Just One

Seed. It just takes one.

As a blustery wind threatens to blow down my house, both literally and metaphorically, this spring evening, I am reminded of the drive down South to my  cousin’s funeral. In that moment when the highway is surrounded by pine trees on every side, I know we’re getting down into Dixie country. And it was in that moment last Tuesday, that I wanted to grasp onto every passing branch, to slow the car’s momentum, to cling and claw and pull against what I would have to face when arriving at my aunt’s house in South Carolina. But there was no slowing the momentum. There’s just no imagining someone back to life or skipping over that part when you have to face the parents or the spouse or whomever is going to sock you in the gut the hardest.

So we went, my husband, five-year-old son, and I. What could we do but greet the moment as best we could?

And in the rise and fall of the tide since then, I keep feeling this one seed in my pocket. If nothing else, it’s a prayer for a new season to take root after the wind storms have their way with us.

It only takes one, after all. Just one small seed of change or of growth, one tiny change in the temperature, one small adjustment of attitude, and suddenly, the geese are flying on a new course, or an entire family’s dynamics are on the mend.

Heading back down South into the thick of family drama, into the mossy tangles of history, often takes some recovery time. Particularly after a funeral – or a family reunion, which can sometimes feel similar. Now that I am older and not protected by the glossy shine of youth, I see the cracks in the family china, the hushed whispers about uncle Albert’s “condition,” feel the enormity of silences between Betty and Jane. It’s inevitable, I suppose, if we are growing, changing beings who are willing to see what is in front of us.

And if we desire to plant those seeds when they’re given to us, we stay awake. We bear witness to the traveling heartbreaks that families seem to pass from one generation to the next. After all, it only takes one seed to make a new tree, to start a new forest. I am holding on tight to mine.

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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