Friday, June 29, 2012

Missing

Last Saturday I sat in shade of my sister's garage while she had a yard sale.  It was boring, and hot, and ordinary.  We sat for hours and looked at magazines, ate donuts, and made up arbitrary prices for forgettable items.  I felt fine.  I felt normal.  It seemed like just another morning, but then in a moment it changed for me. 

Towards the end of the sale my amazing friend Katie arrived with her three beautiful children.  They quickly discovered the few remaining toys, while we chatted about ordinary things.  I watched as Katie's youngest discovered my niece's charcoal gray baby bunny.  She delighted in touching it's soft fur.  She seemed to experience simultaneous joy and hesitation as she dared to touch it.  My eyes followed her expressions, and I instantly ached for Jonah.  I missed him so much I couldn't hold back my tears.  They seemed to rise like a flash flood and could not be contained.  I sat on the step of my sister's house and wept for the memories I am not making with my sweet boy.  I mourned the chance to see Jonah discover the softness of this bunny's fur.  I longed to have him with me in such a simple moment.  I find in grief it is sometimes the quiet, simple moments of life that are the most painful.  They seem to magnify what is missing in profound and unusual ways.   

I have thought so much this week about what Jonah would be doing now.  What words would he know?  What mischief would he pursue?  What food would he love this summer?  Would he throw horrible tantrums in the grocery store?  Sometimes I try to imagine him in the faces of the toddler's I see in the store or in my neighborhood.  But it doesn't satisfy my curiosity.  I know that he would have been more trouble, more fun, and more beautiful than my simple mind can imagine. 

To escape my yard sale sorrow I dragged Jordan to Great Basin National Park to find some solace and hike a mountain.  The hike was relatively simple, but the wind was ferocious.  Jordan estimated it to be about 60 mph at the saddle.  The wind left little energy for conversation, so as we hiked I thought of Jonah.  I thought about his upcoming birthday, and how I should remember him.  I thought about the pain that plagued me through the weekend.  I thought about the gaping hole in my heart that seems impossible to fully heal.  And then amidst the constant roaring wind and my busy thoughts I was delivered to a moment of peace and clarity.  My mind seemed to rise above the physical stress of the moment, and as I walked I had the sense that Jonah was with me.  I can't explain how.  New thoughts entered my mind, and I knew in a completely intrinsic way that our hearts, his and mine, were connected for a time in the chaos.  The moment was so beautiful that the tears welled up in me as I picked my way over the rocky windswept slope.  Like before the tears came suddenly, and unexpectedly.  Only this time the source of my tears was not the cavity left by Jonah's absence, but the strange moment of healing created by his unmistakeable and beautiful presence.


Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stars

I woke up abruptly at 3:00 am last night, just as I was about to sink my teeth into a dreamy whip cream smothered Belgian waffle.  Suddenly I was wide awake and hungry.  I tried to fall back asleep, but soon found myself wandering to the kitchen to have a yogurt.

In the past two years I have made this midnight trek many times.  When I was heavily pregnant with Jonah I couldn't sleep, my hips hurt, and I was hungry all of the time.  I would toss and turn, trying to force sleep to come, and then finally succumb to a sleeve of Oreos or a bowl of Marshmallow Mateys.

After Jonah was born I would hear his cry in the night, pry myself from the warmth of my bed, and stumble to the kitchen to warm a bottle for him.  I remember leaning over the kitchen sink feeling a  new level of exhaustion.  My eyes were barely open, my coordination gone.  My critical thinking skills vanquished by short two hours stretches of sleep.  Often, as I waited, I would try to remind myself to turn off the lights, and look out the window at the stars.  At 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning the stars are vibrant.  Simply amazing.  I tried to appreciate that I could witness a simple moment of intense beauty because I wasn't sleeping.  I always stood for a moment in the dark, and let my eyes wander over the glowing constellations.

Last night I remembered that feeling.  The feeling of being awake, when the world around you is asleep.  The feeling of being alone, and quiet, and surrounded by the night.  I thought about the stars that I have seen this year, as I stumble through my personal darkness.   I recognize that it is the darkness that allows me to see the love of my family.  It is the darkness that lets me witness the kindness of my friends and neighbors.  It is the darkness that illuminates the depth of my love for Jordan and Jonah.  And most of all it is the darkness that has opened my heart to God's love for me.  I often feel that I would rather be lost in quiet, peaceful, slumber with the rest of the world.  But I am grateful for the few quiet moments when I see the light and wonder of the stars. 


To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.  Thomas Carlyle



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Projects

Tonight I sat on my back patio eating sweet cherries and dark chocolate chips with a day's worth of projects scattered across my lawn.  I spent the day spray painting candle holders, disassembling thrift store chairs, and planting various succulents.  I can't seem to stop myself from buying succulents.

When Jordan is gone I try to get a lot done for two reasons.  First, I need a good project to keep me from crawling back into bed.  Second, Jordan and I together are possibly the slowest decision-makers on the planet.  I took us three weeks to decide where to plant our blackberries.  It took us a year and a half to find a suitable house to buy.  And we have been debating the pros and cons of raising chickens for about 4 years.  I anticipate a definitive decision by next summer.  We are both careful and deliberate, but sometimes my creative soul likes to put a nail in the wall without measuring, or buy a plant just because it's beautiful.  So I tap into my creativity and work on projects when Jordan is out of town.  I am sure this worries him a little.

At day's end I admired my completed projects.  I managed to avoided the sadness that sometimes settles on me when I am home alone with my thoughts.  As I gazed across the evidence of my productivity I couldn't help but remember last summer's project...singular project.  I managed to salvage an old wooden picnic table from my mother-in-law's back patio.  It was in pretty good shape, but needed to be sanded and painted.  Jonah was finally taking regular naps, and I thought it would be a simple project to tackle.  I was wrong.  It seemed to take forever.  When you are a full-time mom your window of productivity dwindles significantly.  My window was unpredictable at best.  I would sand one leg of the table, with a baby monitor strapped to my waist, until I heard Jonah stirring in his bed.  Sometimes I would ignore him and keep sanding, hoping he would fall asleep again.  He never did.  The next day I would sand a little of the table top, or begin a coat of paint, once again to be interrupted by sweet mumbles or cries.  As time passed I slowly whittled away at this simple task in my rare and quiet, solitary moments.

I felt very attached to finishing that project.  I needed some evidence that I could accomplish things and be a mom.  I think everyone wants to feel accomplished.  But today as I looked over the multitude of completed projects before me, and gazed at my community pool blue picnic table, I had a small regret enter my heart.  I wish I would have been more accepting of the season of motherhood.  I wish I would have done less, and set more projects aside.  I wish I would have hurried into pick up Jonah as soon as I heard his little coo.  I wish I would have spent more time holding my sweet boy, even if my picnic table would have remained unfinished.

I know it is an unrealistic wish.  We each have a need to be doing things that are fulfilling to us as individuals outside of our roles as parents.  Projects for me brought some measure of fulfillment, and I was a good mom.  I gave my heart and soul to Jonah, and put his needs first.  But childhood is fleeting, and life is fleeting.  Despite acknowledging my best efforts I still feel moments of lingering regret.  Tonight I find myself longing for another minute to stare into Jonah's sweet blue eyes, instead of admiring another project completed. 


If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly. Thomas S. Monson


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bacon

Our house smells like bacon tonight. The salty scent is a sure sign that today has been a difficult day for me.  It seemed like a normal day. I went to yoga this morning, lunch with my dad, visited Jonah's grave and spent some time working. My intention was to make a healthy dinner tonight. By mid-afternoon frozen chicken was thawing in lukewarm water, but my body felt magnetically drawn to the couch, then to my bed, then to some version of the fetal position; not to sleep, but to mourn. I felt drawn to being surrounded in silence and warmth and softness.

Jordan came home and found me curled up, crying, looking at pictures and videos of Jonah on my phone. He asked me what was wrong, and I couldn't pinpoint it. "Some days are just so hard," I said. "I'm checking out for awhile." Then I sunk deeper into my pillow, and pulled the covers up around me.   

In moments like these Jordan never tells me things will be better. He never says everything will be alright.  He is too honest to comfort me with cliched phrases, and beautiful ideas.  Instead he started making dinner.  Not the half-frozen chicken in the kitchen sink, but bacon and eggs, his specialty.  Somehow the smell of bacon has become the equivalent of love for me; a symbol of true understanding and service.  It is a dangerous connection, I know. 

His simple dinner gradually lured me from the comfort of our bed, to the kitchen table. Once full of saturated fats, he convinced me to go for a bike ride in search of a wild cherry tree.  We found one, laden with bright red, glossy cherries, and we puckered at the shockingly sour fruit.  Then we coasted down the canyon toward the setting sun.  I felt myself being drawn back to life again and away from the solitary sorrow of my room, by the smell of bacon, and the taste of sour cherries, and by simple acts of love.

One does not fall in or out of love. One grows in love.
Leo Buscaglia


video

 One of the videos from my phone.  I love the joy of this video.