Monday, February 20, 2017

Day story


Outside my window, bubbles sailing past. Erin is over the flu. I hear remnant coughs, but she doesn't want to come inside. We've spent the afternoon outside, reading and talking. I came in for coffee. She grabbed the bubbles. I can hear her singing.

Giving thanks, for new responsibilities, relationships moving to restoration overnight, the wrestle and wrangle of thoughts and flesh, her phone call last night full of gratitude that melted my heart, for good friends and good neighbors. I am so very rich--and not by American standards, but by heavenly ones.

In the school room, sympathy cards stacked, lesson plans stacked, projects awaiting review, my dad's paper scraps of miscellaneous notes about crochet or knitting patterns. The room is darkened because we've spent so much time outside. When I woke this morning at 7:30 (the second wakening after making his sandwich), I felt thankful my kids could sleep in this morning after a week of illness, that there was no place we had to be, that this day could unfold by its own rhythm. I didn't mind the sun had been up longer than I had. I would take all the grace this day had to offer.

From the kitchen: taco night. Coffee. A cookie batter waiting.

I am not creating. I am observing and thinking and recovering and resting and waiting and hoping and everything else but creating. After weeks of drain and hustle, I just want to be still with the people I love. Empty and full all at once.

I don't want to forget the timeliness of song, the way she hugged me on the front step and told me about how she prays (that Daddy would say yes to a cat! And a long list of thanks.) She said I was the best mom ever because I stayed right with her while she was sick, even if it meant I would get sick too. Stayed right by her side, and that meant everything to her that she told me about it often these past days and today too, in case I forgot (and told Shane too). "Not all moms would do that," she said. I don't know why she thinks that.

I am reading The Giver by Lois Lowry for our middle school book selection. And All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen. Erin and I are reading a story about Corrie ten Boom.

Around the house, sticks to pick up in the yard, onion grasses and other weedy things to pull. Dirt under my nails. This spring teaser of a day (the last few days) awaken something deep and primal--a need for basics and roots. My dad hated winter because he was always cold, and the cold air gave him chest pains--the season was brutal. I remember hoping for a mild winter for his sake, and lately a sadness that, among all other things too, he isn't here to enjoy these mild temperatures. I got an issue to one of the Taste of Home products he sent as a gift subscription. They'll run out one day. I feel too keenly aware of that. And I got an email of a lovely hat and scarf pattern I would have shared with him. I will have to learn how to do it myself. There are moments, powerful and fleeting panic in all of this, that he's no longer alive for me to call when I forget things or wonder. Boo. I swallow it down, the panic. Down, down.

I am hearing scampering squirrels through the leaves. Bird song all around. The crackling clapping of stubborn oak leaves that hang on and on through the winter. And the occasional sound of a teenager calling out, "Mom!" because there are questions to ask and things to need. Somewhere, there is the buzz of a chainsaw. Oh, woodslife. I'm glad you're mine. This is a good life.

A view of my favorite things:

From Valentine's Day

A text to him on the last day I saw him, when he taught me the Tunisian crochet stitch.
Video team behind the scenes with Kathy

Sheets on my bed, a night's comfortable sleep

School with no walls

New shoots.

Old bricks

Hanging out with this ray of sunshine

At the table, a plan for tea with my girls. Something with scones and jam and clotted cream. And maybe something chocolatey. Something grounding, centering, on all that is simple and lovely.

On valentines and love

We baked cookies in the old neighborhood and delivered them on Valentine's Day.

My kids and I would walk from house to house and drop them off at doors. If the weather was too cold, I'd drive. My kids learned about giving and about thinking of others. And while the door to friendships I had hoped would open didn't, we all learned a valuable, valuable lesson on love. Do it anyway.

When we moved here, my kids still wanted to deliver cookies to our (new) neighbors. That first Valentine's Day here, that first year here, that walk to a neighbor's house seemed the longest and hardest. I had to remember the example it set for my kids--do it anyway. They were excited, and always had been, to be bearers of treats to people. This was no different for them.

I still remember my utter amazement and delight the time we came home to find a red box gifted to my girls. I probably cried. (Oh, hope restored!)

This year, unexpected sadness. My dad died. I had a funeral to plan. I had his affairs to wrap up in a county an hour and a half away (each way). A sister to check on. Appointments at offices. Homeschooling my kids. An upcoming portfolio review. And then Erin got sick with flu. (And even this list is not the full list ...) When Valentine's Day came, I already put off our tea party for a meeting with an advisor. Erin wasn't even sick at that point, but the week ahead was weighty enough on paper.

My kids still got the Valentine morning trail of hearts to the breakfast table. They had, each, a little box of chocolate and small gifts waiting for them (water bead bracelets and Beanie Boos). We celebrated, still, but it wasn't in the way I hoped or planned. And we didn't get around to baking anything for our neighbors (in hindsight--a good thing with flu at our doorstep!). I was surprised how heavily that weighed on my heart. It felt like failure. Because it's not about the cookies.

A neighbor invited us over to give gifts to the girls, and a potted plant of lilies to me. How I wished to muster up lightness in my very heavy heart.

"I didn't even have time to bake the cookies," I said, lowly. I felt so bad. So bad. A Valentine, lost.

Erin came down with fever on Wednesday. Everything felt like heaviness in the house. The review. The estate tasks. The next steps. The appointments. Thursday I went out to meet again with the lawyer--sick kid at home on the couch. I went by the store on the way home to load up on gingerale and crackers and other things in case we all succumbed. I went to the mailbox.

Inside, chocolate hearts for me attached to a gluten-free cake mix and a card. I thought the handwriting belonged to my best friend, but I opened the card and saw it was from my next-door neighbor.

She was wishing me a happy Valentine's day and thanking me for being good to her. She wrote some other things. I texted her immediately. She didn't know my dad had died and that these few weeks had been a hustle and blur. I wanted her to know how much, oh, how much, her words and gift touched me.

Thank you, God.

Your promises are true. Love anyway. That if we don't give up, in time, there will be a harvest. This year, I saw fruit--and it wasn't only a package of cake mix, it was a pouring out of love from all my friends and neighbors, letting me and my family know that we are loved and not forgotten.

Not only a Valentine's Day message, but a Gospel one.

And still counting (10,069-10,107)

flowers from a neighbor
their Valentines for my kids
they made a hilarious Valentine's date video--these two!

and a special Valentine for me from Pamela
hot fires
snowflakes outside the lawyer's window
meeting Drew
thank you notes and a card for Linda, mailed

the hard questions
the stillness and wait of no answer
unexpected changes
Your good in all things
that You equip those You call

her phone call of thanks after nine p.m.
the necklace for Casi
colorful yarn balls in a tote, waiting
the rides out to his house, scenic
food in her freezer, made by friends

Comet the cat
blankets by Granddaddy and TV marathons for Erin
her sweet heart
Fever, headache, lethargy--FLU

for scary things that pass
Slurpees and a stethoscope from a bestie

a review, rescheduled
a clean school room
fever cuddles with my little
and last night, finally off the couch and back in our beds
nine hours of sleep, in a bed, with warm covers!

containers for chocolate chips
a cleaned space for spices and supplies
the mini trampoline
warmer temperatures with Erin outside
Early spring teaser

steam showers

hugs from Becky
the video team
two hawks perched outside the living room
Two hawks for Erin

coconut popsicles
time with Lanie
Lanie and me

Popsicles for hydration (Ok, the coconut ones were really for me)
Greek salad dressing talks with Tracey
a new (to me) mama to write encouragement

On, on.