Forgive me because this post is mostly for me and it's longer than a blog post should be.
I haven't fully recorded an important experience and I don't want to forget the details in future days. I don't want to forget the emotions and the mercies and the smells and sights.
And miraculously enough, I have pictures of one of the most unexpected moments of my life.
Rewind to Tuesday morning, May 14.
A hot, clear morning and a to-do list a mile long due to teacher appreciation week, talent show rehearsals, the end of the school year and the standard craziness of motherhood.
But this morning there was something on my mind that was just about me.
I knew that Amazon would be calling three people to let them know they were finalists to receive a contract with Penguin Publishing. And in my heart I knew that it wasn't me. But I also knew that shouldn't matter.
Only it did. A little. Maybe more than a little
I had two hours alone while the Dancer went to preschool and I was shopping in the grocery store when I realized that I couldn't think of spinach or hamburger patties. I needed to think big. And think free. And find a place where I could convince myself that I would be okay if my words never mattered to a single person.
I abandoned my shopping trip and drove south. Straight out of town. Past farms and schools until I hit the dust of gravel.
It was so beautiful, I took two pictures out my car window:
I finally stopped here and pulled onto a tractor path half covered by a raspberry bush. I remember the smell first, hot and unmistakably bovine, though I couldn't see or hear an animal anywhere. I stepped up to this small wheat field that was alive with the high hum of bees and felt certain I had
picked the perfect spot.
I am allergic to bees , but I willed the busy bugs to ignore me because at that moment I needed that piece of earth as much as they did. I talked to myself for a long time. I talked to my grandmother who passed away ten years ago and whom I miss every. single. hour. of every. single. day. I knew she was proud of my dreams and my efforts to reach them. As I sat there, whispering, smelling, thinking, watching, I heard a strange bird song. I'm no expert on bird calls, but I knew this one was unusual. And mid-call, it changed. It warped again and again. I found the bird on the telephone wire right above my head and tried to get a good look at it but it was silhouetted by the bright sun. I whistled to it. I listened to it's notes transform from fast to slow and low to high. "Are you a mockingbird?" I asked it out loud. I knew it couldn't answer, but I also knew I'd never heard a bird sing like that before. An old truck bounced down the road and the bird took flight, stretching out its wings so I could see the wide band of white feathers. I crossed the road to follow it and I took this picture as I walked.
Then a woman said , "Is this Regina?"
They say hearts stop. But they mean they stop. There is a beat that is sacrificed on the alter of hope, never to be regained. I choked out, "yes."
Then the woman said, "This is Libby from Amazon," and I'm sure she finished her sentence but I didn't hear it.
Only two words escaped with my tears. "You are?"
She laughed and said, "Yes I am!"
I remember pushing on my chest, reminding myself to breath. I remember how heavy the joy was. How it pressed me over until I was touching the road, steadying myself against the gravel.
"Are you sitting down?" she asked.
"No. I'm on a gravel road. Taking pictures of mockingbirds!" I answered.
There was another laugh and she said, "Well pull over."
"No, I'm not driving. I'm just standing on a gravel road."
There was a perplexed pause. I guess she hadn't heard that one before. I'm sure she was thinking, "Yep, this is the finalist from Kansas, all right."
There were words and thanks, but mostly tears. I don't believe I've ever felt shock like that before. To be so certain of my failure and find success. I called my husband first and he laughed and cried with me. And wanted to know where I was. And then wanted to know why in the world I was there. There was no time to explain that some feelings don't fit in a four bedroom house or an aisle of the grocery store. Some moments require something as big and strong as the open sky to reassure us.
Some moments we prepare ourselves to mourn, and rejoice instead.
Some moments have to be recorded before we forget the wet tear falling on the dust, the mockingbird, the hot sun and the sound of quiet crying over the drone of insects.
I am grateful to have this memory, added to so many beautiful ones before it, to remind me that life has its moments.