“She never loved me,” Savannah sadly said to me as we walked through the field of wildflowers. “She would kiss my brothers good night in the rooms next to mine and as I heard her voice reading to them I imagined her caressing their hair. When she finished she would pass right by my door saying good night as she went by. I would cry out to her, ‘Mama, kiss me and love me too,’ but she never came in and I would fall asleep to the deepest pain, a pain that would never heal.”
Ever since I met Savannah I knew that behind her effervescent facade there was a deep loneliness. She was beautiful in a classic, Audrey Hepburn sort of way with great style, thick glossy black hair, mischievous brown eyes and long, thin, shapely legs. Her energy was magnetic and she lived to make the world smile. But her destiny, given to her by her mother, was to live a life searching for the love that she was robbed of as a little girl.
As Axel lay sobbing in bed his pain became my own and I worried about the life wounds I was inflicting upon him. He is a lot like his father, my Axel, quietly absorbing his pain until he can no longer. He is wise like the elephants he adores and he is able to express his sadness in a way that I can understand, learn and change from. “I feel like you don’t love me,” he cried. “You put me in camp all day just so that you can get rid of me. You’re always tired, always mad, always working. When I try to help you all you see is the mess I make. When I make my invention that everybody is impressed by, you scold me for breaking a toy that Grandpa gave me. I feel like I’m living with an Ogre.”
Savannah’s anguish resonated deeply within me and even though Axel had closed up to me and was trying to push me away I embraced him in a hug and held on to him until he calmed down reassuring him that he, his brothers and his father were my sun, my stars and my moon. I explained to him that sometimes the external environment was what caused me to be that Ogre and that I would listen to his eternally wise words and remember to not let the weight of the world enter our house any longer. I also told him that it would really help if he didn’t make such a complete mess wherever he went in the house. Brevitt walked into the room, “Axel, cry into your pillow, you’re so loud and Mommy, you can’t both cry,” he said with his gorgeous smile. “But Axel’s right, I am an Ogre,” I replied in tears.
As Axel’s sobs quieted into silent tears I sang to him my favorite song, “Everything’s Alright,” from the play Jesus Christ Superstar and as he fell asleep I hoped that loving him so completely would indeed make everything alright.
The next day the boys had a lot of play with my new nickname and we laughed all day on our road to recovery. After Lacrosse practice Axel got into the car with the rain pouring outside and I couldn’t help staring at my beautiful boy with his long hair swept to the side to stay out of his eyes, his big, gapped teeth, long eyelashes, smiling eyes and incredibly knowing smile. I apologized to him for my behavior the day before and as he balanced his body like an angel on top of the seat he said, “You know Mama, when you’re mad, you get really mean and you sound like this, “Axxxxellll, you didn’t ussssssssssse the sssssssssssssssssssplattmat!”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his interpretation of his now Medusa mother. I guess I transform into different monsters depending on the moment. I can thank my father for handing down to me all of these wonderful traits but the reality is that I must not place all the blame on my genes and I must take some responsibility for the pain I cause to both myself and my children when I am bad. I need to always remember my friend Savannah and know that we are all fragile and need love and if I am feeling like an Ogre or Medusa or that little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead than I need to listen to my children and learn how to stay good when I’m very, very good and quiet when I am feeling the urge to be horrid.