This was Chip's gift to me: an away place, a place detatched from memory, a place to think, a place to be quiet.
I don't know why exactly, but there is something bruised deep inside of me. It's like those mystery bruises that show up on my shins from time to time: unbidden and unremembered, I'm only aware of them later when I go to kneel down in front of Alice --- to tie her shoes or straighten a hair ribbon --- and as my knees hit the floor there is a sharp stab of pain, the blossom of purple staring quietly from my skin.
A soul bruise of unknown origin. Invisible, but felt at odd times - most especially when I'm reaching into that place to share something of meaning here. The aching pain, the stab of tenderness. It's why I shy off, time and again, from writing anything real.
I talk about our days, skirting the abyss with photos of Bean. Her face is a star, the winking silver drawing my mind away from anything that stings.
And Chip: my confidant, my best friend, my protector and husband. He brought me to this place as a gift. Even when I couldn't find words to tell him about the bruise, he noticed my shift in demeanor, how a smile doesn't stay long on my face, how I spend extended moments in the studio, how I say that I keep hoping for peace.
It wasn't long after I told him that I was glad I couldn't hurt a sewing machine - that I couldn't say the wrong thing or misunderstand a piece of fabric; it wasn't much later that he told me he was going to Lake Chelan and wanted us to come with him. A short trip, he said, but a beautiful one. A little vacation, he offered, for quiet thinking.
So that's what it is. And that's what I've done.
There's a bruised and painful place inside of me. It's tender near my heart; so tender I can't quite face it, can't put my fingers on that place for fear that I will pass out from the pain.
When Alice hit her head a few weeks ago, the bump rose on her forehead: angry red and deep purple. In the days that followed, she watched the geography of her face change and kept asking me about it. I gave her the name for it: bruise, just a bruise, honey. And I promised she could watch it go away if she gave it enough time. The purple mark turned dusky gray and yellow: so ugly she worried that it was mad at her. But in another week, and then two, and then three--- it faded. The rise of skin, the smudge of injury: gone. Only her perfect ivory skin in its place. I caught her touching the place just yesterday. She put her fingers over the spot and made faces at me in the bathroom mirror. Look Mommy! It's gone! It was just a bruise- and now it's gone.
Which is what I tell myself now: just a bruise. I will give it time, some space, an occasional viewing in the mirror. Just a bruise. In no time, I'll be just fine.