Stripping Dignity

It's not like I chose this path.
At least once a week my nose is so red people can tell I've been crying.
Effing "Rudolph", leading me through Life.

It's not like it happens at home after the children are asleep.
Sometimes, right there in my bright green VW Bug, packed like clowns, full of kids,
somewhere between point A and point B
out of nowhere
I break down.

I weep
and look ridiculous
like at the Starbucks drive through
sobbing, "I'm okay. Mommy's just getting her feelings out."

The children always wait in loving stillness
and after I blow my nose on yesterday's napkin from the floor
I ask the patient stranger on the speaker box for decaf, chocolate chip cookies, and tall, whole milk.

I pay at the window as the sun sets on another cold day
smiling through bloodshot eyes at the cashier.
Something feels so clean and fresh
and I swear I smell spring in the winter wind that circles between us.

The children pass around the cookies and milk.
I shift the green Bug into a low gear
taking the same road home.

In the back somebody talks about Batman or times tables.
Another takes off his wrestling shoes
and we all jerk, then laugh, at the horrible smell
until it is all just so silly
the little car shakes all over the road
causing me to change lanes.

So I have a red nose?
It's not like I chose to wear it.
But it is here
stripping dignity
knocking down every facade I had ever built over the course of a lifetime
as we drive home
with a perfect view
of the rising full moon.

Beth writes about the power grief (divorce, loss) has to transform us for the better, despite our best efforts to fight it every inch of the way. Most of her writing is done with minimal or no editing, and comes to her in a "chunk' from "somewhere else", requiring this busy mother and teacher to write in the middle of swirling chaos... upon which she thrives. See more publicly embarassing bravery at

Beth has taken classes with Valley.