As I bee-line towards the East Coast over valleys and states, I have realized the irony in my temporary escape:
My father, bound in dependence and adult briefs in the corner of an assisted living home, re-iterated his death wish to my sister just before my plane took off.
My mother, buried in years of depression that had been washed over by alcohol and pain pills, was headed to the hospital for presumptive liver failure.
Yet here I was, strapped in and headed to a national conference where I would be surrounded by patients whose greatest wish is to simply stay alive.
I am traveling from those who don’t care to stay alive, to become immersed around those who would do anything for it.
What a divine coincidence.
Meditation and freedom, surfing down white clouds. Dancing on the Sun, White Birds, and Gorges in the mountains. Old friend reunition and dissembly. Birthday celebrations. Christmas eve excitement. Blessed remix: Nahko Bear and Tem Blessed. Laughter turned to tears: sinking to my neck in powder. Afterlife ponderings and a Christmas miracle: a sliver of silver.
Millions of colored lights, frosty breath, rosy cheeks. Eggnog and rum, crowded together plucking crab. Seeing the mechanics of Santa’s workshop for my first time, and spending my first Christmas with small children. Realizing the transformation my sister has completed: incredible mother, superhuman bearer of another; and embracing my unbelievable luck to share DNA with such a remarkable human.
Christmas dinner with the elite. Warm with expensive wine, new acquaintances, new goals. The house of my dreams, and the graciousness that I aspire: welcoming all, feeding all (with leftovers), providing gifts for all, caring for the tiny humans of all. Inspired by an inventor: Q Hydrogen Power. A new favorite friend: “teacup” house pig/wolverine.
The proprietor of my heart: such drastic changes now. Smart beyond his years, learning to ride on the back of a bike or aim a spray bottle for attack. He can blow his nose (somehow this is the most baffling to me). The brief windows between illnesses and infections expose his expansive spirit: he is gifted. Small beads of his personality are beginning to show: kind and playful with other children, loves to make others laugh, candid and direct. His tiny brother rooted in the womb is acquiring drastic changes, too: a calmer persona, an animal calling (a monkey, in contrast to his wild brother who had humpback whale bellowed into his womb).
Every time I pass back over the mountains, he has morphed. He is no longer a staring, squirming infant, or he is no longer a babbling, giggling baby. But this time, I arrived to find a walking, clever, independent toddler. This strange child, because he is now a child and not just a baby, plays games and rides his four wheeler in the living room and holds his own bottle as he falls asleep. He does as you do, tries to make you laugh, and knows exactly what he likes and what he doesn’t.
Time is ridiculously subjective. Just a few days nestled in the snowy valley of the mountains, and it lifted and rejuvenated my heart as much as a full week on any beach.
She tested hundreds of recliners as I chased his wobbly steps through the maze of chairs and couches: I’d throw her a nod of approval or point to which fabrics I liked before running after him again. We gazed at cowboys singing country-flavored Christmas carols while munching on pulled-pork and laughing off our chairs. My father’s smile, one of the genuine ones and not the strained type I have seen far too often lately, as I followed orders and shyly tapped on the unfamiliar shoulder of a black coat. The unforgettable joy of waking up and rolling over to see my favorite face bouncing and smiling at me. Juicy eggs and Donald Trump hair in the bathtub. Fondu and crispy peppers with the most elite around us. But my priceless favorite: trudging back to the car, with him exhausted and heavy in my arms, smiling at the glistening world around us. I wrestled him into the car seat alone, and as I growled and knawed at the furry beanie in his outstretched hand to his continuous laughter, I realized I would do anything – absolutely anything – for this tiny human.
You are deliberate and precise,
I have a way of flailing.
I have ambition and drive,
You have a way of caring.
We smooth each others’ edges,
We round each other off.
Yes you and I, dear sister,
Are like polished river rocks.
Welcome to this big, colorful world, little one. When I found out you were on your way, I was sitting at home on a Tuesday night. I had just let a family friend into the house, who was waiting for Justin to come home. When your parents arrived a few minutes later, Justin went outside to talk with him, and your round mother came waddling up the stairs to the bathroom. I shouted to ask her how their dinner was, and she replied, “It was great! We’re going to go to the hospital, I think the baby is coming! But I have to poop first.” And in that anti-climatic instant, my heart gave a giant leap and I knew your beautiful mother was ready. I sat on their bed as Justin grabbed his things, and your mother stood there, beaming and radiating excitement. She posed for a picture with her hand resting under her belly, and that was the first picture I have ever snapped of her where her smile was absolutely genuine and full of delight. Just seven hours later, you entered the world. When I saw you, my first words were, “I thought babies weren’t supposed to be cute right after birth!”. You defied all conventional notions, from your adorable debut to your quiet contentment throughout the next few days. You were patient as we fumbled with clumsy fingers to wrap your blankets, but we slowly learned. Your dad described this learning process with the statement, “Let’s just try it and see what happens”; and so your life motto was created. Little one, there is so much I wish to tell you. But for now, grow slowly, reach for the world, and never fail to keep reaching and trying. Let’s just see what happens.