If they would all just shut up I could get some things done around here. As precious and fumbling as they are, my favorite time is when they are all asleep. All day long it’s; I need help, I need answers, I need more time, I need money. Always with the money. When they sleep is when I can see their problems with out the words. I can feel their exhaustion, I can feel the anxiety of not yet being sure of what they want but knowing they need something. They always need something. Is that my fault? I thought I gave them everything, gave them their lives, but was that ever going to be enough?
“I just want a little bit of quiet.” It was a small, but strong voice that grabbed my attention. She was in the bathroom, a modest little thing with hardly any space but enough to do the necessaries. Her hands gripped the sides of the sink and she didn’t look up. Her plea was a desperate one, she already knew that, she didn’t need to look up and see her heavy eyes and the slump of her over loaded shoulders. I peaked into the next room. Three little children, in various stages of childhood asleep in their beds, well, almost. A toddler kicked his covers off and rolled onto his back, grabbing for his feet. I swept the room with sleep and turned back to the woman. Her head was tilted toward the room with the children. Hearing nothing she turned the water on and splashed her face. Looking into the mirror she sighed.
Better than most nights. There might have been a hint of resentment in that thought. She picked up her phone and flipped through the days messages. I catalogued them all before she set it down seconds later. Not the best of days. Her thoughts were a tapestry, a dozen scenarios and a thousand possible solutions, all of witch muddied the waters of an already difficult life.
“I get it,” I said, into the quiet.
“Well,” she said aloud as she went to turn on the shower, “at least I’m not God.”
I had to laugh. She only had three bottomless pits of questions that required answers, I was avalanching toward eight billion. She giggled as she tested the water and I thought I better give her a moment of real silence. The children now peacefully asleep in their beds were dreaming of their days and their possibilities, and sorting through questions they would ask me someday. The bed that was stuffed into the corner of the room held the woman’s oldest child, a girl, having a nightmare. She was chasing a bird with rainbow feathers. I understood the anxiety. How would life ever be as beautiful if she couldn’t catch that bird?
Now, listen, I do my best not to intervene. I let the people do what they want. Some of them learn, some of them suffer because of others, and some of them just suffer. However this is my world. I am the laws of physics. I brushed her little forehead and watched as the nightmare moved toward a dream. She stopped chasing the bird, she and her two little brothers were standing at the base of a tree with an enormous tree house nestled in its branches. The immediate excitement and joy coming off her was palpable.
The woman in the shower went through waves of emotion, with pictures and words overlapping. A man and a woman kissing, and the betrayal that went with it. She didn’t know who she hated more, the man or the woman. She saw her children’s devastated faces as she gave them the news, all by herself. She was trembling in spite of the hot water. I adjusted the temperature and in full disclosure, I adjusted the physics, just here in this tiny little bathroom. As the water soothed the tension in her shoulders and at the base of her spine I watched as my meddling made her life better. A little.
“I mean, in the long run, what does it matter if things go according to plan?” I asked aloud. She straightened herself out of the massage and thought. I guess the kids only have me now. And that has to be enough.
I never thought I’d have to do this alone. I am all they have. All of me has to be enough for them.
“It is. And you don’t know the future.” I took a peak into her future. It was sweet, strong, hard earned, and as bright as the bird in her daughters dreams. I gave her a glimpse; her youngest sons graduation, her oldest daughter being walked down the aisle. There was pain along the way, struggle and strife, like almost everyone. But she needed the quiet moments, the ones that had no words but were so full of emotion you could paint, carve, sing, or write a magnum opus.
She remained silent as she washed herself. I took some extra with it. Just some, it’s not on me to guide each individual through the rigors of being alive, but I am allowed, if I want. I took her anxiety and her fears. They would pile on again and again in the coming days and years, but tonight would be a night of peace. Silence.
I listened to her deep breaths and watched as her thoughts turned mostly to colors, deep blues and grays, bright greens, like a stormy day when the sun peaks from behind the clouds and lights up the trees against the almost spent clouds. She suddenly realized how exhausted she was.
The silence of her troubles allowed her brain to drop into immediate sleep the moment her eyes closed. She would sleep well for at least a few nights before the fears kicked in again. And she would always remember that shower.
I heard her the next morning, as she greeted a friend at work.
“Good morning.” Her voice was bright and clear.
“Hey,” there was a note of surprise in her friend, “You look great.”
“Thank you. I had the most amazing shower last night. Everyone slept through the night, me included. And I have decided not to murder my ex. So things are looking up.”
I left them laughing.