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feeling life

It’s been a while since I visited my mom’s grave, so I wanted to visit it while in town last weekend.

As my hours left in town shrank into minutes on Saturday, I found I didn’t really want to visit Mom’s grave. I’d already felt my mom in a dozen sweet moments of life outside the cemetery in my family’s three days in town. Trying to find her in the cemetery, which she only ever visited in death, felt like holding on to the wrong thing.

My husband, sons, and I left town without visiting her grave.

I feared I’d get back to SoCal and kick myself, but no: I’d felt her life wherever I went in town, and that sweetness didn’t leave me just because I left town.

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Categories: Death, Family, Love Tags: , , ,

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.

becoming ours

Before I was a parent, my apartment was filled with plants. After I became a parent, remembering to water them fell further and further down my to-do list. Eventually, I had no more plants left to water. I stored their pots behind my rental house and thought I might fill them someday. Maybe.

Today, my older son (Li’l D) and I each picked up a plant at our favorite botanic garden. D was so disappointed there weren’t more full-shade plants there that I offered to take him to a nursery.

He was overjoyed to see all the plants at the nursery. Unfortunately, his little brother being undernapped, we had to make our trip a quick one.

Each of us picked out one plant. After buying them, we loaded them in our car and headed home. Read more…

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.

family medicine

Three years ago,
I watched my brother
(-in-law, so long a part
of my life and family, those
hyphens seem silly) receive
his short coat as he
prepared to begin
medical school

He visited
last weekend,
and my boys and
dog were SO happy to
see him, but …
not nearly as
happy as
was I

We spoke of
many things, but
what I remember most
was telling him
how proud
I am of
him

I didn’t mean
to say as much here,
but he just sent an essay
for critique, and its contents
were the kind I’ll need time
to digest before critiquing
because, honestly,
I just have to sit a while
with all the memories and feelings
first

My world would
have been a much
sadder world without him,
and I know that the world will be
a little less sad
to have him
as a doctor

Categories: Family, Love Tags: , ,

at the same time

Someone said something
that catapulted me back
to February 2009

I had to try working
and try raising a
five-month-old
and try saying
goodbye
to my
dying
mom,
all at
the
same
time

One morning,
I sat in a corner
of my mom’s
empty, cold
house, twenty
feet from where
she lay dying, and
burst into
tears on
a conference
call:

Not only
could I not
answer a question,
I could not do right
by my son,
and I could
not ease my
mom’s pain,
and I could
just not
be
enough

To feel then
and now, together,
from within a community
of people who understand
is a blessing

I did what I could
with what I had,

And,
of course, I know
from my mom
“enough”
does
not
mean
“perfect”

I answered
the questions,
provided the care,
and said the farewells
that I could

From here,
I see that it was
enough, for me,
for my son, and
for my mom,
who was mighty
proud at how I
could work
and parent
and say goodbye,
all at
the
same
time

my wings have grown

thumbnail_2hofu12.jpgGathering pictures 
to present on my time in Japan,
I found a photo of myself
in front of the floating torii
of Miyajima

I was there. Of course
I remember my awe
standing before
that gate (between
the profane and
the sacred); still,
seeing myself
there inspired
a rush

That all really
happened! I didn’t
just dream it!
Read more…

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