THE WORDS I CARRY

a short memoir of sorts

As a little girl at Sunday mass I would often daydream through the gospel until a particular line would strike me, as if tossed down from the heavens, wrecking me against my will. Some words are adhesive like that, sticking with me for seasons until they begin taking on new meaning, fermenting into fine wine just for my tasting.

Love. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I was far too young to grapple with the poetry behind this line when I first heard it spoken. First Corinthians something or other. I was too distractible then, too deeply immersed in the matters of innocents. But some words just cling without tangible reason. This one did just that. It was only a matter of time before those reasons were made known, standing in my field of vision like holy apparition, basking in the soft light of complete and total understanding.

I didn’t fully comprehend it until 19, the wreckage of a thousand and some failures collecting in fragments at my feet. There was nothing left to save and nothing was holy. Everything was tainted, ruined, shards of stained glass littering the aisles of my worth. If my body was a temple, it was burning. My heart, a cathedral aflame, its spire just moments away from plummeting down to earth. Gone were the days where I could be little and absentminded in the pews. Now I was a trembling creature in the furthest back row, only here because of my mother’s insistence, picking at my fingernails to try and stop the bleeding. That never works. I know that one well now.

And then it came. The spire. The river of blood. The line I could anticipate but could not for the life of me predict the magnitude of its impact—

Love never fails.

On the way back, with no breath left in my lungs, I sung it over and over like a lost hymn I had long since forgotten the words to. Love never fails. Love never fails. Love never fails. Each time I repeated it, the death grip around my throat loosened a little more, unraveling, weakening, until I could finally breathe again, in and out, a new melody.

I made that line my song. I walked out of those church doors and walked home. It was the beginning of spring. I looked up at the sky, a neverending blue, and back down at my hands, which I could see for the first time in years, empty, hollow, holding nothing, completely my own.

Love never fails.

It had carried me to the moment I knew that I had won.

escapril day 26: girlhood, boyhood

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