When One Door Closes…

Hi,

Just checking in…this New Year is beginning – as most do – with ridiculously large amounts of hope and an almost equally impressive amount of anxiety.  It’s all about balance…

They say that when one door closes, another opens.  Whoever ‘they’ are, may I call ‘b.s’.  When a door closes, it’s shut.  There may not be another door, hell there may only be a window that’s been painted shut for years.  That kind of closed that is going to take some muscle, intent and a few tools.  And then prying it open can take some time.

No worries, I’m not going to suffocate.  I’ve got the window wedged open a crack, and I can smell the freshness in the air.  I check on that door every once in a while, but I’ve gotta tell you – the damn thing won’t give.  It’s not supposed to.

We’re putting our house on the market sometime next month.  And as every cliche attests – after twenty three years, it’s far more than a house – it is the keeper of secrets and memories, of hugs and arguments, firsts and lasts.  My sneakers are in the garage, placed there when we moved in so I could be ready to run and it is here in the quiet of the morning where I also planted my roots.  It’s where I checked on sleeping sons every night and/or waited in the family room for them to sneak in from wherever they weren’t supposed to be.  It’s where we worked to blend a family and succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed.

It’s where I could hide or choose to be found.

We moved here when I was young.  Now I’m not so young.  I had a new husband who looked at me in that way I had always imagined.  Somehow romance existed alongside emergency runs for Frosted Flakes.  I knew that marriages morph and change – but I had no idea how malleable they have to be to survive.  And we’re still here, shaped in no small part by the moments in this house.

I brought my boys here and even though I knew they would grow up and leave, I didn’t fully understand how the ground would shift when they did.  Their lives and loves and futures so fantastic and I stand proudly on the periphery.  As my sister reminds me – that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  ‘Go find the balance, Grasshopper’.  I’m on an emotional hover-board.  And I’m clumsy.

So over these next few weeks, you will find me in the throes of purging and packing, preparing for a stager to come in and completely de-personalize what I’ve held so personally.  It’s disorienting to pack up the pictures that crammed every mantel,  use too much bubble-wrap to secure the art my mom created and/or the belongings that once were in my parents’ house which provide comfort and familiarity in mine.

And that window?  Yeah, it’s there and I am sure that in time it will open wider and with greater ease.  It looks like we’ll be building a new house – an experience I’ve never had – in a smaller city where there is family who are happily anticipating our arrival, and some understanding of its rhythms from visits there as well.  It will be a new story line – Mimi & Andy’s Most Excellent Adventure – as soon as it begins.  It’s this interim period where one is not yet saying good-bye or hello which is a little tricky for the heart.  Where there are too many moments being packaged and memory-making days on hold.  Can you imagine some of the stories I will get to tell though?  The karma truck is going on the road – one of these days.  I’ll keep you posted as soon as I figure out the right GPS coordinates.

 

 

Nothing More Than Time Passing

Hi Dave,

Yup, the first post since April must be written to you – for you demanded I write  again.  You didn’t forget that I had this blog (even though I pretty much did, and assume most others have as well), you kicked me in the butt in your typically unforgiving-yet-most-caring way and caught me pre-coffee.  No defenses properly caffeinated.  All rationalizations fragmented in the middle of the night when one has the freedom to forgive lethargy, holding one’s doubts as a pillow while huddled in the corner of the couch.  Your timing is pretty damn good.

So what’s been going on in eight months?  Nothing.  Everything.  I’ve been graced and damned, overwhelmed with love and had my heart broken a little bit, thinking it would never mend and bowed my head until I felt it beat again.  I celebrated new life with such awe and humility, that I remembered what it felt like to be drunk with love.

Details?  You want details?  Not this first go-round, pal – the words are swirling around in my head arguing about which should be written first, debating how transparent I will seem, when my preference is to remain a bit opaque.

I can say this – I remain grateful, yet I no longer feel that I can write about it without cliche or some really sickening elevator music playing in the background.  The karma truck was becoming a paean to gratefulness.  Not a bad thing – but a personal thing.  It’s not a commodity.  I’m not selling it.  You are gifted with it or not.  You are blessed with the frightening awareness that there is nothing more ephemeral than this moment and you’re either going to foment some goodness in it – or not.  Your choice.

When I last wrote, I introduced you to my magnificent granddaughter Sienna Reese.  Almost four weeks ago,  my other son and daughter-in-law welcomed Sophie Ida into the world.  She is miraculous and magical, beyond beautiful and/or adequate words.  As I marvel at Sienna already exploring her world with determination and a smile that can change the hue of the sky and the color of one’s day, I watch her weeks-old cousin already turning from newborn to little baby, eyes alert, fingertips with special powers – as they curl around a finger she enters the bloodstream. Two of my sons now have families of their own.  And when I’m not in tears, I am laughing a song of life.

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Balance shifts, roles change, rhythms are re-calibrated.  Andy’s mom passed away in May, and though not unexpected, it is never expected.  Each of us responds to this part of the journey differently – and his story isn’t mine to tell.  But I watch, I wonder, I ache.  I marvel at his dad, who at ninety years of age, gets up every day with the intent to engage himself in his days.  Golf, bridge, speakers’ series, synagogue.  He has taught me how to grieve deeply and not turn one’s back on life.  How to open your arms to the day and those people who fill it.

Life – that’s what’s been going on.  What you do with what you have when you have it; what you choose to do when you don’t.   I guess in the span of one moment and the next, so much happens in the space in between.  The stories we get to tell depend upon the traffic in one’s head, the road maintenance on one’s heart and how close the image in the rear view mirror appears.

“We ain’t anything more than a name and some likes and some distastes, and a story we tell about ourselves.”  (M.T. Anderson) – And what others say about us too, I think.

It was good to write to you…let’s stay in touch.

 

Some Days Define Magic and Miracles and Stardust

May I introduce you to Sienna Reese – the most perfect daughter of my son and daughter-in-law.  This little girl was made in love and born in love (with a powerful dose of determination, grit and strength on her mommy’s part) and is welcomed to the world with a full heart from so many – including this new grandmother.

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There are no words for experiences like this…they get caught in the throat and can’t be fully formed.  Ironically,  I came across this post from The Story People, and it felt right for today.  To rediscover that place.  Perhaps I was never more at home than when I was holding my children against me.  Welcome home precious child, welcome home

courtesy of The Story People

courtesy of The Story People

The Things No One Tells You

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That’s the crib in our sitting room upstairs.  It’s ready and waiting for our first grandchild who is due later this week (of course it’s up to her to decide when she’s ready).  Pretty exciting stuff.  Other than the arrival of one’s own children, there are few other heart-in-your-mouth moments in life.  And I could wax pseudo-poetic on the magnificence of pearly toes and downy ears, that indescribable smell on the back of a baby’s neck, the sensation of little breaths against one’s cheek.

What they don’t tell you is that part of you re-awakens..the part that looks at your child-who-is-now-a-man and remembers how he would cling to you like a little monkey – arms and legs tightly wound around you so that there was no need to hold on to him for he was secure against your body (though you held him just the same).  They don’t tell you that as he anticipates his daughter’s arrival or marvels at his wife’s equanimity and calm or imagines the awesome child that they are going to have, you are left alone with a sense of mild imbalance.  For you can’t pull him onto your lap and remind him that you have been there – you had the experience of awesome children.  Somehow there aren’t words that you can say any longer with the same forgiveness extended – that you’re a mushy, soppy mom who still is completely in love with her kids/men.  And I am watching my son prepare to be a parent.

They don’t tell you that there is something surreal about it all.  How this cycle, as reliable as night following day, moves in a rhythm of its own design.  How you wish and wonder, hope and dream, fret and agonize, invest a love that defies description into years that you feel will be forever (certainly some phases that seemed endless too).  I mentioned this to my sister – ‘when did this happen, Deb?  How did we get here?’  She told me that when I was pregnant, my mother said something similar – though she never mentioned it to me.  Undoubtedly I was far too wrapped up in the experience of becoming a mom to give much thought to her becoming a grandmother.  To think of her children having children.  I wish she was here – if only for me to tell her that I get it.

If there is any dissonance, its feeling so much love that I feel as if the heart can’t hold it all (for some of it must be held back or there’d be no dealing with me – as it is I can be insufferable).   That love?  Oh yes, baby girl it awaits you from so many corners of your life.  But there is a certain love – that love that happens between a parent and a child.  The one you hold onto forever while still letting go – that’s in there too.  And that is the legacy of love you will inherit when you arrive.

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents can do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” — Alex Haley…I promise you stardust.