I’m a middle child.
And there were times where I straight up hated being in the middle when I was growing up.
I wasn’t old enough to be the one proudly trumpeting, “mom put me in charge!” over the unfolding chaos or even the television remote. Then at age seven, I became a reluctant big sister, and was promptly cast aside to make way for the “runt” of the litter (sorry, little sister.)
I had to vacate my mom’s lap, and share her affections with the tiny thing that pooped and shrieked seemingly nonstop. I had no authority, or so I was reminded of by my older “mom said so!” sister, and I didn’t get the luxury of being babied because, “mommy can’t right now.”
It was not the tops.
The middle is dangerous ground.
Lukewarm bathwater. The middle seat on an airplane. You get the idea.
Nobody likes the middle. Save for the middle of a tootsie pop or Oreos. When it comes to food, the center can hold delicious surprises if we just keep at it. But in the context of adulting and life? No one really likes the middle. Being in the middle means being in transition.
And people like the idea of transition possibly even less than they do the middle.
I’m in the middle right now.
I’m the woman in labor, fighting the terror in her body, willing herself not to push because it isn’t time yet. Breathe it out. Just wait for the release. Let what’s going to happen happen. I can’t see that light at the end of the tunnel through the pain and disenchantment. It’s real. The fear. All of it.
Guys, I am so scared.
I am learning a new way to be. A new way to see things. Even though I know that things really aren’t all that different than they were before. What was true yesterday is going to be truth tomorrow even if my insides have been eviscerated. My dad is gone. I miss him so, so much. But his love is as true today as it was when he was here, in the body, still with me. What’s different now is that he’s gone.
What’s different after all that is me.
It’s like the aftermath of a comet striking the Earth. A volcanic eruption. A raging wildfire. The Earth is not even settled yet from the harsh, shattering, indiscriminate destruction. Because it’s not time. It’s not time to be okay.
There isn’t release. Not yet.
While I’m still sorting through the rubble North is still North, but it’s just not time to move on yet.
When we bought our old house, we had the backyard tilled and grated. There was so much junk back there that we filled an entire rolloff dumpster and still had some left over.
That was more than eight years ago.
Occasionally, on warm days when we are enjoying barefoot afternoons, we notice new remnants and relics poking through the dirt. Glass. Bolts and screws. Small bottles. Rusted pieces of copper even.
The Earth is purging itself slowly as feet disturb the dirt, as the rains wash away more soil. It’s cleansing itself.
My children see hidden treasures when they find something new to explore with a magnifying glass and I have to strain to see it through their eyes. I see something that was once useful, but not anymore. Something we don’t need to keep and that should committed to the trash can for fear of tetanus.
Sometimes, though, we find something worth saving.
We separate the useless from the useful, the things worth saving from the things we don’t need anymore. It’s this slow process, this waiting for something to emerge. You clean what you can the best you can, and still, next year when the spring rains return, more that’s hidden will be revealed. And we will sort.
Now is the time for sorting. And remembering. And for hurting.
It’s the middle.
It’s terrifying. It’s real.
I’m worried that nothing good will ever come out of me again. When will I remember who, and what I am?
We are here now. In the aftermath. And we know that brokenness will bring new life.
It’s just not time for that.