Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Rest of the Story

I began each school day in elementary basically the same. I woke before anyone else in my family--mom, dad, and sister--partly because I wanted to use our only bathroom first and partly because I was a an early riser. (Now my early rising has become a necessary family routine for reasons related to motherhood--and wanting to use the bathroom to myself. OK, some things don't change.)

As soon as my parents emerged from their bedroom, the kitchen radio began blaring whatever was airing on KOEL-AM. My morning routine followed the choreography of KOEL's morning show-- weather, farm market reports, school lunch menus, area announcements. Each element helped me time my daily preparations without the need to look at a clock. My morning clock was the same as the station's.

When it was time for the morning announcer to play a set of songs, I knew I needed to be eating breakfast. I also knew I needed to have my teeth brushed before the last song finished. That's when the station ID would play to mark the top of the hour and the start of Paul Harvey's five-minute show. I glided through my morning with little need to interact with other family members other than to move to one side of the bathroom sink if asked or to pass a cereal box upon request.

When I was hitting my marks on pace, I was able to finish in time to stand by our front door and listen to Paul Harvey's entire show, holding my school bag that I'd packed the night before and placed by the door. However, if I was running behind in my morning preparations, I knew I had those five-minutes to catch up. Either way, right at 8:05 a.m., Paul Harvey would bid me "Good Day!" and I'd start walking to school. Using his cue allowed me to arrive on time every day. And to me "on time" meant as soon as the elementary's doors opened. Whenever I arrived early enough to be part of the group waiting for the teacher who unlocked the front doors, I knew the day held great promise. It truly might be a "good day!"

When I was a young girl, the start to each of my days had a certain ritualistic poetry to it. Yet the end of those days--not so much. Or at least I can't remember the same type of beautifully steadfast ritual. I remember I liked to read books before falling asleep; and that sometimes I'd choose to turn off the lights, put on a favorite LP, set the volume to a nearly imperceptible sound level, and then attempt to drift into slumber before the fifth and final cut of Side One ended. Still, in elementary, the key to ending my days well seemed to be connected to a smooth transition into the next "good day."

I lived for the start of yet another "good day."

And they were--by and large--incredibly wonderful days with good starts and smooth finishes.

Involuntary Joy is off to a good start, I think. In fact in a literary sense, the book itself has a good start. I've always thought of the book's first section as almost a story unto itself. I'm still awe-filled when realizing this section--the first third of the book--only covers two weeks of my life. Then, as our story--my story--unfolds, the pace changes. As I interpret it, we find our footing as a family in the middle section, while I find my footing as a mom in the book's last section. Then the book's storyline ends.

Many kind people have shared positive feelings about Involuntary Joy and then expressed a desire for the story to continue. They want more. Trouble is: I'm living the more. The rest of the story isn't told yet. Not only that, it probably won't have the intensity (I hope not!) or the raw intimacy of those earliest days. Maybe people won't even find that part of my story the least bit interesting.

You see, here's the thing: Stross' birth was a good day. It truly was. Not anything like the morning-ritual good days of my past, but a good holy day. I don't think I'll ever feel as close to God as I did that day. Not in the same way, at least. Perhaps I believe that because I fear the circumstances that would bring that type of divine intimacy my way again. Or perhaps I simply want to reserve that level of intimacy for that holy moment alone--the moment I became someone's mother. Skye's day of birth came close to that day. But not fully. He wasn't my firstborn.

Any yet my story continues. And I do feel close to God even as I'm living what Paul Harvey would call "the rest of the story."

Who am I becoming now? I don't believe I can know until I'm there. And will my identity be as connected to Stross' as it was in the days and weeks and months closest to his birth? I'm eager to find out and maybe even write about it someday. Maybe.

I just wonder who will be interested.

In fact that might be the rest of the story.

Fascinating, isn't it? This inability to write what I can see unfolding before me. I think that's why people journal and blog. It's the closest we can get. Our own real life Tivo.

What I'm living continues to be the story of who Stross is becoming and, ultimately, who I became when I grew up. Probably a more interesting conclusion for a book, yet again, that part of the story's not finished. (But don't worry, I'm taking great notes!)

Now to those of you still traveling this journey with me, I want to thank you...and, of course, to wish you a...good day!

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