Friday, August 19, 2011

Prattle Chatter, Owl Pellets and Meditation

Chatter with 10 year olds is like a constant ocean tide that we wade through every day. Often the tide rises and it gets to be a bit much and I end up begging them (well, especially Riley, since he talks, always, as long as he's awake) to 'be quiet', even to 'shut up for a while!'

Bear with me here, this may get long.

I was writing to my friend Karen this morning. Her brother passed on a week and a half ago, too young, from cancer. While we were driving back from LA and dealing with a broken transmission over the Grapevine, Karen was having to deal with all the funeral and burial arrangements and paperwork and craziness that happens when someone in your family dies. Her brother has 2 children, a nine-year old boy and a little toddler girl. I wasn't very close to her brother, but Karen is family, so he was family of family, if that makes any sense. It's going to be very hard for his family for a long time, and I wish there was more I could do. There's not much, it feels like. I was thinking about the boy, though. He's really into Magic the Gathering, played it with his dad, loves the game. Now that's something I know about, since Paul introduced our boys to it and they play it and Riley in particular goes through periods when he is completely obsessed with it. Karen mentioned that her nephew was obsessed with Magic even during all that's been going on and of course it made me think about my guys and how they deal with things.
Boys. They chatter, they prattle. I hear that girls do that even more, but in different ways. Boys talk a lot, but rarely about the really big things. They talk of games, superheroes, movies, tv shows, stuff going on at school, friends. They can talk on for hours about stuff. Just, you know, stuff, mom. I frequently sit with the guys at bedtime and we sometimes read a book together, or we tell stories, or we just talk. And the most interesting things come out within the chatter. I was telling Karen that boys talk around things, by the edges, underneath whatever they're ostensibly talking about. They sneak the big stuff in there under the radar and it's easy to miss if you're tired and distracted and not listening closely.

I guess I think of boytalk like owl pellets. I have several owl pellets, those mud balls that owls puke up from their gullets periodically to get rid of bones and fur and such. They're sitting on my kitchen counter. Hey, I know, but I have 10 year old boys and owl pellets a hecka cool, actually. If you open up the owl pellets and sort through them you can figure out what that owl ate and all sorts of interesting info. Ooh, this one ate a mouse; here look, the skull is almost intact and there's brown fur too... How do you think he caught the mouse, mom? Did the mouse suffer when he died? Was he afraid?
So I suggested to Karen that if she can manage it, she try to listen to her nephew's chatter, even especially the stuff that seems trivial. Odds are nobody at home has the bandwidth right now to listen to that boy's chatter, and he may end up not talking much at all, especially if it goes on too long with nobody to listen to him, to find him interesting and worth the attention. Who will pick up on the big stuff that gets snuck in around the edges, like the bones in the owl pellet?


I was over at Michealle's last night, with the wonderful friends who helped me put together my portfolio a few weeks back. We were talking about what Michealle had been learning at a great, intense workshop she'd been going to, and she led us in a guided meditation, to help us become more aware of our breathing. Breathing in, down, through and out, letting go of things, cleansing out. All good. Michealle gently told us to breathe in, bring the breath deep down past the chest and down, deep into the belly, let it dissipate and flow out, then around and back out. And I couldn't do it, the breath catching right at my chest, hung up and shallow, like it was caught by a web of strands, tough and stringy.

Think of a memory, her voice said, and I was laying on the bed with a towel clenched in my teeth to keep myself from screaming with the pain while Paul had to push a six-inch wooden q-tip with a gauze bandage around it down deep into my chest to fill the surgery site there, so it could heal gradually, slowly, over several months with twice-daily bandage changes, healing from the inside out. Breathe in, she said gently. Caught in a web there, like scar tissue, a little bit of breath could leak like smoke down and around, but not much. Five years, Karen had told me. The doctors told her brother that his cancer must have been there for at least five years before they found out about it and by then. Deep breath. I went off the Tamoxifen anti-cancer drug after five years, just a few months ago. It was a bit over five years ago that I had the surgery and that long healing and then the radiation and more healing. We didn't get a clean margin around the cancer tissue, they said, so you need radiation. That should get it. Five years clean is what we aim for, they said. Five years.

Did the mouse suffer, mom? Was he afraid?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Beckett. And as a mother of a boy, yes and yes.