His eyes were so blue in my dream, last night, when he paid me a rare visit. I waved at him, trying to get his attention, until our eyes locked and my heart raced to greet him, at the same time holding back like a shy little girl whose dad has been away for a long while. He held my hand as we walked and I couldn't stop staring into those eyes.
"Why are they so blue, Papa?"
"Things are as they were meant to be where I'm at," he replied. "They never could reach the fullness of their true color while I was here." And now, as if peering into the depths of time, I leaned forward, wanting to fall head first into those eyes.
Yes, I remember. His eyes were more silver blue here. My ears strained for his voice, but in dreams, the mouths are moving while the fuzzy recording of my memory fills in the gap.
I woke to static, to thoughts of Ricardo's cousin Paloma, the one riddled through with cancer, unable to talk or eat. Hoping this wasn't a cryptic message preceding a phone call from Mexico.
I went to work and passed by a coworker wearing a mask of pain. She's been wearing it for the past few days, a dam waiting to burst, and yet I know she doesn't want to. I feel sorrow radiating from her as we cross paths to and fro in the store, and I am speechless.
At the end of my shift I see her, sitting alone at a table. I approach her, tentative, and watch as the carefully held tears begin to spill. She spills sadness down her face, her lips trembling as she talks. Her son, younger than I, practically lives in the hospital now, his body full of cancer. I watch helpless, wanting to catch those tears as they fall, but my ears catch her words instead - and all the words she dares not speak. I see some of me in her, the me that existed before Papa died, so afraid to let anyone witness my pain. I kept tears locked up for years, thinking I was alluding them altogether when really I was only stuffing them in the closet until it burst, unhinged.
And now, my eyes are old plumbing, leaky faucets I couldn't turn off if I wanted to. And I think they're cleaner this way, these old pipe eyes, purging all that emotion before it builds up to erosion of the heart. But it's terrifying when it all comes unhinged. When we surrender to the flood, the force of it dragging us along, and we're not sure where we'll end up or if we'll even be intact when we get there. It's easier, safer, in some ways, to keep the faucet turned off. Until it blows, that is.
I watch her, this beautiful woman whose heart is dropping in pieces around me, and frustration mounts inside. I can do next to nothing to help her. There are no words to ease her pain. No hug or sweet distraction to whisk it all away. It's not until I'm walking away from her that it hits - I want to be God to her. To send her son home from the hospital with a colon and two healthy kidneys, a cancer-free body, no longer shriveled in size. I want to hold her heart together so it doesn't shatter in pieces. And I want Paloma to get out of bed, to play with her young son, to cuddle her husband, to find her voice again and her body what a healthy thirty-something woman should be. Like so many humans across the pages of time, I want there to be no. more. suffering. Now.
I loathe cancer, wish to hack it into pieces with a slew of expletives, cast it in the fires of Mordor, like Frodo destroyed the ring. But I am not God - or Frodo - and I cannot destroy cancer.
But I can pray. And that's no small thing, though it may be that nothing on the surface or even deep below may seem to change and hearts continue to shatter around me. I will pray because I know no other way; because in these pockets of grief and cancer and failing bodies and shattered hearts, God resides. It's no Band-Aid, for sure - it's pure mystery. And this - "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" - is no easy blessing to swallow. It goes down heavy in the stomach, until somewhere far, far down, after it's been digested and distributed throughout the body, it nourishes weary souls.
When it comes to easing suffering, I'm so far beyond my abilities, but completely swallowed up in God's, like the endless blue of Papa's eyes.