this glowing dark, he somehow reached around without turning, smiled without revealing himself. I never apprehended his face. I only felt it – and everything – so much. I still do. And, I absolutely know that if I had shaken off this experience, snapped back “together” as I walked back into my little world in my big ball gown and disavowed how blown apart I actually was – both by those words and by the life they were calling out – I would not know the joyful complexity I do today.
Not that I announced that next morning that an angel told me to change my life or get divorced or become Buddhist or whatever. Not that I even fully comprehended profound change as it began. But, I did begin – privately at first – to admit to a voice in the universe, an interconnected web of loving energy that really does speak and breathe and emanate from the otherwise prosaic all around us. To recognize that transcendent experience comes clothed in normalcy, not clouds and wings and lightning bolts. That it moves in more pedestrian than mysterious ways.
And, I also had to admit to how much I had always eschewed such possibility and how much magic, or divinity, or whatever you want to call it, I had likely been missing all along by simply not noticing it, much less honoring it and listening to it.
I stopped writing last June to listen. To my kids. Who are. So strong. They can handle anything. It was a good time for them to make some word clouds of their own. Love clouds and brave clouds. Joyfully complex. Something about dividing grief and multiplying our happiness and living their lives on their own terms. And our hearts are more interconnected and more energetic and just more, period, because of their growing moreness.
But, my daughters’ hearts and words are theirs. I can share my words and heart all I want, but theirs I must protect and honor… and listen to, no matter what. Thus concludes my essay on What I Did This Summer, by way of what happened eight summers ago. Next week, we return to our previously unfolding programming.
Free clouds to all returning readers!