Friday, July 12, 2013

Soul Ink


The tumult of summer storms has blown through, leaving last night's window fans to fill the house with rain-washed air and tracing chills down my bare arms this morning as I stand in the kitchen contemplating the nine and ten foot branches now lying in our backyard.  Such a powerful thing, invisible wind.  The lip of the porcelain sink is cool beneath my fingers, I wait for the coffee to finish.  Voices murmur from the radio.  I pause...

"What was the hardest thing about my cancer for you, Daddy?" 

"Seeing you there, so swollen, so many tubes connected to you...."

She'd had bone cancer.  Her ten year-old voice strong and sweet now, filling the room with a nearly inaudible whisper of victory.  The tremble in his makes my heart stop.  Those thoughts that your mind skitters away from, an agonizing flame of a fear too terrible to even touch upon.  Parenthood is the ultimate state of vulnerability. 

You could hear the smile on her lips though, as she remembered one of her favorite things.  He would buy tattoo pens at the gift store...

And turn her scars into a garden.

The long one that ran from her sternum to her pelvic bone became the stem for roses, her favorite flower.  The one from her feeding tube, a butterfly.  He drew over the monsters.  He drew her beautiful.

Standing there, tears sliding down my cheek...so convicted.  Every life has joy and pain.  Some more so than others.  But the secret is in the ink of us.  How we approach and confront and forgive and leave behind the monsters. 

How we make gardens from our scars.



10 comments:

Robbie Grey said...

Yeh, the parental nightmare, burying your own baby. And cancer would be horrific torture to boot.

Good to read she survived. I wonder if she'll ever make those drawings into actual tattoos. Or if she'll need to.

Shelly said...

Beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, gardens from scars...it's always there, but it takes a special person to see it.

Shea Goff said...

Ah yes, my friend. Simply beautiful.

ravenjanedoh said...

Parenthood IS everything all rolled into one. Pain, joy, worry, triumph. It's nice to hear about the victories.

ND Mitchell said...

Love the line "And turn her scars into a garden" It made me think of this song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe5WdaoRc7c
Beautiful words Chantel.

FrankandMary said...

Your words are good at stirring up a little wonderment, regardless of subject matter~but with this subject, well...

This is something that will hold tenancy in my mind for a while. Your thoughts are as deep as pockets, but you present them simply, not lightly, but as a beautiful simple truth-poem. ~Mary

Chantel said...

Robbie--her dad told her that WHEN (so important a word in a terminal diagnosis, don't you think?) she turned 18, they would get a tattoo together. I love this.

Shelly--exactly. I long for that sight. :)

Shea--thank you, my dear. xo

Jane--yes, they do keep us going, don't they?

David--the song is beautiful! Thank you, my friend.

Mary--I think in pictures. It's a gift often, but can also be a dreadful curse as the agony in some words pierces me deeply. The vision of this father, bent over the body of his child...drawing loveliness over the pain. Such is true beauty. Soul deep.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

That is a heart-warming story, but your telling of it makes it searing, memorable, heroic, oh-god-what-would-I-do-if-it-happened-to-my-kid, haunting, and inspiring. I just read your response to Mary, and I think you have quite a gift, thinking in pictures and being able to translate them to words. Vibrant words.

Mel Heth said...

You gave me goosebumps with this one. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. And reminding.

The Loerzels said...

Gardens from our scars indeed! Beautiful as always...