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Reindeers & aliens

In first grade, my class dressed up as reindeers and did aerobics for the school’s Christmas show. Dressing up was bad enough for me; I did the bare minimum workout, and totally sat out the neck rolls, despite glares from the adults in my life. 

I’d decided that getting in trouble was better than doing all that ridiculousness.

Last night, at a weekend Cub Scout event, my eight-year-old was expected to don a costume with the other members of his pack. He wailed and railed against it. He said he’d rather not have candy than gain it by wearing “the stupid costume hat.”

Even when he did finally put it on, he sulked in our tent for a full ten minutes. After he emerged from the tent, he continued to sulk–mightily–straight through photos and the beginning of trick-or-treating. 

He eventually decided that candy was worth wearing the hat, but I’m kinda glad it took him a little while to get there. His obstinacy tickled me, bringing me to imagine my mom was right there with us. 

I envisioned her laughing with my husband and saying, “I didn’t hold it against her. I told her she’d get her own taste of it someday, and here she is! Here she is.”

Thus were Christmas then and Halloween now woven together … and my mom, gone in body for more than seven years now, no less powerful a presence in her reluctant reindeer’s heart.

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Nine Octobers

Nine years ago in September, I told the guy I was dating that I wanted to break it off. He wasn’t serious enough.

Nine years ago in October, I told that same guy that being unserious with him was better than being serious without him. We got together to watch Quarantine, and resumed our occasional dating.

F201310_WedRob_130our years ago in October, I married that guy. He walked side by side with our little boy that day; I carried our second little boy inside me.

Four days ago, this October, I took a day off work to watch a horror movie with that guy. My husband. My Anthony.

We watched It. Both of us yelped at least twice. It reminded me of that day nine years ago, getting back together-ish with him over Quarantine.

October with Anthony, man.

I wouldn’t miss it.

Anthony hasn’t worked steadily in his chosen profession for a couple years. To him, on some level, this means he hasn’t really worked. Read more…

a happy-enough ending

A year or two ago, a friend told me a real-life story that broke my heart.

The story began with one woman she knew saying, “Man, that lady is so lucky!” and the women around her replying, “Say what?! You’d only think that if you didn’t know what she had to endure to be where she is now!”

In this case, “that lady” lost just about everything–everyone–she loved in a single night.

With the terrible space that created, she eventually made room for other people who had suffered greatly.

Now, they fly together, all of them having lost so much … but all of them also having found each other.

It doesn’t make their story happy, but it certainly makes it less lonely and more full of love.

Maybe that, when it comes right down to it, is its own happy-enough ending.

Categories: Love, Uncategorized Tags: ,

cherishing now (and trees)

My childhood home stood on a corner. In addition to having a small lawn at its front, it had one outside the backyard fence along its left side. My mom once planted several small trees there.

A few years after she planted them, she happened to talk to a man who worked with trees. He said that one of the trees should be cut down, pointing to some kind of dark mark inside a gash and saying the tree was already dead. It looked very much alive to my mom, who argued there must be something she could do to save it.

Nope, he affirmed. It’s already dead. It just looks like it’s still alive because it takes a while to for results of death to be evident to the human eye.

My mom, whose mental illness was itself becoming more evident by the day, thought her neighbors had done it–whatever “it” was. They’d hurt the tree to hurt her.

I simply thought it was interesting.

A few months back, I walked across a courtyard and pondered grim political news I’d just read. I looked up at a tree nearest my destination and thought, This is an illusion. Read more…

Lessons in injustice, lessons in love

My mom and I share(d) a birthday.

This year, for the first time in many years, I didn’t write about it on my blog.

“It feels weird,” I told my husband at the end of the day. “But it’s not about how much I love and miss my mom. It’s about my changing relationship with my blog.”

Anthony ruffled my hair and said he understood.

This morning, as I sit cross-legged in the dark and listen to my boys snore, I am inexpressibly grateful for my mom.

From the time I was very young, my mom taught me about injustice. She pointed it out to me when it appeared in my life, and she explained it to me when I discovered signs of it in the great big world outside.

She showed me how injustice is systemic without ever using the word “systemic.”

She spoke occasionally with despair, but more often with hope: Nothing I saw was forever. Nothing I experienced could not be changed.

When my older son asks me about death, and homelessness, and Ferguson, I answer. I try to answer in ways that won’t overwhelm him or make terrible obstacles seem insurmountable.

As my mom once did for me, I want him to see injustice … and to know it is not inevitable. That his actions can chip away at it in small but meaningful ways.

Some of those I love think I am wounding him by sharing hard truths, but I know better.

By sharing them with love and hope, I also share with Li’l D my mom.

young mom

Mom at Li’l D’s age

Mom’s body died when Li’l D was only five months old, but her spirit lives on in me and my siblings.

It also lives on in our kids, who know–thanks to her–not only that injustice exists, but that it can be diminished by our fierce and loving acts.

This 11/5/16 post transferred from L2SP 9/15/17.

Categories: Love, Parenting Tags: , , , , ,

the lost year

Sorting through old paperwork last month, I found a letter I’d received after being rear-ended. My eyes drifted toward the date. Was it January that I was rear-ended, or maybe February?

I was stunned to find that the accident had happened in September. That would have been when my oldest son was newly back to school, which I should have remembered.

Why didn’t I remember? Because I barely even noticed his school year.

I was learning about the world–about politics and history, and how colonialism didn’t disappear so much as change form; unwittingly, I’d participated. 

I was horrified, outraged, heartbroken, and more to discover virtually everything I’d ever believed was wrong. I lost myself in trying to understand all the mistakes I’d made, and how lives have been lost due to the misunderstanding of even the best-intentioned people.

I lost sight of my sons, my husband, my friends, and all manner of things that have traditionally brought me joy. I simply stopped seeing them.

That’s what that bill’s date revealed to me: how much I’d lost in a year of favoring my learning over my love.

A week or two ago, my older son curled up with me on the couch. We talked about school and all was as ordinary as if I hadn’t lost a year of such moments. I took a moment to thank God that such wrongdoings can be rectified, and commit to ensuring I never again lose so much as a month, let alone an entire year. (Sometimes, emergencies may necessitate a week or two away.)

Last night, I watched my two little boys hop-race around the house. I laughed and told them I love to watch them play.

I turned to my husband and asked, “I gave up this for a year, for Twitter?”

“Uh-huh,” he confirmed, giving me his well honed bet-you’re-sorry look.

I’m glad he was so patient, and that my sons felt my love even when I was only barely present. But these are gifts to cherish, not squander, and I mean to cherish them. 

Books can fill me with knowledge, but only such knowledge as is useless without love.

the pee alarm

My older son and I sat facing each other on the kitchen floor. We were as far away from his little brother as possible in our small house, and spoke softly to have more moments alone together.

“When it’s Christmas Eve,” he told me, “I’m going to drink lots of water so I can wake up and see my presents really early!”

I laughed. “I did that once.”

His face lit up. “Did you see Santa?”

“No,” I said, smiling. “I mean, I drank a lot of water to make sure I’d wake up on time. I was going to research killer whales and I really, really did not want to miss my train. My alarm didn’t go off, so I ended up waking up on time only because I’d had so much water to drink before bed. I had to pee so bad.”

“Why didn’t your alarm go off?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I’m just really glad I had all that water, because I wouldn’t have been able to go to Canada that summer if I’d awakened five minutes later.”

“Why not?”

“I didn’t have enough money for a new train ticket, and I would have missed some connections that would have left me stranded for days, even if I’d had enough money.” When one of your connections involves a tiny personal boat out to an unpopulated island, timing is key.

Our conversation moved onward, but that bit returned to me as I drove to work an hour later. It was incredibly sweet to sit with two different kids who haven’t spent much time together, yet: younger me and one of my own sons.

Sometimes Li’l D asks me, “Why didn’t you tell me that?!” when I relate this or that memory to him. I explain that most memories only float to the surface when something today reminds me of something from yesterdays. 

I hope we uncover many more such memories together, whether from our kitchen floor or wherever else the years ahead may take us.

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