For one month every year my kids’ ages are one year apart. It’s when (if) I make our holiday card so I write “Andy, Nici, Margot (9) and Ruby (8)” and I pause in wonderment over the facts: I am middle aged and my kids are no longer toddlers.
Our friend died last month. Six years ago when he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia this part seemed far off. But it was a blink from then to now. Just a few months ago he drank chicken broth while he sat on our couch with Margot when she was home sick from school. He spent the last weeks of his in his living room where his loved ones came in and held his hands, played music and told stories. His wife’s love and devotion were astoundingly beautiful and inspiring. Their home had a heartbeat, with every thing in real time. The week before he passed his eyes opened for a second as I sang him the lullaby I sing to my kids at night. It’s the chant I learned in prenatal yoga, that I sang to my daughters when they were in my body. It felt like the right song to sing as he waited to birth into the next thing. He said to me, in a surprising moment of lucidity – the last thing he said to me – “I just love those girls so much.” I felt something Divine explode in my heart.
My kids visited him quite often. What a gift to witness life’s end in such an extraordinary and open way. One daughter wanted to spend every moment at their house. She actually requested to not go to the Nutcracker because she wanted to sit with our friend. One daughter felt conflicted about it all, understanding the importance of showing up but also understanding the discomfort in showing up. There’s no wrong way to feel and our conversations about end-of-life are some of my very favorite parent-kid exchanges so far in my life.
Also during this time we made the shitty decision to put our cat down. My beautiful niece, Riley Morgan, was born. Thanksgiving which was also Ruby’s 8th birthday, Solstice, Margot’s 10th birthday, Christmas, New Years. Lots of company, record-breaking sales at DIG + CO. (thank you so much for your support!) and, Margot was in our community theater’s A Christmas Carol which involved two months of a full-on rehearsal schedule and then 24 performances in a few weeks. She played Alice Cratchit as well as young Fan and an angel. My heart broke into a million pieces watching her sing on stage.
Our lives were full of the good stuff. The legit stuff. As I near 40, I increasingly appreciate my able body, my kids’ growth and evolution, my relationship with my husband, my community, my home, the fragility and beauty we have in the opportunity to exist and create things. Since my last words here, I’ve felt vibrant and alive — In saying that I mean I’m shedding layers of “ought tos” and “what ifs” and getting cozy with my life’s mission. I’m learning to not sweat the small stuff, to say ‘hello!’ to anxiety and then ask it to take a hike, to grab the steering wheel and race toward gratitude. There were so many moments in December where things felt absolutely bananas: the swirl of young life, mid life and end life all mashed up with house guests, daily chores, holiday magic and mayhem.
It was simply Life, Now. That’s what I mean by being full of the good stuff: food on the table, passion, hard work, deep breaths, early mornings, late nights, messy floors, swept floors, celebration, grief.
Ruby just cut all her hair off. She had the best dream of her life last week where she was in a bread baking competition while on skis. We are currently reading Island of the Blue Dolphins and when she curls into my side to listen I trust everything will be ok, which is a feeling I value given the current state of the world (oh our country! with our undignified, uninspiring president). Margot has taken to rising early and making both breakfast and lunch for she and her sister, a new pattern that has shocked both Andy and me. She’s also taken to list-making for everything including our weekend plans with things like “read after breakfast”, “go on a family walk”, “watch a DIY about lava lamps” and “eat mac n’ cheese.” I treasure witnessing my kids’ growth. My proximity to them cannot be close enough, which I know will change at their teenage insistence. Unless I am scratching their backs or making pie, then I think I will always have an in.
My parents moved here, back to their homeland. I am so grateful to have them near but more to the point: I am so grateful them here, now. I feel like I took things for granted when I was in my teens and twenties. I know that is normal, ego-centric, brain development stuff but I didn’t really get the guts of mortality or spirituality. Impermanence was a concept I didn’t take the time to fully digest. My goals were superficial and often directed by others. I was around 22 or 23 was when I learned I knew nothing after feeling like I knew everything. I was sad because all of my grandparents had passed and I was finally truly ready to receive their wisdom, to make time to be with them above all else. I was too late. But, really, not too late. It’s always the right time to open up into a better version of ourselves. I still learn from my grandparents all the time, through my mom and dad.
Andy and I are dreaming about a big trip this year. For our 40/21. We both turn 40 and we’ve officially been together more than half our lives. While we are hoping ‘big’ means somewhere faraway and exotic, it might also mean a road trip to a remote town in Canada and that’s ok too. We just want to adventure together for a week or so (hello, my parents live here now! Childcare: check.). In the meantime we are scouring every nook of the internet to find that magical $300 ticket to Peru or something like it. Do you have a favorite airfare website? If you could go anywhere this spring, where would you go? Let’s dream together.
I had planned to share some of our holiday gifts here but it feels like this meandering blog post can’t handle another turn. Maybe I’ll share in another post next week when I am even more grossly beyond officially overdue for the bloggy holiday gift guides…because clearly I am quite out of fashion in this sphere anyway. (erm, didn’t she get the 2013 memo about decreased attention span and blog posts needing to be less than 600 words?!)
Lots of love to you, friends. Happy 2018.