James Taylor was singing on the television as we were cleaning up from dinner tonight.. ahh, there's a way to get ladies to support public television. Where do I send the check? Ladies like me, raised up on JT's sentimental crooning, songs sung with girlfriends with arms slung around each other's shoulders and usually a few beers under our belts. Then, ten years later singing those same songs quietly in the dark to my dozing babies because the lyrics came automatically in my own foggy brain. I was weepy tonight and I grabbed Ally as if to dip her, instead cradling her head and shoulders and we stood swaying as I rocked her and sang Sweet Baby James along with the TV.
"Do you remember me singing this song to you?" Nope. But she let me hold that portion of her that I can still fit in my arms and she didn't pull away. I grabbed Olivia as she walked out of the bathroom still fixing her hair and I squeezed them both very hard one in each arm, kissing their foreheads and telling them how much I loved them. A little weird but they're used to the odd grab and kiss so not sure it registered how badly I needed to hold them at that moment.
I blogged in September about Ally and her friends doing a benefit walk for cancer in honor of their friend battling leukemia. That friend lost her fight this weekend. Her mom blogged during the last nine months and reflected this weekend that this arduous walk with leukemia took the same amount of time it took to bring M. into the world--a crushing and ironic connection of the dots that felt for me suddenly like I was walking on the floor of a cruel fun house--how does a parent stay upright through all of it? Her posts were written with raw and sublime honesty so that we could be witness to the purity of her love, the agony of her fear and in the very end those final moments as her daughter slipped peacefully away. As for M, I mostly knew her through the funny stories I heard from Ally and Chip and then lately from her own mother's words. M. was fierce and funny, honest and original, a tomboy and a princess. She was the quintessential daughter, sugar and salt and fire.
I find retreat these days in being as thoroughly present in my own happy life as I can be in as many minutes of the day as I can remember to be. It's not easy to always be grateful and present, but it's sort of like yoga in that it can't ever be bad for me to try. Much of the good stuff in my life is within my control, the rest is simply luck. What I can control, I can strive to honor. I can hug my kids and my husband willy nilly and enjoy every minute with them when I'm not yelling at them. I can express my love whenever I feel it and that may get weird for the occasional stranger who treats me right. I can take the odd minute each day to enjoy a moment of sun on my face, stroke a baby's cheek in a hallway at work, listen to the birds as I sip my morning coffee and smell the flowers soon to come. It's a small offering of karma to the universe in the name of a girl who unjustly lost the luxury of spending her own stolen minutes.