Day 24 – The Power of One Sentence

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We drove up to the mountains late Sunday night. It was too dark to see the beautiful scenery, but I knew it was there.  I have done this drive enough times that I can picture each view and landmark in my minds’ eye.

It was after 10pm by the time we pulled in and piled out of the car. The kids got crazy excited when we arrived. It was a challenge to get them to bed.  Once they were down I began unloading our gear and setting up for our week.

I had packed breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. We brought our favorite games and crafts. Then I added snow gear, hot tub gear, and everything in between. Late that night I carried in the last of our supplies and paused to take it in. We had never been here by ourselves before. I had never gone on vacation before, just the four of us. Then another thought occurred.

This mountain, this house, this spot.

It was the last place where we were a family of 5. The unraveling was here. I hadn’t thought about it before I arrived. I have a picture in my phone of the five of us sitting around the table, 2 years ago.  Hours after that picture was taken, a turn of events occurred that meant our lives would never be the same. In a sense, it is amazing that everything can change on a dime like that, and yet it didn’t change on a dime like that. It just appeared that way.

I poured a cup of coffee and fired up my laptop. Maybe I could write about this?

No internet service.

Nothing left to do but sit with it.

I reflected on all that has transpired over the past two years.  A move, a job change, new schools, new schedules, new friends (and old ones too).  In some was things are very different, and in some ways the same. I mentally hold up the mirror and compare the reflection of the old Dana to the new one.  The old family to the new one.

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The next morning starts early, whether I want it to or not. I hear chattering and giggling, and the tell-tale thumps of kids at play.  Before long little feet hit the stairs and I’m smothered in warm squirming bodies.  They are ready to go.  Ready for the day, ready for adventure, and ready for breakfast.

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We have a favorite café in town so we know where we are headed. We chat over French toast and pancakes.  We discuss our plans, watch a couple of hilarious you-tube videos and fight over the syrup.  Near the end of our meal, an older couple, who was sitting behind us during breakfast, approaches our table.  The woman looks me in the eye and leans in,

“You have such a beautiful family.”

Tears immediately spring to my eyes as I thank her.  She could not know the gift of her words.

Beautiful.

Strong. Smaller. Different. Changed. Joyful. Complete.

All she saw was beautiful. 🙂

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Because I Know it Won’t Last

imageIt is true that everything in life can change on a dime. Life is full of experiences that mold and shade the lens through which we view things, whether we like it or not.  It is like involuntarily going to the eye doctor, putting your chin on the strap and looking through the refractor. The Doctor flips through the lenses, in search of the right ones.

“One or two? One or two?”

Flip. Flip. Click.

“Now two or three?

Which is clearer Dana, two or three?”

I focus on the letters before me.  I just can’t tell. I don’t want to be here. I thought my eye sight was ok. I agonize, debate, arch my brow and take my best guess.  Keep trying.

Flip. Click.

Then we get to a lens and I know immediately.  It is so clear.  I am still looking at the same line of letters, but now they are bright and crisp.  I see things that I didn’t want to see before.  I see more clearly, and with a lot of time and help, I see beauty.

Now I know how I am meant to see.


It is 8:45 on a pristine Colorado morning.  I walk alongside my children as they ride their bikes to our neighborhood elementary school. Upon arrival, my oldest two kids hug me goodbye, and then line up with their classmates. My baby still has one more year before she too must kiss me goodbye and join her peers. Not today though, today she is all mine. I turn to her and spread my hands:

“Lead the way Cara!”

Her face lights up and her feet hit the pedals.

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She leads the way alright; her way. The paths in our neighborhood wind and twist all through the houses and green space. She tells me where to turn at each junction, and I obey.  She doesn’t care that we backtrack and go the long way. She is enjoying the freedom, the fresh air, and my attention. Her small little shoulders bounce as she fights to command her bike and keep her balance. Wild ringlets stick out from under her helmet and a huge grin covers her face.

“Mom, you see! We are going this way! I know the way, right mom?!

I take deep breaths and I look around.

Yes, she knows the way.

We are finally headed toward home when she veers predictably towards the park.  There is nowhere I have to be. She is calling the shots, and I let her. I let her, because it hasn’t always been this way. I let her because she hasn’t gotten to call many shots in her short years. I let her because I haven’t always been able to be around in the mornings, and I won’t always be able to. I let her because I don’t know how the heck I am standing here today, and I can’t believe I am here, and yet I am, we are.

Today I am here, and so I will take it. Today is beautiful. My heart swells in my throat. I just stand there and soak it up.

imageAt the parks’ pavilion there is a gathering of eight or nine young moms with infants and toddlers. It is clearly a child’s birthday party; complete with cut-up grapes, juice boxes, mini-muffins, and baby wipes.  I sit on the outskirts of their group so I don’t intrude, but I can’t help but overhear their conversations.  They compare notes on potty training, sleep training, preschool visits and tantrums. They shift infants in their arms, wipe faces and fix plates of food, all the while chatting with their friends. I recognize their unique brand of exhaustion; it hasn’t been that long since I was there myself.  I want to tell them that it won’t last, that I too had babies, and now they are bigger and I don’t even know what happened. I know even if I told them, they wouldn’t believe me. It wouldn’t help them.  Today is all that they can make sense of. All that I offer is a warm and tender smile of solidarity.

I turn my attention back to my wild and free youngest child.  She climbs and slides and leaps like she doesn’t have a care in the world.  She is blissfully unaware that this stage of her life won’t last. She only knows today.

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Next year I will walk the same path home from the elementary school, but I won’t have my buddy by my side. No one will tell me which way to turn, or divert me to the park. I will feel happy and sad, lonely and wistful. I will enjoy the beauty of the walk, and I know it won’t last.