Night on Sadness Mountain

My kids are very much like me. They have trouble hiding their pain, shock and sorrow. They either retreat to their bedroom–my son to his sketchbook , my daughter to her acoustic guitar and her minor chords or they just come right up to me and say, “I’m depressed.” I sigh and don’t know what to say. “It runs in the family.”  It would seem all natural and perfect except they aren’t teenagers. They are almost 8 and almost 10.  I only have two years till my son makes it to the first age I thought about doing myself in.

They have reason to be sad. 

Their grandfather is sick and they haven’t seen him since summer and they wake each day wondering how he is and if he’ll ever be all right again and I don’t have an answer for them that  contains enough optimism and hope being a realist by nature. I try. I can say, “let’s hope.” I can  say, “Let’s make sure he knows we love him.” That’s all I can do. I want to do more. The mothers on happy joy joy talk shows do things like pray and say things are god’s will. I can’t say those things with a straight face.

God. That old age old concept of rhyme and reason, of made in an image, of there’s a method to this madness. Recently our whole family lost a friend to god. He married a woman with only enough room for her insecurities, Jesus , and him. They lock their son out of their bedroom so they can have alone time. The mother quizzed my children to see if they were at grade level. Obnoxious. Stupid. A page in the how to land kids on a therapist’s couch in the future. And we are not godly enough for them.  She made my daughter feel stupid for learning multiplication a different way. I just fed her kid organic strawberries and hung out with him while they ignored him. But we aren’t godly enough, so that ends that. 

Our dog keeps running away. 

I don’t think he’s running from us; I think he wants to just join us and come with us where ever we go. We have a fenced yard and keep finding him on the other side of the fence. Did he watch the deer and learn to jump? Is he digging holes? He’s part terrier. He’s always been a disappointing dog. You try to play catch with him and he buries the ball.

These three sadnesses aren’t related. Oh but they are. No they’re not. Yes.

They seem to be affecting our mood which is overcast with a huge chance of rain.

My father in law has instilled a hope in me that I’ve never known. The last 11 years of my life are better for having known him, his calm, his acceptance. His grace. He’s made me find the artist in me again. He’s made me feel like a good mother. Honestly cannot articulate the sadness in me now. And the kids? My son describes in detail the habits of waking early and walking down to get coffee and croissants and walking back up to the house. The bliss of the repetition, side by side, sometimes holding hands. What perfect childhood is this? The kids are beside themselves with worry and I have no shield to offer.

And then there is this gaping hole in my world of friends. Do we always cut out who we are closest to? The person who offered us safe harbor? We the atheists were willing to learn to love the new wife; but the Christian woman did not have it in her heart to learn us. I suppose this is what mid-life crisis looks like? A ready made family, just add water and an erasure of memory and love.

Koda is back today. For now. No dog catchers, no mountain lions, no bears got him. He’s happy and in the yard though tied to the tree. Later he’ll be inside on the couch by the fire. Still does he realize that he had carte blanche on two great big yards and that now we don’t trust him? Should we just let him roam? Or do we keep him close because it’s the only thing we can control on Sadness Mountain?

The gods we cannot control. Our dominion is only small things. The kids know this intuitively–and they’ve vocalized it; they are less innocent now.


About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of short story ebook collection Sad Girls and Other Stories, and the audiobook Mary of the Chance Encounters, and the co-founder and lead playwright of Las Pachucas, theatrical troupe. She teaches creative writing and theatre in a California state prison.
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