things to break your heart

today some things happened that reminded me how breakable the heart is.

on the light end – my parents played a christmas trick on us. we came downstairs and nothing was where it usually is, no stockings, no presents. i know we all said we were scaling back but…to nothing?! then, after we daughters tried to put smiles on our obviously disappointed faces, they surprised us. in the moments of thinking that maybe we’d actually outgrown the christmas thing, i saw that i wasn’t at all ready and might never be.

then we sat around talking about the loved ones who weren’t with us, for a number of reasons, just cherishing them.

at some point today we started having the kind of conversation that i have only ever experienced with family – a conversation where everyone is holding a set of cards, those cards are our life stories…and we all know a bit about everyone else’s hand, but no one knows the whole story. and…one person starts playing their cards, playing the game out. the words are one level of the game – the small talk, or bullshitting part. or deep real conversation part. but then, there’s the eye contact and subterranean tension and body language showing the rest of the game – who’s caught with hard cards to play, who wants out of the game, who’s going to play strategically, who is just playing for fun? and after the conversation ended, all i could think was – emotions are so loud. where there is love and history, emotions can make it hard to think, or speak.

at another moment, i realized (once again) that my parents spent 17 years seeing most of the moments of my life, and a few more seeing the youth of my sisters, and since then we have been flying through in passing – some longer visits, some shorter.

most of my growing up and struggling and drama and Life has happened out of their sight. so i have to explain things, share things that are hard to share, if i want them to understand more who i am now. most topics that come up in this house now – from international politics, to drugs and alcohol, to sex and love, to babies, to welfare and poverty – these are no longer theoretical. life has been writing all over our pages, the ending is changing all the time.

i idealize big parts of my childhood world, but i also realize that my parents did so much to create for us a world of our own, where things were good. and now, things have happened to all of their children that – good or bad – are hard. the human experience leaping off the page, tip-toeing away from fairly tale.

how do children intentionally transition our relationship with parents to show them what was instilled, what remains, how it is manifesting…even if some of those stories could jar their worldview? on the flip side, how do we stop resenting them for all the life they didn’t protect us from? couldn’t stop from happening? put us on the path towards?

and of course, this all comes back around to jesus. my extended family think i have forsaken jesus for california, but i am a huge fan of jesus. we have sense of humor with each other, of all the great spiritual beings out there – he and buddha are my faves. jesus = unlimited fish and wine, kicking it with prostitutes, meditation, spiritual journeys, forgiveness, meekness and martyrdom? i’m all in!

so today i was thinking of jesus as a child, born to save the world by going into it, into the darkest parts. in his father’s image, of his father, but of a world his father could never inhabit. and i was thinking that to some degree, jesus appeals to me because i can see a way in which we are all children with that calling, or at the very least being thrown forward into the dark, reporting back to our parents about the ways that the future is already here, each generation better than the one before, but more complex. and eventually, most people martyr themselves along the way – settling in a world that can’t abide by miracles.

but the universal truth is transformation, the feeling inside that we can be better; whether that motivation is an all-seeing father with a plan, or a higher plane of existence discovered within.

i suspect its hypocritical to hold an ideal around transparency and transformation, and not hold that possibility for my family. or go beyond holding, but intentionally push that ideal within my family, focus on my family as the point where i will see that ideal realized. that is the christmas thinking of an idealist who loves the better part of every faith i’ve ever examined.

the last few minutes of the spurs-suns game was remarkable, heartbreaking for both teams – though one walked away victorious after the kind of drawn out 7 seconds that renews your faith in flight and precision.

eartha kitt died today. the list of living people who blow my mind changes every day.

we watched the dark knight as a family, and its the most thrilling and tragic, morbid experience. watching heath ledger’s spinning, dark, vacuous joker, watching him go into that role so thoroughly that he perhaps never came out of, gives every aspect of the movie an edge that isn’t right, like dipping a body part into the bracing chill of someone else’s suicidal bath.

now i am up too late, again, hoping to sleep in tomorrow – because i can, though it never happens.

and so this is christmas.