Phoenix, and Moms in Boxes

On a flight to Arizona and everything feels surreal. I’m being swept up in a wave bigger than I understand, driven by forces I sometimes know, and then don’t.

This morning from the airport gate, I video called a donor and asked him to match a grant proposal – today. He said yes. Then to add to that, my board President called to say our largest corporate donor agreed to fund us again. I made $140,000 before 9am.

Here’s the thing. Making money for tennis and yoga (and to pay my salary) is wonderful. But the way it all happened was so miraculously timed and serendipitous I can only believe it is the much-foretold turning point in my life I’ve been anticipating. The beginning, really.

Because I’m heading to Arizona, right now, regardless of the funding. Personally, I’m maxed out. All my credit cards are tied up in this one weekend trip to a place I haven’t been in almost 20 years.

I remember when I arrived in Phoenix last time, with my mother’s ashes in a shitty plastic box on the seat next to me, all those years ago. I remember exhaling when the plane touched down – I felt the difference in the air … looked at the sky and said, “I’m home.”

I remember leaving there, a month later, sobbing in the arms of my first love, listening to Dashboard Confessional, and wondering how my heart and body could be SO shattered.
Now it’s been a thousand years, more lifetimes than that even, and I return not on my own behalf … and not without ashes in my heart shaped box.

This time, I am here to mend a canyon-sized rip in the fabric of my family, and I’m terrified.

Six children await my arrival. Six of them I have never met, never hugged nor held nor spoken to about their secrets. Not one of them is whole or wholly at home, though a few have more promising situations than the rest.

When last I was in Phoenix, and what an appropriate symbology for this journey, I had my dead mother’s ashes in a box. My estranged 16 year old sister had only just learned of my existence via a certified letter from the State saying I was orphaned and up for grabs. She was pregnant with her daughter Serenity … and my mother was in a shitty plastic box.

It’s been 17 years. Serenity is now a foster child with five younger siblings … whose existence I discovered via a certified letter from the State saying their mother is facing years in jail … facing confinement in a shitty concrete box … and the kids are up for grabs.

This is it. This is the fire I have always been meant to stand in, isn’t it? To BE the bridge between the Worlds. I am here to break the cycle of shitty boxes and abandoned children. I am here to stand upon the pile of ashes, to shake out my wings, and to teach these children how to fly.

And I’m terrified. What is this life that is so much bigger than me? Am I strong enough? Is there enough money or success or hope in the world for my *existence* to make this kind of difference?

Because I’m not really doing anything, am I? Simply showing up and listening, giving those hugs and asking to hear their lives. No, I will not be your new home, I have to say (because I cannot be). No, I cannot make your mother better, nor can I bring your fathers back, nor save your lives at all, really.

But I can love you. I already do.

And I can celebrate all the years I’ve missed and watch an episode of your favorite show and hear about that bully at school and help you get sunscreen on your hard to reach spots and feed you and cry with you if we must and and and —

I can love you. I already do.

Please, dear goddess, let love be enough just this one time. Lift us up in this wave, offer us another miraculous series of serendipities, and give me the words I need to secure whatever I am here to gain for these kids. Let abundance spill into that canyon.

Teach us to fly so far away from the ashes of our mothers’ mistakes – and their mothers ashes before them – that all we can see is sky. Help us to feel the difference in the air and know, somehow, that we are home.

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