Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let Me Be Your Armor

"Let me take the fall
Let me take the blame
Let me carry you from Hell
To home again.

Let me walk for you
When your legs are weak
Let me find the words for you
When you can't speak

Let me be your armor

Let me be your shield
Let me take away the pain you feel
Let me be the light
That guides your way through darkest night
Let me be your armor.

Let me take the blows
That were meant for you
Let me help you the trials
You're going through

Let me keep you safe
From the world outside
Let me wipe away the tears
That fill your eyes..."
Assemblage 23, Let Me Be Your Armor

So I figured out I needed to tell Gunnar what a badass husband he's been, and I figured out exactly what I was going to say, and I still had another eleven and a half hours before they came back through the gate.

So then I got to thinking, marveling I guess, about how much my life has changed since January.

When I rang in the New Year - alone, of course - I was the solitary daughter of a single mother who had died of cancer almost a decade ago. Nine years is a long time.
I was still clutching at her ghost, though. In a metaphorical sense, I mean. Not the way I could actually grab a ghost now.
I kept her house but I didn't live in it. I kept her things but I didn't use them. Instead I just let her haunt me. I treated her death like a personal failure and all the things I knew I'd wanted before she got sick... the story I used to tell her about how I'd be a kickass doctor and meet a guy at work and the whirlwind romance and lots of kids and saving the world... I gave up on it all.
Even after I got back from Afghanistan, and met my dad and started kinda pulling myself back together, I was a far fucking cry from being anything resembling "okay."
The best I managed was that I worked twenty hour days - at a job any mortal is capable of doing, if I'm being honest about it - and I talked to a bird and and I occupied one room of a seven bedroom house which, like my life at the time, was otherwise empty.
I was empty too. I was nothing special. I was eccentric, at most. There wasn't much else to damaged-but-pretty little Laurel Kladakos.

And then I met Gunnar, and the rest of the Band and, yeah, I was still damaged, but at least I felt something I hadn't felt since I was in junior high school.
The world, with its sudden influx of giant snakes and mythical monsters and evil rituals and shadow ninjas, made sense to me. I felt like I knew what I was doing again. I was supposed to take care of them all, and when I did so successfully, I started to see the pattern. From the first time I took care of their wounds, I knew what I would be doing with the rest of my existence (and even in the remote mountains of Norway, I swear I can almost hear Never's response to that: "Wot, stiching up yer viking?").
Anyway.
I told Gunnar before we got married about crazy Laurel's belief that there's a reason for everything. There's a plan, and all this crazy shit is part of it. But that belief, if I'm trying to take it seriously, means that I don't get to be picky. Either I believe in Fate and its designs, or I don't. I don't get to just point at the stuff that makes me happy and call that Fate and handwave the rest of it as bullshit bad luck. And everyone else can believe whatever the fuck they want, I don't really give a good goddamn if anyone else thinks the way I do. But I believe there's some sort of pattern, and I believe I'm not supposed to understand it all the time and I believe that we are all part of it.

I believe my mom was part of it, too.
See, when my mom got sick I think there was something I was supposed to learn from her, if I had bothered to pay attention. If I'd only looked.
But I didn't look. I fucked it up.
I looked away. Turned and ran, all the way to Afghanistan.
And I've danced around it for a very long time, but in front of that gate of ice with all that time and quiet (well, it was quiet once you got used to the rustling of the Tatzelwurms) and cold, I finally admitted the truth. I was trying to get myself killed. But I fucked that up, too.
I was lost then, really and truly. I had no other family to lean on, no friends to speak of and no desire for a future. I didn't know what else to do so I was trying to lay down and die.

The problem was that I didn't know how. I still don't think I know how, but I'm totally and completely okay with that. Even if I did know how, it's not a luxury I have anymore.
That's what my mother, in her illness, was trying to teach me. Or what Fate was trying to teach me through her illness. Anyway, she was meant to show me the strength I would need, and the grace I would need, to face an enemy that simply cannot be defeated. Because you can't beat Death (but if you can't beat 'em, join 'em? But I guess that's a thought for another time).
As a doctor I dealt with illness and death on a daily basis. As the team's doctor, I still deal with it pretty regularly.
Some days I deal with it better than others.

And like I've said to Gunnar, sometimes there is not a godsdamned thing you can do about it. Death happens. Sometimes people just die. That's what people do. Everybody knows that everybody dies. I know that people die. They've died on my table. They've died in my arms. And I did everything right, as far as I could tell. I did everything I could and it still wasn't good enough.
The point isn't just that I try to keep people from dying, though. That's not the name of the game I'm playing. The game, as I am playing it, is about taking care of their bodies while they're alive, and taking care of their souls when their bodies give up. And taking care of them in all the in-betweens. And yeah, I really think my mom was trying to teach me how to be a guardian. All of the shit that would entail.
Like, how being a guardian and a mother and a lover - a person who loves, and not just in the commonly understood sexual sense - are all pretty much the same thing. It all means having strength and patience and this insane, everlasting and unbreakable affection. It means admitting that your life doesn't belong to you anymore. It belongs to the people you love, the people you're supposed to be responsible for and even the people you don't really even fucking like but you know they need to be protected anyway. Sometimes from themselves.
It's hard choices and long nights, and a lot of rushing to other people's aid and when none of that's enough... Well, it's up to you how to handle it from there. But never in any of that do you have the option to do anything besides stay standing. Everything and every one around you can crumble and collapse, but you don't get to give up.
That was my mistake, when my mom died. I tried to be petty and childish and say that the world should suffer because my mom had to suffer. It doesn't work like that. It shouldn't work like that. I don't get to be that selfish.
I mean, part of me wants to say that one life isn't that important, but I know that's utter bullshit. One life is important, one life means everything. My mom was important and she was important because of what she taught me how to be.
She taught me how to be good, more than anything else. Even when she got sick, she didn't stop being my mom. She didn't stop caring, and she didn't stop loving me, and she didn't stop trying to keep me safe. Even after her last breath, she took care of me.

So yeah, I'm still damaged. Kinda. I probably always will be, even if I survive to be a god and live past the end of all creation. But all that damage, the scars - which I'm getting rid of soon, dammit - and the fire and even my mom's death isn't who I am anymore.
And maybe part of this revelation is because I'm pregnant and holy shit I have to be really fucking responsible now, but I don't have time to just be damaged and pretty little Laurel anymore; I have to be more. I have to be better.
I have to be a daughter and a sister and a wife and a mother and a guardian and a doctor.

Now I think I'm starting to understand what the world needs from me.

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