This has been a terrible week in Vermont news, involving brutal violence against young women, their mothers, and their children. I don’t usually write about violence and domesticity, for a very raw reason: I am one of those women who called the state police into her home, not once, not twice, but seven times in a period of days. But my life – and my daughters’ lives – did not end in bloodshed. Last night, I said goodnight to my daughters as they spoke to each other while lying in their beds, with their doors open across the hall. We live in a house where a Christmas cactus blooms profusely.
While I struggle with the usual junk – a too sparse income, a book I’m trying to sell – I consider myself unbelievably lucky. At certain junctures, our lives could literally diverge either one way or another, and sometimes those places may span out lengthily, over days or weeks, or sometimes nothing more than seconds: the driver that swerved and did not hit the child, the plane missed by moments that later fell from the sky.
Those intangibles, in so many ways, drive our lives: I remind myself, over and over, that it matters whether I see the world with bitterness or with gratitude. As my brother once impressed on me, there are things that cannot be undone. Violence is one of those things. In my life, the sage kindness of strangers pushed my life away from an abyss. That’s a debt I owe to the world, and I debt I intend to repay in largesse, one way or another, to a world that is sometimes beneficent and sometimes unimaginably brutal.
Most people are afraid of the dark. Literally when it comes to children, while many adults fear, above all, the darkness that is the unknown, the unseeable, the obscure. And yet the night in which distinctions and definitions cannot be readily made is the same night in which love is made, in which things merge, change, become enchanted, aroused, impregnated, possessed, released, renewed.
– Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things To Me