“No wonder your parents didn’t want you.”
That’s the last I heard him say before I climbed the attic stairs.
I took vodka from the kitchen and pills from the bathroom, then I climbed. I went up with heart and feet falling like lead weights, both dragging me down into murky depths, deeper and deeper, down into depths no air-breathing body should ever go. Down in the deepest dark where only simple, single-cells survive.
With his words any life I had left slid swiftly down, sudden-like, and gathered itself under the arch of each foot; drowning pools of what I could have been, should have been. The plans in my mind and the hopes in my heart left with that life, all of it mixing to a murky brew. Maybes and whens and what-ifs, scars on my body, scars on my heart. All those recordings in my head implanted, unmovable. History and memories and disappointments and bitterness. So many broken things.
It was as if everything that made me Me had finally had enough and let go, simply loosed its grip, fingers unfurling and white knuckles releasing, flexing. Finally.
And that’s how I fell. Deeply. Drowning.
I heaved the bulk of Me up those stairs dragging my own feet behind me, scratching, scathing along old oak boards. Up top, out of breath, out of Me, I saw light piercing the dark, vacant space. Light spilled through windows on the east end, liquid morning light, thin, subdued, unspoiled. It fell in at a slant, in distinct discernible rays like a dozen swords or arrows. It pierced through the gray din and dust and gathered itself into a pool on the rough, uneven floor. That light- like a sword piercing, an arrow pointing- here, X marks the spot.
And that’s where I fell, slumped, too heavy for my own might. I thought about his words. His declaration. My insides split and I began to cry. I heard- absorbed- what he’d said and my mind went back to all those before who hadn’t wanted me, those who had left, hurt me, and I agreed. He was so right. “No wonder”. I was unacceptable. Unwanted.
And that’s when I heard it- a low guttural moan, a primitive, almost ancient moan that gave rise to a broken, wavering wail so long and low and piercing my body shivered and shook in fear, confusion. And then, I realized.
It was me.
The wailing was my own.
Unbearable pain consumed me, shook me. Devoured me. I couldn’t bear to belong to my own body any longer. I opened bottles and swallowed pills with long draws of cheap vodka. I eyed the shotgun propped in the shadows of the far corner. But, I knew it was of no use. He’d hidden the shells long ago. So, I swallowed pills and vodka. Quickly. Meticulously.
And I sobbed.
Each time before I’d thought it was the worst, that it couldn’t get any darker. Each time I knew I could bear no more. This right here was my limit. But, each following failing was worse yet, deeper, darker. More excruciating. I couldn’t hold any more. I just couldn’t. My shoulders were too narrow, my bones hollow.
More pills, more booze.
Something stirred inside. Could it be Hope? Another when?
I didn’t care. The whens and the Hope weren’t for me. Not me.
I swallowed again.
And then, there it was, there they were: my boys. My two sons. And I got angry. I got angry because they were a tether, a trap. An anchor to this life, a pin pushed through me tacking me to this miserable place.
“I hate you!” I screamed. “How could you do this to me?”
I wasn’t telling the man with piercing words. Nor was I telling the boys I birthed. I was telling God. I was telling God just as loud and full of contempt as I could. As full of ache as I could bear to part.
I threw the pills from my hand, whites and pinks and baby blues scuttling and skipping across the worn and rippled planks.
“Why do you do this to me?”
It wasn’t at all about this one thing, this one day. It was about all the days before, all the life before. It was about all the whens and what-ifs and maybes that failed me. It was about the Hope that failed me.
It was about Him failing me.
My sobs welled up from a pit so deep inside I thought my organs might spew right out with my wailing. I was sure my heart had already died and like a fetus ceased of life, soon it would pass right from me; a tender, beautiful thing cold to the touch. Finished. Done before it ever got started.
I cried and wailed, my body shaking, chest heaving. Sweat seeped up and poured out, flowed down the sides of my face, the low of my back. It fell in tiny drops from the ends of my hair. My nose dripped and ran over my lips, down my chin, onto my shirt and I didn’t care.
I just didn’t care.
Could a person crack like brittle ice and slide right out of their own skin like some half-boiled egg? I was there, discovering, yes, we could. I’d never known such despair, such gut-wrenching sadness. Such nothingness. Nothing then, nothing now. Nothing tomorrow. I swallowed another stinging gulp and eyed the pills lying about me, looked at the gun.
“Oh, God!” I screamed again. “God!”
If I yelled loud enough, maybe he’d hear me. Maybe, this time, He’d hear me.
“God! If you are there, if you’ve ever been there, help me. I can’t bear this. Please, help me.”
I rolled on that floor writhing in pain, misery. I could feel the seams of the rigid planks, the pills poking my hide, burying themselves in my knees as I pushed myself up.
“Oh, God, please. Help me. Do something. Please, do something before I do.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As dawn seeps into darkness slow yet sure, or a sheet billows down so light and graceful when shaken over a bed, so too something floated down over me. It was like a hush falling over a chaotic crowd. I felt it first on the top of my head, a distinct warmth, a certain touch. It caught me unaware yet sure and my sobbing eased, the wrenching shakes subsided. That warmth encased my skull, my face, my lips and I was calmed, soothed.
It continued on, seeping in, flowing down: my neck, shoulders, arms. My chest. There it caught my breath, pulled it out and filled the void with something I can only use short-reaching language to describe:
In that void where sorrow lived, Joy moved in. In that void where trauma lived, Peace moved in. In that void were hurt and fear tangled up tight, Healing moved in. My gut was full of something other, something different, something completely unknown and as I looked around I sensed myself encased in some sort of bubble, though my eyes saw nothing. But, at that very moment, I was apart, separate from that attic, that floor, separate from my very Self.
In that place of here yet not it came to me- was placed within me- and I understood. This feeling so full and overwhelming, so unknown to me was Love, pure, untainted, infinite Love. This was Love deeper and wider than the universe, than anything at all. This was the love of God on me, in me, encasing me. All around me, clinging like air, was Love.
And, I wept again.
I wept for an overwhelming goodness as pure and true as birth. I wept in awe at His presence, His touch. I wept in the revelation that He does exist, that He is good, and that He loves beyond comprehension, beyond words.
I cannot tell you how long I was there in that place, but in time the incredible, breath-taking peace and joy and love began to fade, pull back, like a blanket pulled away on a cold winter’s night. Immediately I was painfully aware and shocked at the retreat, like some kind of sobering addict.
Frantic, I begged, “No. Please. Don’t go. Stay.”
But it subsided nonetheless, and I was still there. Changed, but still there.
And, so was He.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I would like to tell you exactly of that goodness, describe it to you so you’ll know, too. But, I can’t. I cannot tell you no matter how hard I try, because there are no words in our vocabulary, no experiences here in our earthly lives to compare. No matter what I say, I’ll always fall short.
The love of God far surpasses any words, any experiences, any thing our feeble, human minds can conjure up or comprehend. But, it is here, Friend, all around us, at every moment, whether we see it or not, feel it or not. Heaven is waiting. God is waiting. He’s prepared many rooms, each filled with a Love and Goodness so pure and consuming, you just can’t imagine.
Perhaps a better, more accurate way to help you know is to tell you that Heaven (and therefore God Himself) is the absence of every negative thing. Understand? Every. Negative. Thing. There is no hurt, no scars, no fear, no worry. No painful memories. No regrets, no remorse.
Heaven is the absence of every bad, negative, dark, heavy, hurtful thing.
Heaven is the complete and total embodiment of every good, pure, beautiful, loving thing.
Heaven is God manifest, His Love, purity, and goodness so full and profound eternity can never consume it.
What led to the attic, and what’s transpired since compile His saving story in my life. By sharing here with you I hope you’ll catch a glimpse of God, too, and experience His loving touch, just as I did.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.