Very plainly, the power was out. My row house was in the dark. Day one, we barbecued all the food that would spoil. Day two we did our best to clean the fridge of remaining items. Day three, everyone (myself included) melted down. Our affinity for dark and family time did not quite last three days. Now, it pleases me to say that the restore occurred and we are back in the light and all its convenience.
In the meantime though, there were internal as well as external struggles. Internally, i beat myself up for not caring for the issue before it was a significant problem. Externally i yelled like the Little Red Hen from one of my favorite books when i was a wee lass. ("Who will help?" to which the answer is, "Not i.")
Also, during this time, i had a friend reach out to me with that reciprocity of human relationships thing sharing some unsettling news. After speaking to me, she said very simply, "If you can keep breathing, then so can i."
Next up was one of my favorite people in the world who is ninety-five years old and still gets up to walk every day, caring for things that i find daunting, fifty years her junior. And i thought to myself, if you can keep breathing, so can i.
Now it seems a pretty severe thing to think about not breathing any longer, but honestly, with the exposure of writing in a row house, there is the very real feeling i go through of just giving up and not being the burden any longer - not being strong enough to get through one more day of darkness. And then in the rarest of place and space, someone shines enough light that i can see that the darkness will not last and i do not have to be in it alone.
Today i was fortunate enough to attend a benefit luncheon for people struggling to light their own homes in all that it means literally and metaphorically. Again with the stories i heard, i thought if they can keep breathing, so can i.
It is no secret that i suffer from bipolar disorder. Recently i saw a video with the words, "At least you..." The video expressed very simply i'm stuck, i'm in a hole, and i feel like poop. And somewhere in the video it demands never ever say to a person struggling with the grief of depression, "At least you...," because the darkness in which they suffer is enough. There never needs to be the additional strain that their darkness is not bleak enough.
But still i think about the Little Red Hen. She planted the wheat and harvested the wheat, milled it into flour and baked it into bread. When it was time to eat the bread, she had helpers. The other stuff had everyone in her life saying, "i cannot help you."
i realize that the Little Red Hen does the work because no one else will and it must be done. She wants it done, so she does it. And when it is time to break bread, she offers the final thing that needs to be done. She offers the nourishment. She does say, "No, no, no... i did the work, so i get all the bread." But this just illustrates the value that she places on her time. It also illustrates her need to have others in her life. And she never lost faith that someone would be willing to help her - that someone would be the small bit of light in her darkness even though no one helped her - ever.
Well, if that Little Red Hen can keep breathing, then so can i.