words between us

February 11, 2017 § 3 Comments

My son is in the luminous stages of love, the sappy entanglements of easy infatuation. Words of endearments tumble recklessly with an enthusiasm that spills unchecked across the miles and throughout his days. It is a lavish generosity of appreciation for which there is never enough time for him to properly gather his thoughts.

From a distance, I understand the fleeting forever in these moments. The logic that measures the optimistic reality of an uncertain longevity against the pessimistic expectations of a perspective cluttered with the jaded assumptions of age. Still, I quiet the caution and invite my own memories.

Early loves are great educators of the impossible. The unlikely certainty that allows us to leap against the unknown bound by promises and dreams that forever tether our expectations of love in pages of old letters freckled with daydreams that parade as plans.

It is the love that comes before the labor of love that is marriage, the work of navigating an imperfect partnership for the grace of unconditional love, and the epiphany of emotion that is unique to the experience of becoming a parent.

On this, a month for lovers and friends, I’m reminiscing old loves and honoring first loves, forever loves and family with memories of Valentines past. The clumsy card stock of elementary shaped hearts and finger paint handprints shaped into talismans of love. Nursery school rhymes and the poetry of true love.

to my son

September 17, 2016 § 3 Comments

It’s been a while since I wrote, but this messy moment invites reminding.

I love you. As you are. No less than your best, more than your worst. Endlessly and forgivingly.

You have a history of struggling against yourself, internalizing false assumptions and pushing away from help.

Note: You’ve nothing to prove, no one to measure up against. You are enough.

These teenage years are not for the faint of heart. Mistakes are inevitable, struggle is predictable; neither is a gauge of ability, only an indication of effort.

Living requires risk enough to fail. You don’t have to be perfect.

Be kind to yourself.

Love, Mom

to my son

April 22, 2016 § 2 Comments

This week I came upon a letter you wrote to someone else. The discovery was a curious accident of poor organization, papers mixed up and gifted to me unintentionally, but the act of reading your thoughts was a violation of trust.

I struggled with the decision to confess my guilt. It would have been simpler to feign ignorance, but I wondered if acknowledging my mistake might one day help you to initiate a difficult conversation with me. I also wanted to be able to begin a conversation about some of what you said and I couldn’t ask you to be honest without first offering the same transparency.

We’ve spoken already, you registered mild embarrassment, initially, but quickly forgave my trespass against your privacy. As teenagers go, I count myself lucky that you are so openly vulnerable and fiercely forgiving. We went on to talk about the girl you care for, how you came to meet and the emotions you had kept so closely guarded.

Tonight a copy of the letter in question is tucked away for your future self, packed alongside holiday wish lists and an emotional goodbye you wrote our first family dog; mementos of your childhood like breadcrumbs that might forever help you find your way to a boundless enthusiasm and untarnished certainty, innocence we too soon outgrow.

Love, Mom

jagged edges

March 11, 2016 § 1 Comment

Maybe love is little more than a pattern of broken lines; jagged edges that belong. The tender places like valleys that do not touch and the rough terrain of old scars that mark our vulnerabilities.

Perhaps the great loves are tiny accidents of fate, chance and recognition claiming self in another; mysteries that cannot be manipulated by efficiencies or orchestrated by arrangement. A beautiful inconvenience and a desperate necessity; one too often left to stories.

He saw in her the bluster of defensiveness and she understood the language of his fears, posturing and preening they pretended a disinterest that was insincere.

the condition of loving

February 8, 2016 § 7 Comments

This summer, in anticipation of our move, I sorted the long procrastinated corners of cluttered shoeboxes, unmarked envelopes, and half-finished family albums for photographs; gathering keepsakes more intentionally into a single box of memories.  Images of my childhood and my children’s haphazardly overlapping in a beautiful chaos of sentiment.

As we settle into our new home, I have come to visit these images regularly; a practice that speaks love and connects me more tenderly to the girl I was and the woman I have become. It is an indulgence of time I cherish, meditative and nourishing to my soul. In these moments, I am at once both daughter and mother. More myself and less of myself.

Today my heart rested on a rare image of my father and I. It is the way I most remember loving him; completely and effervescently, eagerly and devotedly. Without pretense or hesitation, with blind trust and unconditional faith.

1979

For those who know me best, it is a relationship complicated by the contradiction of emotions and experience.  We are broken and bound by imperfect love.

My mother tells me stories of how my father loved me, but I am most torn by what I do not remember. I have no memory of my father holding me or the sound of his voice forming words of love or praise, encouragement or pride. There is grief in this knowing even as there is peace in his absence, it is no more and no less than the truth between us.

My father is a faded reminder, not of his love, but of my own; paper that holds crisp the condition of loving.

Whatever disappointment may have once accompanied my memories, there is now only a mindfulness for the preciousness of love and the richness of distributing it enthusiastically to those I love least they live unaware of their worth.

I let the love I wish for the girl in those yellowed photographs illuminate the love I give my own children, unconditionally.

 

 

 

to my daughter

January 24, 2016 § 2 Comments

Earlier this week Dad and I stumbled across a video – you and your brother, years ago, hamming it up for the camera. It was one of those spontaneous living-room productions, siblings collaborating in boredom.

The first part of the video was painful, you were directing your brother’s performance; an overly articulated, forced execution of a joke the audience could not decipher. I was set to delete the clip until the very end when your face popped into the frame. Speaking directly to the camera, your image consuming the screen, your voice boomed with the comedic timing and grit of a weathered entertainer proclaiming affection.

Love you, people. Love ya!

It was almost physical the way you threw your words. Fearless and playful.

You have long since layered yourself in more cautious performances of self. The world around you has etched away at the tough exterior, but your spirit is no smaller.

I’m saving the clip for the days you hide behind your doubts or hesitate too long in joy. For the time when you are old enough you cannot remember being little, or when you feel too small in your imagination. When the world feels too serious and you lose perspective, I hope your own words echo my love back to you.

I want you to celebrate yourself at five, dressed in your big brother’s hand-me-down astronaut costume, directing play and relishing in the spotlight; commanding sight and tossing love noisily into the moment.

Love, Mom

a year ago, today

January 21, 2016 § 11 Comments

A close friend called at an unexpected hour with an unfamiliar sadness in her voice.

Can you come over?

It should be said this friend was new to my life, old to my soul; one of those rare individuals placed in my path by a purpose greater than our excuses to spend time together.

On this day, she was facing the early hours of a new loss and I was offered, generously, the opportunity to be present in her grief.

I remember admiring her raw vulnerability, the beauty in the honesty of her emotions. Tears like a blessing.

Reaching out and letting go.

It is the only memory I have to offer, the only way I know to mark this day.

So, I remember my friend’s grief and her love; they are inseparable. Joy is not the exclusion of loss.

I carry this lesson in my bones to live more consciously.

My friend did not pretend away her pain, she gave me permission to stand witness to her emotions.

Acting brave and feigning strength is an exhausting act; one that depletes the very marrow of our integrity with illusions of honesty. It is a facade that hides our fragility, something too often presumed a weakness.

Our relationships, family and friendship, are stronger for the tender faults that crack our hearts open further with love.

 

 

 

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