Anita Moorjani says that there are no coincidences. That has become a bit of a mantra for me.
I remember the welling of the sob as I finished the last pages of Isabel Allende’s Paula, my still favourite book. I let a phone call ruin it for me, but I still have the unblemished memory of another ending, a book called Bridge to Terabithia. “What’s wrong Jana?” my mom asked. “My book is over,” I replied. “And it was so good. And so sad.”
I watched Brokeback Mountain in Arizona, sitting beside my first husband and his mother. It burrowed itself between my lungs for days, much like my nana did when she died. I wonder now if it was telling me the same thing I hear in this moment, as I carry a cracked open heart after my whole being insisted I see the latest remake of A Star is Born.
I shouldn’t be writing. Glennon Doyle is heavy on the reminder that we write from the scar, not the wound. But I also hear that larger than life cowboy I (kinda) dated who challenged that we don’t REALLY know anything, until we die . . .
Do YOU know, Beardo? Do you KNOW?
I’m being cocky and writing whilst wounded. Forgive me if the words to and fro.
Here we go then.
Me and my counsellor, we are getting to know Little Jana. If I have told you my story, it likely started with words about fourteen. The year my hair began to fall out; the year my family first felt unsafe. That’s the line I have given. Except that five year old Jana has been standing there this whole time, just waiting for me to hear her.
Little Jana was cared for by the wounded. She – on her bed with a much lined self help book. He – on the couch with head in hand, mind elsewhere and TV on. Lines repeated from that story I always tell. They sat and laid with their littles. Sat and laid. Dull roars, further muted by the silence of the other. I let go some love to my parents as I to and fro these words.
But now it’s time for Little Jana to come out from under the soft, red blanket that protected her from the wolf that wanted to eat Peter. A black album cover and an expansive living room floor, my small self secure with all edges tucked tight. Clarinet? Oboe? The music of that story permeated the red blanket, but I felt so very safe.
Oh! She’s shy. So let me pick up my cracked open heart and add a starry filter to this part of the story. Come along, Little Jana . . .
The wound, the wound. You know that bearded man, the one who died? The one who died angry, who wrapped himself around me and I led him out? Well it’s been a year now and I’ve been angry (again). He never said good bye.
When people talk about assisted death they talk about peace, and I don’t get to do that. I did – I talked about peace – in the days afterward, but I was relieved. No more suffering, his and mine. No more anger, his and mine. I’m good with the truth of our story in how it separates peace from choice as surely Beardo cannot be the only one who just wanted it all to be over, resolution or not. But while I can tell that story to make change, that’s not the one I want to carry in between my lungs.
So I guess that’s why I almost tripped over myself to reserve a reclining seat for A Star is Born. Got the right drink – half sweet chai latte, a throwback to past rituals – and a small popcorn. And when Bradley Cooper’s bearded face – huge, gentle, wounded – came on the screen I was gone. Gone. Gone.
Now I listen and watch. Listen and watch for what I can pick up that belongs to me. The welling of the sob as the fissure opens and Little Jana pokes her head out. “It’s ok,” she says. Or perhaps I am speaking to her. Remember, we are in the wound and it’s on the sea.
All of the imperfect things we do and feel. All of them. The fear and our carried childhoods and the best of the people who could. Little Jana. She says to peak out from under the soft, red blanket and rerun the movie in my head. No, not the one with the big stars and the tragic plotline. The one where the angry man was also love, wisdom, and joy. She says its ok if that version of the story endures, because it’s what he was honestly trying to be, despite those too numerous moments when he spoke through the protective filter of his facial hair.
I am more than sure that there are other words I do not hear in this moment. But for now I’m going to simplify the story and speak of anger in death, demons and love. That is the important outward story, the job I assure myself I can do. But because Little Jana is still peaking out and the needle has been lifted from Peter and the Wolf, I’m taking this moment to tell her its safe to be wrapped by the strong love that came in brief moments from a man who once was little too.
You hear me Beardo? It was enough. High five.
“I love you. Always remember us this way.” Jackson Maine