Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.
Helen Keller

Well, it's happened again. The school year has slipped through my fingers like so much shifting sand. It happens every year and still somehow it's a surprise when it's all come to an end so quickly. And this year it's all the more so because it is Ainsley's last year of preschool. I cannot believe I am at this precipice so soon. I look down from this height and see a cliff that, sheer though it may be isn't all that scary. Progress is good. Kinder is a safe place to land. It's the right time for it yet my heart (and throat) has more than a little catch in it these past few days.

For nine years I've had a little lovie at home with me. It surely doesn't seem that long ago that I'd tote Emerson with me everywhere I'd go. We were constant companions. For three years it was just the two of us all day long.

So tiny and perfect and sleepy. That girl always slept like a dreamer. Still does. Dreams deeply, thinks deeply, feels in the depths of her almost nine year old heart. Yesterday she came home from school so happy that she'd finished reading a book about Helen Keller. She's completed a school unit on Helen and knows more about her than I ever did.

Yesterday she was telling me and Ainsley about the story. How she was in a group reading it with others and when she got to the story's end she had tears pooled in her eyes. For the Scarlet Fever or meningitis that took her sight and hearing, for the battle that came in trying to navigate the world without those senses that we all take for granted. For the maddening struggle to get the concept that every object has a unique word identifying it. But yesterday my girl wept for the beauty that was born in the struggle...through the struggle. That because of Helen's tremendous scrappy perseverance and strength she learned to communicate in a way unknowable to most people who walk the earth. She became the first blind and deaf person to ever receive her bachelor's degree. That forty-six years after her death we're all inspired by her life.

I wanted to stop the world from spinning in that moment. To pause time and forever watch the way Emerson's eyes glistened as she told of the amazing beauty that came from ashes. The maturity in her outlook floored me and once again I was humbled by what a beauty the little love has become. Oh.my.heart.

And so it is the week we celebrate our second-born's achievement - the milestone of moving on and into elementary school. And celebrate we shall. But right now my heart is thinking of my hope fulfilled. The girl who burst into the world and cranked up the color and lights and beauty. So much beauty.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."
Mark Twain

I love this picture for so many reasons, not the least of which is that my mom took it. It's a glimpse of what she saw in us girls and wanted to remember. I can imagine how happy she was to have my sister and me in the kitchen with her prepping something for a party. Some of her most happy moments were in planning for and preparing everything for a party she would host. I'm tipped off that a gathering was in the works because the big stainless steel coffee pot is out and at the ready in the background. It only came up and out from the basement when people were coming over. I love that I look nearly identical to Ainsley in this shot. And so I can completely imagine my mom's glee in looking in on a little girl of only five happy to be helping the way that I look at my own precious mommy's helper. Though I'm reasonably sure we weren't offering a lot of true "help" to the process. I love that my sister is right next to me and that we're working together and smiling easily. I love that on the back of the photo in my mom's own hand the words "Christmas 1973" are penned in her consistent cursive. It's a snapshot I'll ever treasure.

It's almost Mother's Day so naturally my heart is turned toward thoughts of my mom as it ever has been for the past two months. Though we didn't always spend the day together when miles and gnarled neurotransmitters prevented our connection, we were always close at heart on the second Sunday in May. This year she's close at heart more than ever before. I feel her presence in the deepest part of my heart. In the corners that no one else sees, I sense her warmth and reassurance. I can almost palpably feel her enveloping hugs if I close my eyes and remember. Oh, the gift of a good memory. May it ever be mine, dear Lord.

Though I am still often drenched in grief and certainly a good bit of sadness, I celebrate this day with a new found memorial and hope. You know that mother's heart that revels, I mean actually truly revels in helping her child to experience joy in something simple? That heart that spends more time in the girls size 7-10 section of Carson Pirie Scott than the misses section and is all the happier for it. The heart that celebrates fully when their daughter is ecstatic about a new haircut or the rainbow toss pillow for her bedroom...all while she knows her own hair needs a trim and some color like water in the desert? It's that mother's heart we all long to have. To truly live out the gospel in our mothering by willingly (gladly, even) putting the needs of our littles before ourselves. This is what my mom did and this is what I shall do for her this first Mothering Day (as it's called in Great Britain) that I will spend without her.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What Remains

It's been four months since I last posted anything here. I haven't been silent because I didn't have anything to say, but rather because I had everything to say. I sit on the other side of the screen forever changed. I'm still the same one who feels things deeply and types things out and laughs in tense moments. But now I'm that person without a mother alive on the earth. I am still trying to reconcile it all. What it looks like to live in a world where the woman who poured her life into mine no longer breathes the same air that I do. To look up through the leafy trees to see the shimmering sun and know that the woman who raised me isn't anywhere to be found on this green earth. There just aren't enough words to contain the whole of it and that's saying something because you know I'm not known for my brevity.

But there's a story to tell. A really beautiful story about redemption and healing and love--so much love! You cannot begin to imagine how much love washed over me as I experienced the sacred, holy, unmatched encounter that came from watching my mom transition out of this life. All that remained in those moments was unfettered love. Just simple uncomplicated beautiful love and the promise that it never ever fails.

I'll see her again. One day. I don't want to be too eager for it. There's so much living I have left to do. And yet, some days I'm not sure how to so much as put one foot in front of the other with what remains. My mom would tell me to do the best I can and that's exactly what I'm going to do.