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  • Patty Ihm

The Color Inside of Me


To be so tied to someone that their hurt, disappointment, and fear mix with what's inside of you and become indiscernible: that must be the definition of motherhood and perhaps love, too.


Even as I had seemed to surface through the depressive fog, I felt the burden of what was not even there as it pulled me down.


The color inside of me has been elusive. I could sense it, hot in my stomach, rising with my breath, this color within; still, I couldn't quite see. And the feeling itself: that, too, was elusive. When one of the boys was angry earlier this week, he called his color red...without hesitation, through hot, clenched fists and a rising voice. My labor with Gabriel was long. I still remember the black box of pain that seemed to have no walls. Again, the color was certain. This time, though, now, I couldn't call up what was inside of me.


The angry child found something to do. The darkness of the labor pains gave way eventually, and sunshine came forth to present a robust, sleepless child.


After an endless spring break where a high fever kept our adventures locked away until the last days, we ate at a diner with that grown baby and his girlfriend. The server delivered five tall glasses of special berry Mountain Dew to the table, and then I knew.


There wasn't a name for the color...an iridescent sparkling cloud...a geological masterpiece, and certainly something that did not look like it should be taken on ice through a straw. Some sort of transient blue. That was it. How could they drink this?


What no one could see opened up and all of the contents dumped, spilling, sinking beneath the surface where I stood. Was there something in the box that was supposed to help me, or is it the very act of pulling it open and letting go that gets me closer to where I am supposed to be? And does it count if the box was opened without intent?


Nobody spilled the special blue magical soda.


It's the loss of being left out, of being kept from the chances, of hurting when nobody knows that collides with my own inadequacies, making it impossible to discern if that pain is theirs or mine because in trying to hold them up, I keep them from being able to pick up their own pieces.


I woke early to tend to the chickens. The sun had begun to rise. The veil of nighttime still filtered the soft, sleepy air. I always take the long way back to the house so I can put my ear to the hives, to listen to the reassuring song of the bees once again. Through the clearing in the woods, I could see a lighter, softer version of the color: easy lilac that faded to the palest blue without fanfare. A few tiny hints of what must have been hope came through the smallest opening from the box inside of me, which didn't feel quite so heavy anymore.

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