sewing buttons

Sometimes it’s the only thing a mother can do …in the silence that ensues after a heart is ripped open,  after the shockwaves of personal trauma subside,  and the door locks that would let you inside to hold the sobs that rack your child’s broken body (and they’re always and forever your child in your heart). Down the hall, you lie foolishly in your own bed, knowing rest won’t be yours tonight. You keep hearing the moans. Whether or not they’re still real, they echo within, the pain they released caught in the cavern of your heart for safekeeping. At least you can hold that for him.  Besides, drifting to sleep only brings with it nightmares, which awaken both you and your mate with the ferocity of the grief you absorbed.  

You feel. 

You want him to know that you’re there, but you need to honor his grief, give it space, stay out of its way.  ‘Nothing can fix this’ he’d screamed when you offered ‘I’m sorry’. ‘I love you’ are empty words to him now.  

So you search for the missing buttons …the ones flung across the room when he tore his shirt from his chest. 

What is it about this universal human reaction during periods of intense grief?  What is it that the body needs to express… a chest laid bare to reflect the heart likewise ripped open, the external tearing a symbol of internal fracture , a psychological release of pent-up anguish that explodes through and out of the body, some need to destroy when one feels destroyed?  

You find them.  One.  Two.  Three.  Scattered across the cold ceramic tile, across from where he’d lain hugging the pillow hard to his chest, staunching the flow, screaming his ‘no’s’.  You pick them up prayerfully. It’s all you can do-  all he will let you offer today, though you’ve gone to the market to stock the pantry just in case he decides to eat what you tender, feeling guilty that you hadn’t adequately stocked it the day before.

The buttons are small, navy, four cornered inside their roundness.  You don’t even know what that means;  there are no words for the work of your hands.  You know only that this is your work for today, to sew these three buttons back into place. To mend what you can.  To moisten the thread with your lips, with care tie the knots, fold neatly the garment , and lie it atop the chest by his door.  

His world torn asunder.  Three buttons, at least, back in place.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Traildancer
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 13:05:44

    You are right that are no words for the work of your hands…but it is a gesture to mend his heart.

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  2. Carolyn
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 13:07:55

    Vicki, your poignant experience reminds me of my assertion in our discussion on Thursday that unconditional love may be a standard too high for us humans to achieve. Yet here it is in your strong, loving response to your child’s pain. A mother’s love may be as close as we can get to the image of God as Unconditional Love.

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