Tag Archives: growth

The light changes

On Tuesday I hiked along the reservoir shore with my children. I lay in the sand while they surrounded me with driftwood, became a sculpture: Mother at Rest. We found the bleached exoskeleton of a crayfish, and watched a snake curl up at the base of a tree. The loons bobbed on the waves in the distance, little more than black marks in the open water. The summer light had already broken, changed in the way that tells us to prepare, prepare, the leaves will fall, the snow will come.

It’s all so short, isn’t it?

On Wednesday I sent my son away with four other boys, two men, for five days of wilderness. Today it’s been raining on and off, and somewhere my boy has made himself a space in the woods, is warming himself by his own fire, preparing for this night, the one he will spend completely alone. Before he left, we looked each other in the eye, me looking up, because my little boy is now inches taller than I am, and what I saw was this, a boy who is less and less a boy, who needed me to see that he is straddling two worlds right now–one of driftwood sculptures and one of tending his own campsite through the night–and to begin to let go.

It is tempting to hold on too tight, to try to keep things unchanged. Stay, I long to say, stay small, stay safe, stay by my side. But we’re made to grow. As much as we seem hellbent on stasis, as much as we put all our energy into refusing change–of bodies, of hearts, of minds–we are made to grow, to learn, to evolve, right up until the end. To deny that is to bring about our own ruin.

The light changes. So do we. So does everything. Instead of stay, I say go, I will be here when you come back, to hear your stories, to help you ready for your next step away. I will try to make this world a better place to go out into, and I will try help you learn to stay open, to hear, to carry compassion with you, to know that laughter doesn’t stay, but neither does tears.

Go. Be bold. Be brave. You are loved.


A few truths

There are times I get very quiet here, and it’s because I’m busy, or uninspired, or not home. After all, if the only thing I have to say bores me, then I really have no desire to inflict it on you. Today I drove to buy groceries. Today I took a child for a physical. Today… You get the picture.

Sometimes, though, I don’t write because this is an odd space. The seductive thing about writing a blog post is that it can feel as though you are writing to yourself, or to a specific loved one. The truth is that a blog like this is open. It is a newspaper on a library shelf, one for the obscure country of Jenniferland, read by a few natives living elsewhere, and others–the curious, those interested in foreign policy, those dreaming of trips they’ll never take.

The question becomes, who do the editors of the Jenniferland Gazette seek to reach. To appeal to a potential tourist, one glosses over the matters of poverty, and hunger, and distress. One writes about sunny beaches and elusive birds and shrimp-mango surprise.

The trouble is, I’m really not that kind of writer. The act of writing begs honesty for me. Crossroads has been an exhausting book to work on because it wants to sit at that intersection of magic and reality, where deals sealed with a kiss can steal a voice, and ghosts can pilot a bus, but that magic walks alongside the fact that there are people–men, women, families, children on their own–living without homes in this country. Many of them. It’s hard to write a story and know how much you want to get it right, and also know you won’t. Not all of it.

That’s something of an aside. I came here to say that I haven’t been writing because writing has been hard because I don’t have those warm sunny travelogues to share at the moment.

A few truths. I’ve been waiting, a lot. I waited to see a specialist, and then I waited to get a biopsy, and now I’m waiting to hear that my thyroid doesn’t want to kill me. It’s highly unlikely that it does, but until I hear, I’m waiting. For now, I’ve traded my visible lump for a few tiny holes, the sort of thing a feeble vampire toddler might leave.

My aunt died. This was not unexpected. She had a terrible disease, and it took everything from her. She was warm and funny and loved to talk, and to sing, and to eat, and she stayed that way, even though she’d lost a husband young, even though she lost a daughter. Those things about her were eaten up by her disease, cruelly, because even though diseases have no intent of their own, their actions can feel as cruel, crueler sometimes, than the things humans choose to do.

I had not spent much time with her in years. But…there’s always a but, and in this case, it’s a selfish one, she was part of my childhood, as were my grandparents, with whom she lived, and her daughter. They are all gone now. One headstone, four names, and I miss them all. I miss the dairy my grandfather owned when I was a child, I miss the cows, with their big eyes and long tongues and curiosity, I miss my cousin’s dog, Daisy, and walking her, and I miss being young and having a place that felt as though magic sat everywhere. That was the way my grandfather’s farm felt to me.

It’s all vanished from my life. There are memories that are mine alone now–a wood duck perched in a tree, a flat slab of rock warmed in the sun–mine and the land’s, because I do believe there are echoes of everything–footsteps, water, sun, shadow–held by the earth.

Things happen, and while they do, the rest of life doesn’t pause. There are points in parenting when things continue relatively unchanged, and there are others when you cannot catch your breath, when it feels your children are growing into themselves so quickly, so…there really are not words to describe the combination of grace and awkwardness and need and capability, or to explain what it does to your heart to watch. And that growth can be happening in the midst of grief and fear and all the things life passes along.

Enough truth?

I’ll try to write more often. I have a backlog of wonderful interviews with very patient people to post, so you’ll being seeing those as well.

Peace.