Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm keeping myself busy. I have work to be done. But today, I really have to keep focused on what is in front of me.

My youngest daughter is out of town on behalf of the family to attend to a childhood friend. This childhood friend, now a young woman pregnant with her second child, lost her husband's side of the family due to a domestic violence tragedy at the end of last week. She lost her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and the step-dad, who took his life after taking their lives. Her sister-in-law was one day from making her high school graduation after a lifetime of struggling with learning disabilities.

This family lives in the St. Louis area where powerful storms have been rocking through there, damaging their car just a week or so before with baseball size hail.

My partner and I were trying to come up with how to talk about it. Tragedy seemed to be the only word that worked.

I was left feeling like I wanted the old days back with this young woman. I have images of free-spirited play with my daughter and her friends on our go-cart wearing swim goggles and laughing hard. I have delightful memories of these girls (a trio) dressed up for Halloween and going trick or treat.

None of these kids had a utopian childhood. But something has gone wrong really wrong.

I want to restart the tape from about the mid-1990's, when these girls were still girls, when I thought that if I was a good-enough mom, then I could protect them and innoculate them from suffering, from evil.

My hope, now, is that my own daughters and their friends have the reserves and resilience from which to draw upon for their own relationship with the divine, their deepest, most loving selves, and to be there for each other. These women are now in various stages of adulthood, complete with children, lovers, pets, work, and life.

To this young mother, may your family grow in love, peace, and wisdom no matter what comes your way. And may you know that you are being held in the light by our family and the larger Quaker community. May you be free from harm.

Peace to you and yours.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This morning my youngest daughter sat at the kitchen table and asked me if I remembered A.B., the kid from her little elementary school class. I thought, and said, sure. His mom was the artist.

Well, he is missing. He worked at NASA and a bunch of his co-workers went sailing on the James River Thursday night. One was dead, 8 managed to stay alive, and Tyler has yet to been found. She learned about all of this through her friends on Facebook.

My heart sunk. He was less than 25 years old, had been a world traveler attending college in Australia, hung out in Hawaii and built his own canoe in high school. He loved the water and the natural world, and apparently, space, too.

Mother earth took him back, swallowing him up.

My mind immediately went to the pain his mother must be feeling. There must be a hole in her heart. I said this out loud.

My daughter said, everyone will be missing him who knew him. I had to agree, but still, his mother carried him in her body, she nourished and cared for him, she watched him grow and move into adulthood. And now, he was gone.

My daughter made some reference to an apocalyptic novel that takes place under water which also has something to do with outer space and aliens. She lost me, but as I write this on the computer, real live astronauts are beeping in and talking about what they are doing. (She has a live feed from the space station on my computer.)

I have another friend whose son-in-law died recently from an asthma attack. He was about 30 years old and her daughter and he were trying to have a child together. This mother loved her son-in-law and was so supportive of their bi-racial marriage. This young family had been enveloped in loved, but it could not stop his death. Her daughter is now a widow.

Yesterday I was with both of my daughters at my grandson's 4th birthday party in a very noisy setting. There were no real conversations, just hand gestures and smiles, when we remembered to smile. His mother is leaving her marriage and my grandson will be primarily living with my son-in-law. They live several hours away from me and my biggest fear(I have several)is losing access to this precious little guy.

My grandson received a NASA baseball cap last year that was supposedly flown on a space shuttle. I wonder what his experience of family is, how he copes when all that he wants is his mommy.

I want the mothership to bring us all back together, in our best selves, whole, never taken from each other. I want time to not just stand still, but to be in those photographic, family-memoried places where even though we were anxious about the future, I could at least rest easier because at least we are all together.

That's what a mother does. We make sure the peeps are all together and accounted for. When one is missing, crazy terror arises until they are found. Our beating heats are frantic until we know where they are. Please God, know where they are. Every mother experiences this, whether it is the child who got lost in the mall or the kid who misses curfew or the teen who ran away.

This is not very useful imagery when your adult children are trying to figure out their own lives. Life is risky business. What's the matter with you, mom. Get over it.

Nobody ever tells us this when we make love, when we are so young ourselves and can't imagine our own aging, when we only know the potential of something more than ourselves as we hold these little bundles of joy or play with an energetic toddler.

Nobody ever told me. And, I wouldn't have been able to hear it. I thought that those sufferings belonged to the old people, because in the old days things were harder. Don't we have technology, an easier life? Aren't we forever youthful?

Lost innocence isn't reserved for youth. We get to know it more deeply in ways we could never imagine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hummingbird Summer

I just have to share some good news... My sister-in-law alerted friends on Facebook that the hummingbirds were back.

I thought they didn't return until the first weeks of June. But I was home today and put out the sugar mixture. The day has been perfect: temperatures in the upper 70's, blue skies and puffy clouds, a nice breeze.

By late afternoon, I still hadn't seen anything. But because the day was so nice, I practiced the harp outside.

The birds and the bees were flying around. Tiger swallowtails were lighting on my blue music tote.

Something buzzed by. Ahhh, as in awesome, a hummingbird. It first sat on my metal patio chair. Shiny jewel-like tones shimmered as its rapid breathing moved its little body.

I continued to play the harp. It sat only about 8' from me on that little chair rim. A breeze kicked up and it flew to the trees nearby. Soon a few more hummingbirds were flying and dive-bombing each other.

Technically, summer isn't for another month. But with these warm-weather friends back, life feels more vibrant and beautiful.