Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ten years.


on the tenth anniversary, we drove to the grave site for the first time in ten years. i didn't remember any of it, except that the drive seemed longer the first time. we found the small paved road that led into the graveyard and parked next to the massive mausoleum that i also didn't remember. maybe it wasn't there ten years ago. we put on our coats and gathered up the white and pink-tipped roses i had picked out. then my brother and i fanned out, he going to the northeast and i to the south, searching for the stone; neither of us remembering exactly where it had been. we searched for what felt like half an hour. i carried the flowers and watched my boots treading over grass and soft earth, forgetting from time to time that i needed to actually read each stone i passed, forgetting i was looking for something, thinking maybe that my feet would somehow lead me there. and as the light started to fail, we met back up in the middle and started to search again, this time together, me walking somewhat angrily, thinking about the irony of what if we couldn't find it and what would i do then with these beautiful flowers for which i had told the florist i didn't need plant food.

and then as i was stomping around, looking more determinedly this time, i heard my brother call my name softly. "it's here," he said, looking down. he stood near a bank of not very tall cypress trees, and something in me recognized that that is where i had known it was all along. i walked towards him as he knelt down and began to clear the small stone of the grass and weeds which were growing over its edges. i had wondered if ten years was long enough to cover the stone entirely. i wasn't prepared for how i would feel to see it neglected, as if we didn't care, as if we hadn't been there in spirit, daily.

i knelt down, barely seeing what i was looking at, placing the flowers next to it. and then i stood and after a minute my brother said, "You didn't touch it. You should touch it." and i laughed through swimming eyes because it was so much a thing he would say, a thing i might under other circumstances be irritated by, and i did and didn't understand what he meant and why i didn't want to. my husband has often said that i remind him of a bird and maybe he is right because i do so much better seeing things from the side. but i obliged.

the marble was smooth, the lettering chiseled deep and sharp and less legible in some places where dirt had gotten in. i read the verse—all there was except a name and date—which i hadn't even known was there. then i learned my brother had chosen it, and i marveled not for the first time at the man he has become. and at the simplicity and perfection of the verse he chose, so much better and truer than any other words would have been.

we squatted there as night fell and spoke of things we never have before. i told him how happy she would have been about his wife and son. we talked of who spoke a few days later at the funeral. most i didn't remember. i held his hand. and in those moments, the night was strangely peaceful and beautiful, and i lost some of my fear of graveyards. and then a small owl, nearly silent, nearly invisible, landed on the ground a few feet away for but a moment before flying away again and i felt as if we'd been visited, briefly, by some kind of magic. by God. by peace.

and then it was dark and time to go.

"as made sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; 
as having nothing and yet possessing all things." 
— 2 Corinthians 6:10


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

evienne's 2nd birthday tea party


for evienne's second birthday we ended up having a simple family tea party, which turned out to be the best thing, and i think we might have enjoyed it the most of any party we've ever had. or at least i did, and in no small part i credit it to the cake that i made — mimi thorisson's salted butter chocolate cake from her french country cooking cookbook. i made a few adjustments, most notably substituting gluten-free flour, leaving out a third of the called-for sugar and frosting it with a buttercream frosting. it was perfection. or near enough to leave me in raptures about it, anyways. i always feel that the important part of celebrations is the cake, and i was thrilled to finally produce a cake that lived up to my expectations. i'm not sure why, but most birthday cakes I've made have only been ho hum and not worth duplicating. this cake, though, made all my dreams come true.

tea parties are some of my absolute favorite favorite favorite things in the whole world, and right now the book that evienne most frequently requests is little bear's friend, in which there is a tea party. so of course, i started having dreams of a tea party for evienne's birthday and then trying to make the logistics of a tea party for a two-year-old and her equally small friends work with my vision for it which was getting complicated. so when we originally planned to have friends over, i scrapped the idea of a tea party and just knew there would be cake. at the last minute, basically the day of, when i realized it was just going to be us, i decided to throw together a tea party for her. it was super simple and contained all her favorite things: cake, berries, cheese, crackers, popcorn, cashews and drinking/eating from adult-sized dishes, flowers, and a hat (flower crown) to wear. and the birthday song, which she also regularly requests i sing, usually directed towards everyone in her acquaintance, no matter that they are not actually there to hear it. we forgot her balloons and did nothing except eat and eat some more and open a present for her dolly, named lucy after the doll in the little bear's friend book. she blew out candles (with some help) and ate her cake and was so happy, dancing in her chair. it could not have been more perfect, and even though i am sad to think of my little girl growing up so fast, i was so happy to see her so happy and to celebrate her wonderful birth. this is so sappy, but everything about this celebration made me so happy. probably because this little girl makes me so happy.

happy birthday evienne! i love you.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

a new year


"on ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."
 — The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

i've always had a thing for beginnings. endings, not so much. i guess that's the innate sprinter in me. so it's hard to look back on the past year, with a new year looming open and brand new before me. i feel full of hopes and dreams and resolutions—or rather, intentions, as i like to call them. it's easy at the beginnings of things to be full of hope and wonder, imagining the mysteries waiting to be discovered, dreaming dreams about all the things yet to be experienced and enjoyed (and eaten and read and written and explored and photographed!;). it's easier to dream than to do.

it's also hard to write about last year as a toddler wiggles like a twenty-five pound eel in my arms. this morning i was awoken to the sound of my daughter yelling "i did it!"—or else, "got it!"—i can't really remember what i heard while half-asleep. and i couldn't help but smile and wonder how we got to this point where our children get up before us and go play in the den by themselves (and then snuggle back into the covers and revel in this newfound freedom).

2016 was a year full of change, loss, accidents, new beginnings and learning. we celebrated four birthdays for the first time. i started blogging again. we took a road trip to virginia and started making family movies. we went to the beach (and now evienne says that's where she lives). we took evienne to the ER and lost our first baby, lars. we sold our first house and bought our second. we hosted thanksgiving. i didn't complete nanowrimo, but i did complete my first whole 30. i rediscovered my love of cooking and also, photographing. we built a compost bin and made plans for a spring garden. we fought, we cried, we laughed, we cooked, we made things, we read, and we were ever so grateful for where we are now.

last year more than ever, i have felt we are on a journey — i and my little family — and i don't always know the way and there is much failing and sometimes we get lost, but still, the journey continues and still, we are learning. one thing i've learned from this past year is my inclination to wander, to dawdle, to observe someone else's path and begin to think it's the one i should be on, to lose my direction. it's easier to get lost in the story that's already written, than to write your own — I mean that both figuratively and literally. it's easier to dream than to do. forging my own path, writing my own story, staying true to the journey i am on, that is the road less traveled, and it requires so much more trust and confidence, because it feels more uncertain. it requires more listening to the heart instead of seeing with the eyes. more pausing to reflect in quiet, less rushing about. more mindfully choosing your destinations, less ending up wherever you wander. more seeking the light, instead of hiding in the dark. more embracing the mess along with the magic, less worrying about what's not going right. more getting out of bed, less stealing those last minute snoozes. more doing, less dreaming.

2017 is a new year (here we come to the part i like), and i am looking forward to the journey we will be on this year. i don't really know what it will hold. i will still be a stay-at-home mom. i will still not have any daylight hours with arms free (except possibly for a few stolen minutes in the morning;). i will still make dinner every night (or mostly every night). i will still be fumbling my way through this motherhood and personhood and adulthood thing. i will still struggle to write. i will still drink too much tea. i will still make mistakes. i will still be learning.

here's to the wild, wonderful, messy, magical journey. here's to dreaming and doing.