Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A twirling pile of plates

Beve does a lot in a day. It starts early with a clutch of teachers in his office yakking it up about all things school and not-school, teachers who know the value of community and laughter as a way to start their day. Beve's office has become community central, with a couch, rocking chair, an old theater chair, and his desk chair all ready to handle whatever butt lands in it for that half hour of conversation before those men and the occasional woman lift themselves, deep-sigh and head off to face whatever the day brings them. A public high school with over 40% of its students on free and reduced lunch brings a cornucopia.

Before Beve has his first cup of coffee (oh wait, we're still waiting for him to have his first cup of coffee...I meant tea or hot chocolate or water or whatever), he's probably talked to the other counselors about what the day will look like, seen a few students to answer questions of consequence and trivia, and spent an hour in a conference with a student in danger of not passing some class or other, or another who has been abused by dad, has run away, is considering dropping out, or myriad other things of which I know almost nothing about. There are some crises so large and overwhelming they can take the whole day--the whole week, I should say.

 Then he'll wander down to the 'Teen-Mom' area, because he's their counselor, where he'll check in on the pregnant ones, play for a moment with the babies, and maybe talk to these young mothers about what  'baby-daddies' (not my word) can/should be expected to do; ie, help in the raising of their children--which is far different from what these girls actually experience from the fathers of their children. Or he'll have to take a load of kids to "Job Corps" or "Home-port" or the the alternative high school because they're an inch away from being lost altogether if he can't find a way to help them stay in some kind of school. Or he'll actually go to a kid's house to talk him off the ledge of truancy, if possible, before it becomes too late. Then he'll get a call on his school cell-phone from an administrator, asking for his presence in the main office, so he'll spend some time there, helping with some kind of personnel issue, listening to a principal deal with a behavioral matter. Back in his office, a teacher stops by, closes the door and pours out a problem (personal, professional--that door gets closed for either!), asks for Beve's calm and wise heart to help make sense of it.

Then, for a moment or two, he might--MIGHT--have a chance to check his emails or phone messages, if the line out his door from kids isn't too long or no other fire has sprung up. No wonder he has to put in so many extra hours, get there so early--how else can he get through all that so-called 'real' work, though I don't know what could be more real, more frontline than what Beve does all day!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get a hold of him...because I've been fielding calls all day myself. Hospice is trying to get in touch with him. Some health insurance or credit card company he didn't even know Grampie had is suddenly calling to ask why the premium hasn't been paid (a very difficult issue, since he wasn't allowed near Grampie's finances while Thyrza was living here and since, apparently, most of it was forwarded to her) Thyrza wonders why he doesn't ever answer his phone--why he doesn't go see his father more (though he sees him every day), call her more, do more, be more, more, more, more.

And I want to tell him that our son isn't doing very well--again. That it's been a bad day or week, and that fear is rising up to choke me--again. That I'm afraid to leave J--even for a week. That I count his breaths like I counted them when he was that baby, and wonder that a large, grown man can so fracture a mother's heart. When I see J's hands begin to shake, and his legs begin to bounce and I know his anxiety is building, my heart sinks. My faith sinks, I suppose you could say. And I want to pile this too on top of the twirling, spinning, pile of plates my strong husband keeps juggling every single day, because he's the 'baby-daddy' here. But I worry about this worry being the one thing that is just too much.  I'm over my head here. So far over my head I don't know where the surface is, and I need my foot + taller Beve to help pull me to the top.

But the whole large balancing act he does every day when he walks out the door is in danger of crashing down any moment. That's what it feels like. I know it's not true. I know that God will not allow us to suffer beyond our powers of endurance, and I hold onto that with my teeth if that's all I have to hold with. But I'm here to tell you, it's not easy. The thing is, Beve does the whole thing--his job, handling Thyrza, Grampie, me, life itself-- with such calm and kindness that most of the time it isn't easy to tell how much it takes from him. That's what I've been thinking about lately. That's what I mean about Hawaii.  For Beve.

Because when we return, nothing else will have changed, and there will be plenty more to face. Decisions and logistics, things requiring the best of Beve and a faithful me. That pile of plates isn't going anywhere soon. The only change possible is within Beve. And me. The ability, the faith, the calm and steady hands to keep them all spinning--that must come from God, and keep coming from Him.

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