Tuesday, December 09, 2014
It wasn’t quite the wolf at the door. Still, the sound was huge, demanding, and scary.
I had been resting with my youngest, both of us newly returned from the children’s hospital in SF where dozens of medical staff (and janitors and clerks and people in the hallways) had flooded our lives with kindness, straight talk, & (for me) hastily produced tissues to wipe my streaming eyes. The sounds there were curiously both sharp and muted—the beep of machines connected to my boy, the steady purr of oxygen, his gentle breathing. I hadn’t slept.
And now, at the door, these heavy thuds. To tell the truth, I figured it might be my partner, back from the woods with armloads of firewood, annoyed at the locked door and unable to reach his key. So I rushed out, inwardly swearing at his impatience, but glad at the prospect of a warm fire.
I was wrong. A tall man with a jagged branch of redwood had hit the glass of our door with force. Twice. The pattern radiated like a spiderweb, but the glass held. I opened the door to call out “what on earth are you doing?” Next door a woman shouted, “no, get back in, he could hurt you”.
I watched him rush away into the cold and misty night, and went indoors to call 911. The young cop was kind enough when he arrived, shaking his head at what he figured to be a thousand dollars worth of damage, sympathetic to my desire that the guy get some help. He told me he’d been picked up quickly and would be taken to the hospital and then for some mental health care, and if I wanted to press charges, well I certainly could. I said I saw no point in jailing him, I was glad he’d get care.
I saw him the next morning, his arm stapled up (there was a knife wound), his eyes bewildered. He said he had no memory of the night before. “I did that?” he said, over and over, staring at the pattern in the glass. Yeah, I said, I saw you, it was you.
I suggested maybe a bottle less each week of vodka might be wise. And, well, he could bring the money he’d spend on that my way, to add to the door fund. It seemed a good idea. To me, anyway; he didn’t seem all that impressed, walking back to his camp, unconvinced, telling me he needed a good place to live, telling me he was 70 (I said he seemed younger, he said, well, his birth certificate tells him he’s in his 50’s, but he remembers when his mom picked him up 70 years ago).
I’ve been looking at the broken glass a couple weeks now, waiting for the one glass person in our region to have time to repair it. It’s a pretty pattern. Everything interconnects. Light shining through makes little prisms. It still makes me feel punched in the stomach, though I tell myself how pretty.
And I worry about the guy, one of many who have no safe place to be, who walk through the pouring cold rain, who have no shoes, who howl at the inexplicable, obdurate world in which people laugh at them, throw things at them, whisper. Who go hungry. Who drink too much. Who sometimes die of small things. Who die small deaths daily. Whose eyes bear hurt. Who can’t remember, and it might be a good thing.
I think it is probably my own inner wolf, my own inner brokenness, my own desire to howl and rage at the world that finds such easy if complicated recognition of the stray and wild in our world; the little feral cat at my windowsill or the disturbed and raging man breaking my window-door.
When I have time to sit with all this, as I sat all night with my son, stilling my anxious heart, chatting with night nurses about their new children, their loves, their dying fathers…when I have time to go a little deeper, I find that I have so much longing for so much. For warmth for all those out in the elements, for a quiet place for each. For understanding that we are connected, all us broken little pieces with our bright edges. We belong together, somehow. Yes, even though sometimes we clash and bleed.