The first sacrifice was swearing out motherhood in hopes of finding someone, anyone for God's sake, to take on a single mother of two. The second sacrifice was giving up her confidence and self worth, for men who were willing to take on the challenge. Men who I would have rather thrown stones at, while buried up to their neck in sand, or whom might have wanted to touch me inappropriately if left alone with them for too long. Sure, there was one guy worth the time and effort, but he was not the brightest Cock in the Hen house. His marriage to my mother ended with her chasing him out of the house with a butcher knife, because he had abruptly divorced her while long hauling to someplace in Texas. He had met a wealthy woman who wanted him all to herself, promising money and fine cars in return for his heart. His plan was to marry her, take her money and then come back to my mother. Sounded good on paper, but he might have explained himself first, before authenticating things for his sugar-mama.
My mother cried a lot of tears and prayed and prayed through many more tears, asking life's questions of Why Me? What am I doing wrong. LORD? Why have you forsaken me? As I grew older, her determination also grew more emphatic, more determined to prove "them" all wrong and completely misplaced in that her choice in men never changed, just her methods. And with each marriage came a new set of misbegotten failures that drove her closer and closer into that niche that is all to common in the mid-south, where you come to a point in your life and say to yourself, "I can climb no higher. I can drive no further. I can no longer see the light at the end of my tunnel." and just give in to the flood. A place where regret festers inside of you until you grow old and complacent and angry at the slightest thing. This is also the place where "plain sight" becomes a milky film across your cornea, like a cataract that causes you permanent blindness. Where you are smiling in the mirror each morning, but the sad sack in the mirror chooses to grimace back instead. This is the purgatory of your human existence. The place souls go to die of mind and body, but relish in spirit because the spirit is the only thing that remains within you.
The spirit. Many refer to this as the holy spirit, but I beg to differ, for if this personal self-loathing pit of despair is holy in any way, then someone direct me to the nearest hell hole, because this place reeks of self-hate under the guise of God washing away your depressive bi-polar stepping stones. The last resort before said person either cracks under the pressure of fear and loathing, or snaps and sprays a crowd of campers in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit with his or her righteous semi-automatic rifle. For now, I think my mother is harmless, but that could change at any moment. All she needs is the right nudge to set her pilot light aflame, either for good or total chaos. Sadly the latter is more likely, because she has had plenty of opportunity to make good of herself and chose to give herself to a stranger instead, which kind of brings this story back to the beginning for her. A circular flashback to illustrate one of the nagging notches in my belt of doubt.
Which brings me back to myself and my foray into finding My God. I might not have been directly hampered with all of the emotional letdown that my mother endured, but I was collateral damage and sometimes I wonder if collateral damage can more often than not, exceed the impact of the blow itself. I was just a kid who heard things or seen some things when no one thought I was looking, and most time it faded as I quickly found another mode of distraction. Little did I know that these bits of worry had lasting effects on me as I grew older, otherwise I would have consulted with my Yoda doll or any number of imaginary people between the ages of 5 through 12*. Surely one of them was a brain in psychology who could have offered some insight on the effects my mother's emotional failures would have on me as a Catholic. Nonetheless, I was cool without my biological father and the failed attempts by eight others who came after him...literally.
My one and only parent, the keeper of my well being and growth as a young boy, into a young man and eventually into the father I am now, was an absolute flake with no desire to be anything more than what she thought she could be, which, in a longsighted view, was an exclusive prostitute to whoever wanted to pay her for her services. And I know that sounds harsh, but the truth is an ugly bastard child who was raised by his grandmother and uncle while his mother worked at gas stations and hotels and at snaring men in her free time. A question: If my life was meant to be a constant struggle and my existence of no importance to anyone other than those people whose lives I ruin by occupying the same space as them, why was I too not aborted? Why does God want me here? Was I meant to be the sacrificial lamb to the child who did not get a chance to live before me? You see, these questions pop up now and again because when I push my mother to the edge, she reminds me how I am only here because she killed a fetus before me. As though my birth was her retribution and her offering to the LORD. "Here, thy God. Take this child as forgiveness for the life I took from you."
I had wondered about His Plan most of my life, until the day I brought life into the world myself. A Daughter, a bundle of joy that lights the face of all who see her. Even my uncle and mother, who have given up life and parade around like zombies without direction, instantly lite up in smiles and laughter whenever she is around. A face with the most amazing healing ability with just one little giggle. On my worse day, I can come home and plop onto the sofa and wish for something blunt and heavy to smash me on the head, when she runs into the room, arms wide, face wrinkled with the best smile, screaming jubilee as she grabs hold of my neck and squeezes it with her little hands, and then plants a quick little kiss onto my lips.
"Hello baby-girl." I will say to her.
And nothing else matters in the world, except those moments we share together on the couch, be it a half hour episode of "The Wiggles" or just staring at the info screen with the underwater theme. Then I start to piece together the meaning of sacrifice. God's Plan always seems to find its way back to that sacred place where we all store our faith, no matter how long the void seemed to exist. We just have to look for it. Not constantly, because we will end up in that personal purgatory I mentioned earlier, but aware enough to know that when God reaches out to you and taps you on the shoulder and whispers to you with his mysterious ways "I did that." ...you will know it's Him calling and not another imaginary friend from your past.
And yet, my own faith continues to subside and part way for the logical side of my being, the constant questioning that makes me the monkey thrown out from the rest of the shit flinging colony because I wonder to myself most times, is there really a God? If I were to treat my thoughts like a pie chart, I would say I am mostly 80% in the wedge marked "Believes in God" 10% in the slice that says "Total Bullshit" and 10% in the piece that states "I don't know, but there sure as hell better be." Here is a graphical representation of my waning jittery faith. It's pretty big, but what do you expect with faith?
And thus my journey begins.