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When
all
else
fails

Janet picjpg.jpg

“Where are we going?” I ask my sister. She is driving the car, I am in the passenger’s seat.

“You know where we are going!” she answers, clearly frustrated with me.

I tear up a little, but sit quietly, waiting.

I am waiting for my memory to come back . . . waiting for the bits and pieces of the last few hours to fill in, to slowly materialize in my mind.

I’ve been having short-term memory loss for a few weeks now. I am fourteen years old. A freshman in high school. I make good grades, play viola in the orchestra and tuba in the band, along with the sousaphone in marching band. I’m sure my teachers don’t know. Only my sister knows that I am falling apart, and she cannot accept the fact. It’s just too much.

After all, her life has fallen apart, too.

We spent the past few weeks living out of our car with our mother, who decided to leave our father. We are living in an unfurnished apartment now, but we do not always have enough money for food. I have a mouth full of metal and rubber bands and I wear a head brace for several hours each day to correct a problem with my jaw. The constant headaches it produces are nothing compared to the internal damage I inflict on myself by carrying a metal sousaphone in the marching band. My uterus is now displaced and I have been bleeding for over a month straight. Everything has failed me: my parents don’t love each other, we have been homeless and hungry, my body is falling apart and now I am losing my mind.

“I’m sorry,” my sister says, tearing up a little, too. “But you know where we are going, right?”
“Home?” I guess. “Rehearsal?” It has not filled back in yet. I know I was in English class, but I don’t know how many hours have past since then.
“That’s right, Youth Symphony. You know that.”

Maybe she feels guilty. After all, she is the one who told me what she learned in geology class. She told me that the shifting of tectonic plates can cause earthquakes that make the ground erupt in waves much like those in the ocean. This was the last straw. I couldn’t trust my parents, my body, my mind, and now I couldn’t trust the earth beneath my feet, either. Why in the world did I believe in God? I had been raised in a Christian home, but disillusionment wiped out everything I had ever believed in, especially myself.

Janet picjpg.jpg

In spite of everything, I breathe a sigh of relief. Youth Symphony. I am grateful to be able to spend the next two and a half hours playing music. This is my great escape. I have spent the past two years practicing four to six hours a day. When I am playing, I cannot hear my family arguing. I do not see my mother crying. The music gives me permission to be alone; to think things through; to check out into another dimension where scales and etudes and Bach bring everything into perfect order.

 

After the orchestra tunes, I relax, knowing that the music on the page will guide and hide me. It will allow me to process my thoughts . . .

 

My life is in shambles. There is nothing I can trust. Absolutely nothing. Why in the world do I believe in God? Why have I ever believed what my parents tell me?

 

My face flushes with anger, and I dig into the fortes with passionate fury.

 

If I can’t even trust the things I can see, why would I trust in what I cannot see? Stability. That’s what I need. I need something I can depend on.

 

The rehearsal goes on, and so does my prayer: a new prayer that I am praying to no one. I need something I can trust. Stability. I need . . . I need . . . I need . . . God.

Need. I need food. I don’t always have food, but food exists. I need ground to walk on. It may give way, but it exists. You can’t need something that doesn’t exist. I need God. If I need God, God exists; and I need God like never before.

The anger drains out of me, leaving me exhausted. My heart is filled for the first time with my own faith. Not the faith of my father, not the faith of my mother, but my own. God exists. I don’t know who or where God is, but I am going to find out. I will use every ounce of my broken mind and body to find the Only One in Whom I can trust.

 

We are quiet in the car on the way back to our little, empty apartment. My sister loves me. I know that. And I love her. When the time is right, I will confide in her. I will tell her . . .


I have lost it all, all else has failed. I have no faith and no self-confidence, but every time I collapse, I will fall into the hands of God. I no longer believe in what I can see, but I believe in what I cannot see.

“So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

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