Why has it been so long
since I stood here slicing onions
Breathing peppers, exhaling cumin
Pausing only to wipe sweat and sing along to beebop on WEMU jazz?
Two days in a row now I’ve sat down in the morning with my coffee and an intention to write…and two days in a row I have decided to draw and paint instead. Either way, a very good way to start the day, and I am grateful for that! I am sure the words will return soon.
I created this little Florida scene and thought I would share with you all. It features (one) of my favorite little birds, the Ibis. These cool little birds are common place where I live. Isn’t that just amazing? Not exactly a bird I saw growing up in the Midwest, I will tell you that! Anyway, ibises are a hoot to watch. They typically travel in groups and peck at the ground looking for bugs. It isn’t uncommon to see a group of ten or twelve of them crossing the yard en masse. They make themselves quite at home, too. They don’t seem to mind sharing the space with the odd squirrel or a few mourning doves.
Well, with one exception. Beagles. They are spooked by two old, loud, barking beagles running toward them, and I certainly can’t blame them for that.
Update: after posting I went outside and what did I see but a small flock of ibises! Well played, universe.
approximately how many popsicles my sick girl ate yesterday.
approximately how many times we watched Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest.
approximately how many games of hide and seek we played.
approximately how many times my heart soared in the midst of it all.
We never know when we might be channeling some light. Or reflecting light. I don’t know how it all works. All I know is that yesterday was one of those magical days where it felt like everyone was in the right place at the right time.
Yesterday I took my seat in church choir rehearsal like I always do. Only this time there were four kids in the front row. A ten-year-old boy in front of me put the purple stole up around his ears and made funny faces. A little one sitting to his left stopped in the middle of rehearsal to run to her uncle; her shoes were hurting!
To my immediate left was my friend Jenifer, wise-cracking jokes about the Browns (just like me she has lived in Cleveland and Baltimore–the chances!) and on my right was Judy, who reminds me so much of my mother that I am tempted to turn to her and ask are you a Virgo?
As we finished rehearsal and took a quick break before service began, I mingled among the ushers, greeters, and perhaps even the croissant table. It was then that a dynamic woman in a smart exercise hoodie approached. I remembered her as being one of the handful of parents who hung out during rehearsal. She must have had a child participating in this special 9-11 memorial service.
She was grinning as she said, “This is going to sound crazy…”
I LOVE conversations that start like this! A kindred spirit.
She told me I looked exactly like her late friend Sabine. Sabine died when she fifty years old. She was an amazing friend and human being. An I looked just like her. The woman (her name was Trish–“rhymes with fish!”) sheepishly admitted that she had even snagged a picture of me the other day at rehearsal so she could show her late friend’s children.
She went on to say that she swore I was channeling Sabine. Especially during the song Calling All Angels. How I was glowing and seemed to have Sabine’s spirit. She knew it sounded crazy but I assured her it was not. Nothing surprises me anymore.
I told her about my mom passing and the weird and wonderful coincidences that have happened since then.
I rejoined the choir and service began. As our multi-generational ensemble sang backup vocals for the Calling All Angels duet, I sang for my mom and for Sabine. I caught Trish’s eye. We both smiled. I looked out the window and saw the yellow butterfly dancing, the one I see every week, and sent love to my mom.
Oh, and every day you gaze upon the sunset with such love and intensity
It’s ah, it’s almost as if you could only crack the code then you’d finally understand
What this all means
Oh, but if you could, do you think you would trade in all
All the pain and suffering?
Oh, but then you’d miss the beauty of the light upon this earth
And the, and the sweetness of the leaving
I sometimes forget just how new my three-year-old is to this world.
This morning she asked if she could eat a peach whole. I happily obliged and realized it was the first time she’s ever cradled one in her hands and bit into it like an apple. She’s had sliced peaches, canned peaches, but I am pretty sure this was her first one eaten whole.
She bit into it the peach leaving sweet little tiny bite marks. But after a few minutes she stomped over to me demanding a new peach.
I asked her what was wrong.
“This one has little hairs on it, Mommy! All over it!”
Oh my goodness, she was talking about peach fuzz.
To be fully present to life and all of its details!
Today I am sniffing and rubbing a peach on my cheek, a reminder from my three-year-old that all details of this life contain wonder if we let them.
(Although let’s be honest: nothing about this peach is magical to her. She came back a few minutes later demanding a peach without the red parts. You know, the part of the peach nearest to the pit. If my daughter had her way, she’d be genetically engineering fuzz-less peaches without red bits in the middle.)
Wait, did I just describe a nectarine? Yes, I think I did.
Has your young child shared an observation with their fresh little eyes that made you go wow!? Share below, and thanks for reading! ~ Sarah
The three-year-old who wants a ganilla (granola) bar, and as she eats it, occasionally walks over to silently spit the almonds into my hand.
The now-cold coffee, abandoned after chasing around the three-year-old who is spraying water into the air with glee.
The mail, the coupons, the unread newspaper. The unwashed clothes. The dogs whose nails need to be trimmed. The sweet crowing of a bird out back.
These moments that are so ordinary. You can almost miss them. Sometimes I am bored in them, sometimes I want to hurry them.
Today, I am choosing to sit with my cold coffee and smile.
After we lit our Christmas tree this year, my nearly three-year-old daughter stood back and declared, “it’s bluetiful mommy!”
She didn’t realize it but her mispronunciation rang true. It is a blue Christmas. It’s a beautiful Christmas.
It is bluetiful.*
I am slowly, ever so slowly, starting to accept that bluetiful is the new normal. That the moments of greatest joy—like Christmas—are also moments that carry so much loss.
Often it is in the little unexpected things. As I was meticulously placing the lights on the Christmas tree, I stepped back to assess (and ask my daughter for her opinion, as though a three-year-old has opinions about tree light placement). Not satisfied by the gaps in light coverage, I removed all the lights and started over so I could get it just right. I then realized I was utterly and completely channeling my mother. I laughed and also shed a tear.
It was bluetiful.
As a kid I never understood all the sad Christmas songs. How could a holiday full of so much joy inspire so many sad tunes? And why did so many adults make such a fuss about the fact that I was so full of joy at Christmas time? How could it be so difficult, I used to wonder, to find the joy in the season?
Last year was a difficult Christmas. It was the second Christmas without my mom, and somehow it was much more difficult than the first year she was gone. I knew the first year would be hard. I expected difficult. But the second year, well I thought somehow it would magically all be OK again. And when it wasn’t, I was let down and angry.
This is the third Christmas without my mom. This year I am expecting the sad moments intertwined with the joy, like lights strung on the tree.
I know that I’ll tear up when I pull out the sweet Mickey Mouse ornament she purchased for me when I was not quite a kid anymore but not quite an adult.
I know that there be joy though, too. My daughter seems to have inherited my enthusiasm for the holiday. She marvels at the lights on houses, she points excitedly to any and all depictions of Santa Claus, and as she curls up on her pillow at night, she whispers “Santa Claus is coming!”
It is all so bluetiful.
I will do my best to delight in her unadulterated joy as I play (just a few) sad Christmas songs in the background. (And maybe even adjust the Christmas lights on the tree one last time.)
How is your holiday season going? I hope it lands gently for those who are missing loved ones. -Sarah