Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dr. Quill has almost reached the creche

Dr. Quill, with the Stag King, three pigs, the Tinman, and assorted other treasures and relics of my childrens' early years, is enroute to the stable. Well, really, he is enroute to a corner of my large amazing bookshelf, the one built by a young handsome carpenter who is fond of French literature, who helped during the summer bookstore move. There on the corner shelf, not far from the little carved statue of Gandhi, is where Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus were set up for the 12 days of Christmas this year.
Starting on day one, the 25th of December, the wise people (and animals) journey to visit. They arrive on Ephiphany, the 6th of January.

And this year we had Dr. Quill lead the group.

Dr. Quill is orange. Well, really he is coral and pinkish, a 70's plastic color. He is a monster with hands outstretched and fingers waving. He is covered with bumpy prickles. I bought him for my eldest son when son was 3 or 4 and I was having a fun and somewhat guilt ridden weekend with my current partner, leaving the child under his father's care. When my son and I moved out to the forests to live with partner, despite all my vows to the contrary--"I will never set up house with an adult male" I told myself, content with my single motherhood--when we set up house together, all the toys came.

And actually, before that, the toys covered the floor of my tiny rental by the river. Paul and my son would enact long Russian novel sorts of scenarios with Candyland figures and plastic dolls.

Dr. Quill was the acupuncturist of the group. He made everyone else well, being just covered in energetic prickles.

Since my eldest is now 31 he probably could care less about his childhood toy; he is good at letting go of things. I rescued Dr. Quill from the trash some years ago. My daughter recalls how she'd push madrone berries down the good doc's gullet, pretending they were poison. Complicated youngster, that girl--she made homes for the little sowbugs, yet she tried to poison the poor doc.

When I rescued him I did have to remove some rotting berries from his stomach.

So now he sits, benignly about to visit a holy family, and we have come through another season. We've had some comfort and some joy. And some loss, and the world doesn't seem to have paused much in its madness and its beauty.

Christmas Day my youngest grew suddenly very sorrowful and withdrawn. We'd been celebrating at his sister's house, with his brother and his adored brother-outlaw. The potica (I must remember to print the recipe here someday) was duly baked in my daughter's oven, since the bear destroyed the stove at our cabin and at the bookshop we have just a hotplate. Games were played, presents admired. The big yellow cat my daughter and I brought back from the edge of death last summer was also admired and petted. Outside the storms raged, snow fell.

And suddenly Gabe was sad, and needed to come back to our own private realm, through sleet and snow.

The world, he said, was sad. People were sick, people were dying, the world was hurting. His urgency and the tears in his eyes--these were hard to deal with. He tugged at his father's sleeves, he pulled at me, he said, staring into our eyes with desperation "make it better, make the world better, help the people".

And then he tried some deep breathing, and then he told us "breathe bad in, out breathe happy".
And then he seemed to feel a little better.

It was an odd few days after that, during which he refused to look at television, in which he once looked at me, and patted me, and said "tears come, always, breathe". We did what we could. He said his heart hurt, but was careful to tell us, no, it wasn't that it hurt physically--he searched through a box of cards to find the word "good", to tell us "heart good".

And on the 5th day he smiled and said "I'm back now".

The world is a mysterious place. Lord knows I weep, thinking of the terrible things going on. I wish I could help and heal and save and comfort. I wish I were as capable as my youngest son believes me to be. We do what we can. Gabe has enjoyed going with his father to bring books and food to prisoners, to the emergency shelter. We feed the little birds. We laugh.

It's a complicated thing, this life.

Oh, my dears, wherever you are--comfort and joy to you. Maybe the loving crazy energy of Dr. Quill--of our childish imaginings and hopes and dreams--could really heal us all.

Who knows?


Blogger am said...

jarvenpa, now I know where I got the idea of truly counting the 12 days of Christmas. It was from you. That's still a beautiful image of the wise people and animals and their journey to Epiphany on January 6, which is my only nephew's birthday. Along the way I also count the days of Kwanzaa, and this year I counted the days of Hanukkah, too. In these last few days, I've been looking at questions. "Who knows?" is a good questions for these early days of 2009.

Thank you so much for writing about Dr. Quill, the Stag King, three pigs, the Tinman, among others.

And for writing in Gabe's behalf about his five sorrowful days and then, "I'm back now."

Joy and peace to you and your extended family of people and animals.

12:39 PM, January 05, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wishing you and your family and your extended families a better tomorrow. Thanks for writing.

I don't have a manger, but I do remember how much I loved my grandmother's manger, and the miss-matched sheep and cows. I think there were two Josephs for some reason. I always liked the animals better though. I never was a people person.

5:56 PM, January 05, 2009  
Anonymous marly said...

Blessed Epiphany! And may we all find our own right-prickling Dr. Quill to heal us.

Happy New Year, Jarvenpa--I hope that the bad news in the book world stays far away from your little shop, and that 2009 is a glad and productive year for you and yours. And a happy year for Gabe.

4:58 PM, January 07, 2009  
Blogger graceonline said...

I am ever grateful for your posts, however far apart they may be. I come to your blog for solace, for the writing, and because you always tell the truth. I pray you have the strength you need. I pray you have the will to let go of burdens you can no longer bear. I pray that you and those whose lives you touch are blessed beyond all measure, and healed.

3:21 AM, January 19, 2009  

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