Life is for living


My alarm goes off at 5:20am. I push the button to turn it off instead of snooze. I feel awake, rested.

I discover a good morning text from my dad in which he calls me his sweetie. Even now, even at age 35.

I look in the mirror and notice that my hair is re-growing in thickness and strength. I’m happy that no matter the size of my hips, my collar bone is still evident and elegant.

My coffee begins brewing with the push of a button. Simple.

The strawberries on my spoon provide such a sweet contrast to the pucker of my plain yogurt. It is a lovely marriage.

Today will be an 80 degree April day! I dress my son in his only pair of shorts. I admire the quality with which they were made and feel thankful that even though they are two years old, they still fit. The thought of the sun coloring his little legs for the first time this season makes me feel warm.

In her sleepy saunter towards me, my daughter’s arms find my waist. She makes no judgement or remark about its fullness or softness. She mumbles, “morning mommy” and I’m grateful for the generous ways that children extend grace.

I fill my car with gas using the tightly rolled bundle of cash that my sweet grandparents handed me when I left their house last weekend. There is something satisfying about having just enough when you weren't sure you would.

Myra, the tiniest and sweetest woman meets my son and I at the door of his school. Her consistently kind face comforts both me and Ian in ways that she’ll never know. I want to hug her for being exceptionally generous with her smile and I wonder how so much goodness can fit into a lady so small?

The morning air blows the hair off my neck through the open window of my car as I drive. NPR comes in perfectly and I listen attentively to an unknown voice on the radio. It is like having an intelligent conversation with stranger. I like this.

Lemons fresh from the tree float in the water in my water bottle at my desk. They make it taste as if I am drinking giant gulps of spring. Clean water is so good.

Life is for living-- not mere survival. Even in the hard times.
I remind myself to live.

(I found this trillium flower in the woods last weekend. They are my favorite spring flower.)


Transient

On a rock in the forest

I sat on the rock and looked around me. I didn't expect it to hit me in that moment but it did. I could see the undefiled purity in every square inch around me. Everything just was. The rocks were covered in lush velvety green moss. The mist rising from the waterfall sparkled like glitter in the sun. A tiny Benwick's Wren serenaded from the middle branches of a nearby alder tree. And the water... The water was the clearest, cleanest, most beautiful color of glass with the faintest tinge of green. Everything was simple and beautiful and whole and organic and lovely in it's own way. Nothing needed to be added. Nothing needed to be taken away. It just was. I asked myself how it was that human life could be so different from the scene on display in every direction I looked. How could it be so difficult, so jagged and unforgiving? Why was so much effort required? I began to cry as I let it soak in, the immensity of what I had recently been through. I hadn't yet allowed myself to step away from it that far- to stand back and look at the entire picture of it head on. I had only been surviving moment to moment, but now... now I strung all the moments together and took in the entire timeline. Sometimes when things are immeasurably right {like sitting in the sun on an emerald rock deep in the forest} you realize how immeasurably wrong they've been. The contrast was overwhelming.

I once heard a quote, by Johnny Depp of all people, that said "People cry not because they are sad, but because they've been strong for too long". I did cry. But that wasn't the only reason I cried. In this incompressible convergence of emotion I cried out of grief and weariness, AND I cried out of joy and strength. I have come so far from a place that I'll never go back to. There is both joy and pain in that. It's like leaving the only home that you've ever known, and coming home to the place where you know you belong. I don't know how else to describe it.

The full unveiling of what was lasted only a few seconds. It was so big that I could only look at it head-on for brief moment, but in that brief moment I quickly gathered whatever bits of love that were left, and whatever slices of grace that remained, and I carried them off into the future with me. I hopped off the rock with the intention of healing.

And that's how I will move on.

Transient

Little observations of a mother:


Emma:
The house is quiet and still. It is the kind of quiet and still that only comes in the early morning hours. She sits criss-cross on the floor at my feet, my fingers entwined into the mass of her golden hair that is slowly becoming a braid. We say very little. I am still coming awake to the day, but she- she has gotten up in the dark by herself, prepared her own breakfast, applied her own mascara, gathered her own things, and knows exactly how many minutes she has to spare before she has to walk out into the cold to catch her bus. I look now at the elegant line that begins just behind her ears and continues down the long curvature of her neck and out to the far corners of her shoulders. Where there once was a small child, now sits the most lovely fair-skinned young lady who’s height and wit and beauty has far surpassed mine. She needs me less and less. She no longer needs my help pouring a glass of milk, very soon she will fly across the country on a plane by herself, and every day she makes independent and responsible decisions without any input from me. This is the goal of mothering yes, but it always leaves the most bittersweet taste in my mouth. Moments like these where we sit together in the quiet of the morning help to soften and sweeten the heavyhearted thoughts I have about her slow departure from me. I watch the gentle heave of her breath and the way her long legs fold in on themselves. It is such a magnificent mystery how a small child can grow into something that stretches so far beyond your wildest dreams. As I finish she stands, kisses me on the lips, and says “Thank you mommy”. My oldest baby.

Hannah:
I rub her back as she shivers in the cold. We are on the side of road near the top of the pass. She has asked me to pull over so she could throw-up. After a brief period we agree it was a false alarm and continue on to the road to her swim meet. She is in crisis. Standing by the side of the pool she begs, cries, pleads with me not to make her swim the next event. I remind her that all 100yd butterfly races are won primarily in the mind, that she can make her body do anything her brain tells it to do. I recount for her all the hours that she has trained for this. I tell her to believe in herself because I believe in her. She covers her tear-filled eyes with her goggles and makes her way to lane 3. I stand at the other end of the pool sending all the strength and all the courage I can muster to the girl I love up on the starting block. I admit my heart races for her. If I’m honest, I wonder as well. Can she do this? Will she do this? But then she dives in and leaves her fear behind. She leaves it behind so quickly that it is no where to be found after 4 laps. She touches the wall a winner. Fastest time yet. And we are both stronger now.

Laurel:
I’m in hysterics. Who is this girl and what has she done with the usually quiet and reserved other version of herself? The tears are literally streaming down my face as I watch her twerk around the kitchen. She’s got tons of flavor and I could never move with the kind of rhythm and freedom that she moves with. How does she even know all the words to this song? I laugh even harder as I remember how she told me the other day that the clouds made her feel as if we were living in a witch’s lair, and how the shirt I picked out for her was uglier than a bad bad hairdo. With lice. She surprises me this girl. Sometimes it’s with a sudden burst of zaniness, or an imaginative use of vocabulary, but mostly it’s the way she loves. Wholly. Without any thought for herself. It comes at a time in my life where this feels like a rare gift. I tell her these things. I tell her that she gives a love like I’ve never had before. I thank her. She can’t see it I know, but she pats my arm with her hug and asks me if I’ve ever googled anything on the topic of, “how poop comes out of your butt?” More laughing.

Ian:
I haven’t seen him for a few minutes and that always makes me nervous. I stop and listen for a second and can hear his voice down the hallway. I let him play undisturbed in his room for a little while longer, thankful for the opportunity to finish some chores. Soon, however, my curiosity gets the better of me and I cannot stand it any longer. I tip-toe to just outside his doorway. He squats like a frog with his back to me- knees in his armpits and bottom to the ground. Around him on the floor is an innumerable amount of toy trains. He doesn’t know I am there and is lost in his play. He acts as all of the characters in his make believe scenario. I love listening to the nonsensical sounds and the different voices that he uses. I can’t even really make-out the imaginary plot… but he gives himself to it fully. These are the most divine spaces of time for a 3 year old boy. There is no challenge imposed on him to share with a playmate, no verbal requests flying at him. (Ian can you put your shoes on? Ian can you please pick up your legos?) No places to be and no times to be there. Free unstructured play time. I smile and feel grateful to witness life being lived free to whim. He looks up at me standing nearby and asks me to play with him. Without hesitation I join.