Break 003: Solace/Garden of Eden

On this episode of the Dance Cry Dance Break, we open with Solace,” a story by Timaree Marston followed by the exclusive premiere of Garden of Eden, the new single written and performed by Provo, Utah singer-songwriter Cherish DeGraaf, engineered by Jordan Clark and Aaron Hendrix, and produced by Jordan Clark.

Photo: Jessie Rich


By Timaree Marston

I sit in my mother’s living room, listening to my two-year-old daughter chattering on about “horsies” and owls. My anxiety and grief have me ready to flee, to escape my body and run for the oak trees I see shedding their leaves as I stare out the window. Instead, I sit, still, sipping my tea made with lemon balm and lavender and chamomile from the herb garden here. I catch my mother in my periphery watching me, her brow furrowed, her mouth drawn. She wants to comfort me. She can’t.

I break my silence with a heavy sigh. I sigh a lot right now. When my son died, the funeral home gave me absurd pamphlets on grief, how to do it. I remember reading, relieved, that sighing was a physical function of mourning, some way for the body to process all that anguish. I took the sighing on as a full-time job. Somehow it helped. Even now, I welcome the sighs; they are some of the few full breaths I take. I can’t imagine breathing normally again. But then, there is so much I cannot imagine in these days following the death of my marriage. I have to leave those thoughts behind. Spending too much time worrying any one piece of the larger pain puzzle is too much right now.

My daughter wraps stuffed animals in blankets, whispers to them so earnestly in her tender toddler voice, “Oh, sweet bear, are you feeling sick? I will comfort you.” She has comforted me in recent days, taking my whole head in her chubby arms, crooning, “It’s okay, Mommy. A hug will make it better. Mommy’s sad. Mommy will feel better.” In those moments, I do, just briefly, feel better if only for her. I rarely cry in front of her but, a born empath, she feels my agony, spies my broken heart beneath the calm façade I keep trying to provide for her peace of mind.

My own mother witnesses my daughter’s attempts to soothe me. She must remember me doing the same as she cried and cried for my father, the man who left her with a three-year-old and a newborn to heal from birth and an affair and spilled dreams—all on her own, terrified. I am sure she sees in my daughter pieces of me. I am sure she sees in her daughter shards of herself.

Photo: Timaree Marston

Here in her home, my mother feeds me meals I don’t want to eat. Here in her home, she offers me tea, wine, chocolate. She takes my daughter for long walks so that I might rest, stop thinking. She gives me hugs, pats my leg, plays mindless home improvement shows. Here in her home, I let her nurture me the best I can, knowing this is all we have as mothers. It helps some, but the heartache still consumes me, even as I down another glass of Barbera while Debrah and Mark decide to love it, not list it.

My mother knows how impossible it is to comfort me in grief. She has done this before, mothering me through the inconsolable aching for my son after he died, trying to draw me into her arms, trying to lessen the pain as she grieved for me. We have walked these paths and know too well that some sorrows are simply too great. But still we try. It’s what we do.

My daughter takes a little spill, trips over a stuffy and smacks her knuckles hard against the wood floor. She is stoic, won’t cry, but I see her pouty lower lip—the one she got from me—protruding ever-so-much, her chin quivering as she holds her injured hand, and stares up at me, eyes wide and glistening. I lift her into my lap, pull her sweet-smelling head to my chest, stroke her wisps of hair, kiss her tiny hand where she hit it. She sniffles, curls into me. Her breathing calms as she touches home base. She sighs. I do too. For a moment, time is suspended in the stillness of comfort. But moments later, she is healed. She wiggles around ready to play again, squirming out of my arms to retrieve her bear. All better.

I look to my own mother—tears in my eyes, tears in hers—both of us watching this freshly-soothed child. Both of us silently mourning the fading of a mother’s healing touch for a daughter’s wounded heart.

The Dance Cry Dance Break is written and produced by Natalie Bayne and recorded and edited by Moe Provencher.

Theme music is Red Lines, by Dance Cry Dance Records artist Tiny Tiny.

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