And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field,
they toil not; neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is,
and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you,
O ye of little faith?
Matthew 6:28-30 KJV
Triplets. Three times the blessings; three times the needs.
My son, the only boy of the set, had hand-me-downs galore from his four older brothers and didn't mind a bit wearing what had survived their tortures.
But for my daughters, there were no saved boxes of girly fashions for even one of them, let alone two. They had received some new clothes for Christmas, but my list of their needs outnumbered our resources: coats, shoes, tights, pants, shirts, nighties, and dresses.. I could whittle away at it - shop the sales, welcome friends' hand-me-downs, and hit the thrift stores, but it would still be a stretch.
Then, came The Moment. You know, the one that illuminates the past and defines the future? It struck like a typhoon, knocking me off my feet and leaving me gasping for breath and clawing for daylight. It was early January of the year 1999, and I had discovered my husband's betrayal that would compromise our future financial life and unravel, irrevocably, my already precarious sense of security.
As a school-my-own-children, stay-at-home mom with a high school education and seven kids ranging in age from seventeen to three, I was devastated. Disbelief, hurt, anger, fear, helplessness, defeat, each took their turn wracking my world.
Because the big picture was just too big to comprehend even if I had been allowed details, I focused on the minutiae of the life I did know - my list. How could I afford these things now when everything had changed? Where would the money come from? Who could I ask for help? I had never shared the true state of my marriage with anyone. How could I start with this information?
I spent the following dark hours pacing and fretting, and finally, near dawn, fell asleep on the couch.
The house was still, no one had yet risen when a gentle tapping on the door roused me. I opened it to find a woman I only vaguely recognized standing on my porch with two giant plastic trash bags, one in each hand.
"I hope I didn't wake you," she said, almost in a whisper. "I don't know if you remember me, but our boys were on the same baseball team last season. I was sorting through my daughter's clothes last night and for some reason I thought of you and wondered if your girls could use these things."
In my dazed and groggy state, I took them from her, thanked her, and watched her drive away. I couldn't remember her name (Linda, maybe?) and I had no idea how she knew where I lived.
I did remember visiting with her one afternoon in the stands. She and her husband had been blessed with one son, and though they had wanted more children, she hadn't become pregnant for many years. Then, just as their boy had reached adolescence, they'd been shocked to learn that they would be having another baby - a girl, one year older than my triplets. She had told me how much she loved having a daughter and was a little embarrassed to admit that she'd spoiled her with more clothes than any one little girl could ever wear.
One piece at a time, I took those clothes from the bags, realizing with growing amazement that each was an item on my list. Several pairs of hardly worn shoes, at least a dozen pair of tights, sweaters and jackets and coats, pants and tops, nighties and dresses, so many dresses. Everything in pristine condition. Everything two little girls could want or need.
I sat on the floor surrounded by a near-stranger's generosity and wept hot,roiling tears of fear and relief. In one moment, I had learned that I had no champion on this earth. In another, God had reminded me that even in my peril, He would provide.
My list had been His list, too.
"I do not need a website."
"I think you do."
"What for? My book isn't even finished yet."
"So what. Don't you wanna reserve 'your name dot whatever' while it's still out there? Or would you rather wait until it's snapped up, then whine about it?"
"I hate you."
"Yeah, but you know I'm right. Now, quit being a baby and get yourself a website."
That's how I talked myself into creating KarenGrace.net, and both of us are glad I did. (Are you surprised to learn I'm a Gemini?)
I played with the site for several weeks, finding just the right photos, deciding what categories to include, and promised myself I would never write a blog. What a time waster, I reasoned, carrying on about things that no one wants to read . Blah, blah, this, and blah, blah, that.
Until one night, deeper in thought than sleep, I wrote my first post, and when I hit 'publish,' I felt slightly less invisible. The possibility that a complete stranger might read my words and think, Me too! brought a measure of solace to my soul.
The thing is though, blogging turns out to be harder than it seems. If you're working it properly, you've got to keep it current, write about what's 'trending,' and care about 'search engine optimization.'
What a bunch of bother. I've got a book to write, darn it!
But, I've also got a divorce to finish, and as it wears into its third year, I've found that it's trying to leave its stain on a story so dear to me that I must hide it away for a time in order to protect it.
I was twelve years old when I first began writing my book. Back then, it was mostly in my head, or jotted on pages of my secret notebooks, waiting for a better day; a day when I believed I could write something worth reading.
Now, I find that I've allowed thoughts of my Someday-to-be-Ex-Husband to infiltrate my story. I've written him as the nasty next-door neighbor who smells of beer and sweat. The uncle who pathologically keeps every piece of mail in its original envelope. Or the town creeper who sidles up beside the hand-locked couple out for their evening stroll.
And I say to that, "No siree! I'm the creator of this world, and you're not welcome in it!"
So, I've granted my characters rest for yet another season. I'll miss them, but it's for their own good. They were in danger of telling the wrong story.
Meanwhile, I'll be blah, blah, blahging along, and I don't care a whit about optimization strategies, 'cause I've got my own thoughts trending.
Have you visited the Better After 50 website yet? It's informative and entertaining, giving voice to women (and a few men) as they enjoy, battle, conquer, and embrace the seasons of their lives.
I've shared my own experience on BA50 this month about how learning to ballroom dance redeemed a forgotten piece of myself. I hope you enjoy it and find something that causes your heart, and maybe even your feet, to fly.
I fired my divorce attorney last week; I should have done it sooner. I hired him on advice from a counselor at church, but from the beginning there were red flags, starting with his 'modern chaos.' office decor. On my first visit, I saw boxes haphazardly stacked around the room and paintings leaned against walls as though he was just moving in, or maybe out. Trouble was, that never changed, but because I myself am a messy housekeeper, I didn't judge too harshly.
As the months drug on - eighteen of them, to be exact - his lack of housekeeping became the least of my worries. Days and sometimes weeks would pass without my phone calls being returned, and as my court date drew near, I began to feel desperate, irrelevant, and even invisible.
Finally, four days before we were due in court, with no case prepared that I was aware of, self-preservation made me pick up the phone and hire another attorney, one who I hope will be my advocate. The following morning, the judge granted a postponement of our court date.
I am now living for January 3, 2014.
Update: January 13, 2014
Another postponement. I am now living for February 11, 2014.
Update April 13, 2014
Another postponement. I am now living for August 29, 2014
A friend once told me that money is coined life. Those words reverberated in my mind the day I learned how little the last 30 years of my life might be worth. As I drove home, I tried to console myself with the knowledge that having raised and schooled my seven children was its own reward, but the truth stung like my welling tears; I had traded my life for theirs, and there is little coin to be had in that bargain.
I can't say when I first began to suspect that I was invisible, only that I have no memory of not feeling so. As a child, I was timid and self-conscious, fearful of embarrassing my parents or myself, so I stayed as quiet as possible and was relieved to go unnoticed. By the time I was in my teenage years, I had become an attractive girl, fair of face and figure, and not being noticed was no longer an option,. But while my physical-self received attention to spare, my soul-self remained always in the shadows.
My boyfriend loved me, of that I was sure, but never more than he loved his own dreams. When I married my first husband, he saw only the girl he wanted me to be, choosing to believe that I was ready to be married, in spite of my words to the contrary. Our brief relationship ended in divorce, but produced my first born son. I remarried, and at once began to pay the price of what scripture calls, 'being unequally yoked.' God help us all.
Six children soon followed, and it became easier to believe that I was a woman of substance, not shadow. Their interests became my interests, and their dreams, mine. Through the years, I rode their coat tails into the future, pretending that I had a life of my own and had not merely co-opted theirs.
And now, after 30 long and lonely years, my lifeless marriage is mercifully coming to an end, and I realize I have never been more than wallpaper; wallpaper against which all things more important have been arranged. My children, now grown, have moved on to more interesting backdrops, and my husband, well, he never did see the beauty of my pattern, and after years spent without protection from life's elements, it has all but faded away.