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A Trickster God

Time passes, and things get better. Time heals all wounds. That’s what people say. For most things, this is true. I no longer care about the dumb thing I did in fifth grade. I am only mildly embarrassed by those memories of early adulthood stupidity that cling like vindictive spiderwebs. But time doesn’t heal everything; it can’t fill in a hole where a person once stood. It can unravel all the memories like tangled thread. It can’t restore or absolve. Time, as much as I’m loath to admit it, isn’t magic.

Loss is a strange thing, a malleable ache, a trickster god no one wants to worship, but everyone does, eventually. It’s been years now since my mom died. And there’s a new normal, a solid restructuring of life. There’s been a lot of wobbly starts and having to figure out unexpected things. But the foundation has settled, so to speak. And life goes on. Change happens. Things get rebuilt.

I don’t miss her any less, just differently. And it starts to feel almost, strangely, safe. As if all the difficult parts have been confronted and put to bed. Not that it’s easy, mind you, but that it stopped catching me off guard. It’s a manageable pain, like a knee that aches when it rains. There’s no more bursting into tears when a song comes on the radio. There’s no more sucker punches. Practice makes perfect, after all. And there’s been time enough to practice.

But the other day, I decided I wanted to dye my hair. I’m in my 30s, but I’ve never done this. It’s such a foreign concept to me, something I always meant to get around to learning about, but never did. And I realized I had no idea how to go about it. Do I attempt it myself (by which I mean, enlist my best friend to help me) or have it done? And then there’s the matter of color. What if I screw up? Pick something terrible? End up looking awful?

I had a few choice meltdowns over hair dye, and I felt like an idiot. Because who stresses out this much about changing their hair color? It’s just hair. It grows back. Color can always be removed. It’s not a tattoo. It isn’t permanent. So why did I feel like I was spinning out?

I couldn’t talk to my mom about it. I couldn’t get her advice, have her walk me through it. I couldn’t argue about the fact that I want purple hair, watching her roll her eyes and shake her head. I couldn’t ask if she’d go with me to have it done, only to see her roll her eyes and tell me she’d do it.

So, I panicked at the details, because that was easier. Because some things fade, but don’t stay buried. And maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe it’s a reminder of how well we loved, when we feel things like this. Maybe pain is just an echo of what was there before. I don’t know. But this caught me by surprise, and it’s held on with strange tenacity. And I’m objectively fine. This is another tally added to the list of things my mom will miss. That list is long, and there no way around it.

Loss is a creature with too many heads. Sometimes, it sleeps. Sometimes, the simplest thing wakes it up. One thing I know is that you can’t prepare for everything in life. In fact, there isn’t much you can brace for, although we convince ourselves otherwise so often. Life is an array of spinning wheels and kaleidoscope colors, whirling mischief and songs just as unexpected as silences. Maybe the trick isn’t trying to always brace for the pain or sidestep it. Maybe the trick is pulling the beauty out of the dark, difficult parts.

But certainly, the lesson is to remember to live. No excuses and few, if any, regrets.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 22, 2017 at 8:55 am

    But certainly, the lesson is to remember to live. No excuses and few, if any, regrets.

    Very well said 🙂

  2. Robyn Hayes
    July 22, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    How utterly perfect on this day when Faye, the loss of her, has totally bushwacked me. I cannot talk to my Faye about one thing she would love and one thing she would not. The trickster god has tripped me up again.

    Love you Robyn

  3. August 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    well written

  4. Robyn Hayes
    August 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Can’t help it…………I still hear this read in your voice and see a wicked wink. Don’t know exactly WHY, but it hit me as something Ali would say and stuck fast.

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