Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Barbara Spicer
Hold me. That's the one plea I might still make—the plea I know will go unanswered. So I watch a play or read a book. I fantasize. I hold myself and repeat the mantra that has sustained me for the last seven years: "You can do this. There's nothing to be afraid of. There's nothing you need that you can't get for yourself." I hold to the words like a life preserver because they are. They keep me sane.
My mother calls because she is alone in her house. That hasn't happened often since she met Bud two years ago. Dad died, and three years later she was in love and married and immersed in a life completely different from anything she lived in all the years I have known her.
I am happy for her, glad she does not have to be alone. I joke about how quickly she found a partner, how long I have been alone. But on some level this is my choice. This is my truth. I hold myself separate. I contain my needs. I hold my stories, doling them out carefully, cautious with the words that might expose me.
I hold Jones when he leaps at my legs and am comforted by the pleasure he takes in my warmth and my affection. I hold each student in my heart at some point each day, reminding myself that they are children, but seeing how close adulthood is for them and how rapidly and eagerly they race toward that unknown terrain. I hold them dear, believing that each moment of their childhood is precious, wishing that my parents had held me closer, kept me safer, protected me from the predator who robbed me of my childhood.
I read a practice from Pema Chodron's teachings each morning and work to hold myself in the moment, to stay with the fear, trusting that I will become more tender and more courageous, hoping that I will learn to be completely open, my arms flung wide to welcome the world, not wrapped tightly across my chest, holding myself together.
Barbara Spicer is a teacher and writer living in Petaluma, CA.
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