Saturday, October 11, 2008

rollercoaster

it is a quiet morning on beacon street, at last. i am cradling the first cup of coffee, willie is curled up next to me, and i'm thinking about lighting a fire to take the edge off the bit of chill we are both clearly feeling. today will be about laundry and cleaning and groceries, and somewhere in between a good long meditation. i have a few days to reflect, relax, regenerate. And I need 'em, badly.

yesterday--wow. such a rollercoaster of a day, and what a way to end a very long stretch of ten work days in a row. connecticut! it feels like that case has been sitting for 3 years (it was actually one year, five months) and when we received the call from Mary B. telling us the judgment would be announced at 11:30 yesterday morning, the office was just...buzzing. electric. we spent the morning vacillating between hope and despair, all of us understanding the enormous implications this decision would have on the work we are doing here in Maine.

and so at 11:15, matt and i sat at our desks, went to the CT Supreme Court website, and hit "refresh", obsessively, for the next 15 minutes. at exactly 11:30, matt screamed "OH MY GOD IT'S UP" and then it was just, well, utter chaos. betsy and matt and half our organizing staff, crowding around my desk as i frantically scrolled down 85 pages of a PDF file trying to translate legalese and find that one line that would tell us whether CT was to become the third state in the country to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. what a scene. it took us about 3 minutes to figure it out, and even then, we didn't celebrate until the call came from our friends at GLAD to tell us we had won. and then...utter joy. laughter. high fives. tears.

we had nothing to do with this victory, of course. but we lived through the last excruciating 17 months with our friends who were directly responsible. and we all knew how profoundly this decision would impact US. and california (hopefully). and new england. everywhere. hurray for the team at GLAD, who are my absolute heroes and heroines, hurray for the courageous couples who were part of the court case, hurray for the wisdom of those judges. and most especially, hurray for the thousands of same-sex couples in connecticut who can now enjoy that most wonderful freedom to marry. it was a joy to be at work yesterday. our organizers called every one of the 90-something poll captains we've recruited for election day to share the good news, and to say "thank you. because of your help, we will celebrate in maine someday too." wow. great freaking day, indeed.

and then...last night. i had dinner with my mom and dad, and then we drove to maine med to visit gracie, who was hospitalized yesterday. she will spend four or five days there, and then she will hopefully go home to spend the rest of her days in shapleigh. i'd not seen her in three weeks, and the difference was stunning. she is so...small. weak, exhausted. you must be within inches of her to hear her voice. it was nearly impossible to take, yet i know in my heart that our visit meant the world to her. when i leaned over to kiss her goodnight, our eyes connected and i understood that, completely.

as i walked out of her room, i turned for one moment to see my mother crawl into the hospital bed and wrap her arms around gracie. i stood there, frozen, unable to take my eyes away from this tiny glimpse of an extraordinary friendship. they simply lay there, quiet, no words, not even tears. my mother whispered something to her, i do not know what, and gracie whispered something back. and then my mother kissed gracie's tiny, bald head, said 'i love you'. stood, wrapped and tucked in the blankets around her dear friend. watched gracie fall asleep within seconds. and then, because i simply could not bear it for another second, i turned, heart heavy, eyes filled, and walked away.

it was one of those moments that sears through your heart--i am always amazed that heartache is just that--a physical, palpable pain in the chest, and in the lungs. and yet it was also beautiful to see, my mother, so strong, so *present*, so completely available for her friend, and gracie, so willing to let her in. this different kind of love between women, a love that has lasted more than 50 years, the most profound and lovely portrait of friendship.

my mother continues to teach me new things, every day. how lucky i am.

4 comments:

allison said...

jesus.

rollercoaster was a perfect title for this post. you had me all over the place--just like yesterday must have been for you.

i am picking up the telephone, right this minute. and calling my mother. and then my best friend in arizona. i'm gonna tell them both how much i love them.

hugs,
allison

Dawn on MDI said...

wow. Up and down and all around, leaving me with tears in my eyes. well done. You have grasped the heart of it all and squeezed out every drop.

michael said...

your writing is so generous. you share with us the way you see and feel the world, you let us inside to intimate places with a willingness that is both surprising and breathtaking.

in all of our differences, person to person, we can never deny that one thing we have in common--our mortality. we will all have our gracies. by sharing what is beautiful, even in life's most excruciatingly difficult moments, you bring alive that notion that love is to be savored and appreciated.

thank you enny, for never being too guarded to let us all inside your world.

love you,
michael

Jenna said...

Wow, I can't agree more with allison, Dawn and Michael. Its hard to type this with the sobs you left me with.
hugs,
Jenna