Friday, January 24, 2014

A Farewell

In my last memory of him, he is walking down the center aisle at my brother's graduation, straight to the stage.  At over six feet, nobody's going to ask him to step aside.  And if they did, he would just say, "I'm getting a picture of my nephew, and until then, I'm not going anywhere."

*  *  * 

When someone you love dies, you go grasping for memories like a desperate fisherman.  Pulling them up from the deep, examining them over and over until they lie still in your mind, lining them up as treasures to be kept and taken in hand when needed again - these are the consolations of the bereaved soul.

And then, there is the anguish of memories not yet made.  I didn't get to say goodbye.  He didn't get to meet my daughter.  I wish I had been there to say 'I love you.'  

*  *  *  

In nearly each memory I pluck from the sea, Uncle Dave's eyes are twinkling. He is dissecting religion and music with my Dad.  He is drinking coffee - unflavored of course, the way real men take it - at the kitchen island with Mom.  He is giving Peter a terrible time about the Royals.  I see his laughing eyes, and I see his bearded chin grin.  He moves his toothpick from side to side of his mouth, and he speaks in jokes.  They are his native language.  

*  *  *

In India, I am a lost 23 year old.  Scared and anxious, sad and burdened.  Three weeks left until AirIndia takes me home, and I don't know if I can make it.  In an internet cafe noisy and crowded, I print an email, and I carry it in my fading black purse.  "Dear Lara, Much of what you have for prayer requests is what I've already been praying for you.  No prophet here, just blessed that the Spirit has led me in my prayers for you..." A beam goes up under my sagging heart. Uncle Dave is praying, and the prayers of a righteous man avail much.  

*  *  * 

He sent books sometimes, just because.  A book of essays by Andree Seu that I have read and re-read, marked and quoted.  Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson.  At dinner, I scoop pasta onto red and yellow Fiestaware, every piece of 12 place settings a wedding gift from him and my aunt.  To load the dishwasher is to smile and think of them, my kitchen cabinets a museum of their incredible generosity.  

*  *  * 

The call comes at Dad's birthday dinner.  When the phone rings, Mom says, "It's your mother, calling to wish you a happy birthday," but I know in my heart it is not.  Dad's face is grave, and my mother begins to cry.  I am crying, tears hot and stinging.  At the end of the night, when Anna is tucked in her carseat, and we are getting ready to leave, Mom looks at Dad and says, "I'm sorry this had to happen on your birthday."  I think then, that this heavy, sad thing is also a very beautiful thing.  On Dad's birthday, Uncle Dave has celebrated his truest birthday of all  - a birth into the Glory that this life is only a poor shadow of.  

Happy Birthday, my dear Uncle.  Oh how we will miss you, but you are home and you are free.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Promise

It was after a run one day.

Sweaty and stretching, legs pointed out on the floor in a V.

Out-stretched legs,

wrung-out heart.

So much pain in this world and when the soul stops to survey it,

it heels, halts, falters, fails.

And God said,

"You will have a daughter,

and you will name her Anna Hope.

You will know that though the darkness seems to swallow,

Hope is stronger."

Not a voice heard with ears

but, oh, a voice heard.

Words dropped inside me

like a pebble in a well shaft.

It was not the time for a child,

not the time to be a mother,

message pondered, stowed.

Two years gone,

and life burgeons inside, stomach swelling.

"It's a girl,"

the ultrasound technician avows

and later, the memory returns like a song.

Anna Hope,

He had said.

Upon first wake I enter her room,

she is joyful squeal and kicking legs.

This gift of life overwhelms me.

Sorrow waits and springs suddenly -

a beloved uncle stricken with cancer,

a dear friend with marriage ended.

At night,

I rock her quietly,

and my eyes flood.

The tears of the living on my cheeks,

the hope of the living in my arms.



They dwell together,

and it is paradox and it is mystery,

and I will not hold lightly

the word that was given -

that Hope, in the end,

will win.

"Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope..."
-Zechariah 9:12

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hello, Saturday

We've never experienced the phenomenon of the weekend before.  When we worked for K-Life, our day off was in the middle of the week, and the weekends were always busy and full.

Aaron's 9 to 5 job has introduced us to the glory of Saturdays.

Oh blessed Saturday.  How we love thee.

Sleeping in late (late with a baby is a relative term), making something yummy for breakfast, lingering at the table, reading Scripture on the couch.  There's no where to go!  Pajamas are actually the preferred dress!  It's like a storybook.  Yes, the herald of a true Saturday has turned my life into a fairy tale.

This morning, we made Welsh Breakfast Cakes.

I'm thinking of writing a cookbook called "Mastering the Art of One-Handed Cooking."  Sort of a riff off the ground Julia broke.  

Welsh Cakes - have you heard of them?  Delicious.   An amalgamation of pancakes, biscuits, and crumpets.  You know when a recipe calls for a whole stick of butter, it's gonna be good.

 I don't think I've mentioned it here, but Aaron has begun to drink coffee!  I think it's the 9-5 job.  See what a predictable work schedule has given us?  Saturdays and coffee.  Boom.  Fairy tale confirmed.

 We're trying to read Scripture with Anna, even just little bits and pieces at first.  We're currently in Leviticus...

And by Leviticus, I mean the Psalms.   (See how big her eyes are?  She thought I was serious about Leviticus.)

I'm so thankful for the sweetness that sweeps through this home on a Saturday morning.   The joy of tiny treasures with the two I love the most, refilling our hearts with the rest that the week often drains out of us.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A one and a half donut day

Today was a day for...

putting on the purple marshmallow suit and pink fleecy hat and leaving the house for a walk.  Some days you just have to wear the suit and leave the house, you know?

(And the dog looks at you quizzically because she knows you're going for a w-a-l-k and not taking her.)

You find yourself ending up at a flea did that happen?

You exercise self control and leave the typewriter and buy a tiny basket.  For 50 cents.  Plus 25% off.

Self control is thrown to the wind on the way home because you have to pass the Donut Palace!  You buy one for you, one for your husband.  (Mostly to make yourself feel better about buying one for you.)

You come home and put that purple marshmallow down for a nap.

She wakes up 20 minutes later, but it's okay, because she's so gosh darn cute...

and because you have to go get her out of her crib, which is the only thing that saves what's left of your husband's donut.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

new morning routine

We've got a new morning routine over here.

Things have been evaluated by our quality control (she's four months old, but man, she's good) and processes are now streamlined and efficient.

We start with a diaper change and move to the couch to nurse.  We read a psalm together.

Move into morning coffee for mama and tummy time for Little Bird.

(As a side note - there is never a good reason to make instant coffee.  In a lapse of judgment, I did so this morning, and I was reminded:  Real coffee is always worth the extra five minutes.  )

And then we see how long we can make the bouncy seat attractive before the need for naptime becomes dire.  Mama possibly jumps into the shower, gets dressed, and makes the bed.  Today all three happened.  Win!

It's a good routine we have going on.  So very different from pre-baby mornings, but good.

I'll gladly give up leisurely journaling sessions, making scones or muffins, and getting more than 3 things done before noon to wake up to this little face.  I would even give up coffee...

but for now, quality control has decided that coffee can stay.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

simplicity in a new year and new house

It's naptime (the fourth of the day - short and frequent naps seem to be someone's modus operandi lately).

I should be doing the dishes.

I should be prepping dinner.

I should be checking on those cloth diapers in the dryer because we're finally switching over from disposables.

But sometimes my heart just can't do one more should.  I haven't written here for so long.  My mama asked the other day if it was because I didn't have anything to write.  No, it's not that.  It's just life and all those shoulds and the precious little someone who doesn't particularly like to nap.

We're moved into our house!  It happened shortly before Christmas.  We tried to scramble and have some celebratory cheer amidst all the boxes...but it was a big fat fail.  Let's just say we borrowed a fake tree, and we're real tree people through and through.  That and one's motivation to decorate a tree flags when you know you're going to need to pack it all away again in a week.

As we're unpacking, I just can't get away from the urge to simplify.  It's the new house vibe, I'm sure - all these lovely empty rooms we spent hours sanding and painting and scrubbing, and I don't want them cluttered and messy.  And January of the Fresh Start always bestows a renewed vigor to organize and purge.  We just have so much stuff - anyone out there feel the same?  We did without 95% of it for over three months.  I keep pulling things out of boxes and thinking, "Why did I exert the energy to pack and store this item, and now do I want to exert more energy to find it a new home and take care of it some more?"  I feel like I am seeing in a new light how easy it is to be ruled by stuff.  The more dishes I have (a big weakness of mine), the more dishes will be used, washed, dried, put away.  If I have four glasses tops, then only four glasses will ever be dirty before someone washes them.  Genius!

It's a battle, though.  I go through our dishes and pare down, and then I search the Internet later because I have wanted a Le Creuset dutch oven for so long...and Jamie Oliver thinks they're an indispensable kitchen tool.  People, Internet shopping!!  Dangerous!  The arch enemy of simplification!  I always think purchases on the Internet are made with fake money, but Aaron tells me the money is actually real?!?

Another thing along the lines of simplification.  I'm tired of owning crap.  I'm tired of buying cheap clothes, household tools, whatever, because I think the cheap option is all that we can afford.  I want to start practicing delayed gratification when buying.  This will give time to save money and help me to see if we really need that thing in the the long haul.  So I think this means another stake in the heart of Internet shopping.

And now - the dishes!  But tell me, how do you simplify/downsize/fight the urge to own everything you think is cool because in some twisted way you think it will make you cool?