• Mimi Milan

Sweeping Through Depression

I’m struggling even as I write this simple blog post. It isn’t for lack of words or ideas. It’s not even due to lack of quiet time – the usual obstacle as I try to manage three small children (one with cerebral palsy), household chores, grad school, and the (finally budding) writing career.

This time it’s depression.

Really, though, I’m not a naturally depressed individual. Angry? Perhaps. Enough bad things have happened in my life that makes me a rather… passionate… person when it comes to certain subjects. I’m also the sort to tell a friend to pull up their bootstraps and march, because that’s what my grandmother told us to do. However, that doesn’t always work – especially when dealing with something like a death in the family.

That’s where I am right now.

My father-in-law passed away a couple of days ago. A quiet Catholic who had kindly welcomed me and my family into his home when we moved to Mexico for a couple of years, I never got to know him. I mean, really know him. The truth is, my father-in-law didn’t speak to anyone. He liked to spend hours alone, sitting in the yard with a Corona or walking along the long stretch of road in front of his house. In the evenings, the family would gather around to watch the latest installment of whatever telenovela. There he would be on the corner of the couch, silently watching the old static box set – the kind I swore they stopped selling back in the eighties.

If mornings were café and pan, then beans were for lunch. That’s a joke… beans were for every meal. Sometimes my suegra would even pack up eggs and beans with fresh corn tortillas for the men to take with them to work. My father-in-law would already be out front, sweeping the yard. I laughed at this since there was nothing but dirt to sweep. Yet there he would be, moving it round and round until he collected a nice little pile around the one tree that stood in the yard.

I shouldn’t have laughed.

It’s a good ritual – this sweeping thing.

When the children are driving me insane and I need a few minutes alone, I go outside and sweep the front steps. It’s nice out there – fresh air, the sun shining down on me as I move back in forth in a peaceful rhythm. There’s something inspiring about sweeping my room before I write, too. Lost in my own little world, I move back and forth and brush away the cobwebs of my mind – making space for the characters to take over.

So I wonder now…

Can I sweep away sadness? Is it possible to just keep pushing away the dirt that drags us down when something bad happens? I don’t know.

It seemed to work for him, though.

Rest in peace, suegro.

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© 2014 ~ 2020 by Mimi Milan.