When I reminisce about Thanksgiving, I don’t think about food. If I am being honest, I don’t even think about being grateful. What I recall is the excitement of being out of school, the quiet wonder of gazing out the car window at the rows of pines that lined the highway as we traveled to my Granny’s house, and the creak of her screen door as it flew open and I rushed inside her modest two-bedroom home straight into her warm and wrinkly arms.
I don’t think about the turkey.
Instead, I remember running to the park with my brother and sister and our two cousins. With a coveted cardboard box, we perched at the top of a giant hill that spilled onto an oval track. Squeezing together so we could all fit, we flew down the hill on our makeshift sled. We slid easily on the dead grass beneath. The nippy air rushed our faces. My heart raced with a giddy mix of joy and exhilaration. Then, having reached the bottom, we sprinted back up the steep hill to do it again with the same joyful tenacity as a Golden Retriever fetching a ball. We were tireless despite our pounding hearts, icy hands, and the tattered box that eventually disintegrated into pieces. I felt free.
I don’t think about sitting around a crowded table or how the brown gravy spilled onto my green peas.
Instead, I remember curling up next to my Granny and reading from her stack of magazines. I remember the gentle roll of her belly with each inhale and exhale. I folded into her quiet breath and wasn’t distracted by the din of the television or the mundanity of adult conversation. I felt safe. Read more
Lately, when I catch a glimpse of my face it appears to be melting like candle wax or colorful taffy in the hot Florida sun. It evokes the hollow horror of Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream.” Since I haven’t taken any LSD, I figure this droop must be part of aging. I spoke with my doctor about the way my origami shaped eyelids are folding in on themselves, and she said that she thinks I could qualify for the medically-necessary surgery to put them back in their proper place so my vision isn’t impaired. I didn’t know whether to feel validated by her comment or virtually hopeless.
Earlier that day I was speaking with a friend who is teaching a class on the Book of Ecclesiastes and he mentioned its humanistic view of vanity which goes beyond society’s obsession with appearances. The only thing I knew offhand about the chapter is the passage that begins “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
It reads like beautiful poetry, a cadence of simplicity making sense of a senseless world: “a time to be born and time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,” (Ecclesiastes 3: 2-3). A time to be young and cute with body parts in their proper spot and a time to have your eyelids tied up with thread so you can see every new crevice of decay. Somehow that line must have been edited out. I suppose for the sake of brevity, not lack of validity. Read more
It’s the Fall of my son’s senior year in high school. The seeds we planted in the blind enthusiasm of grade school, protected from the ambivalence of middle school, and fertilized with a hearty mix of encouragement and extracurriculars through the high school years have culminated into a small crop of college applications, deadlines, and gut-wrenching decisions. Our mailbox is jammed with colorful college brochures, inviting postcards, and glossy magazines that clearly explain the absurd-cost of college. For months, we’ve binged on the propaganda. We’ve made our list. We’ve pared down our list. We’ve reevaluated and we’ve changed it – sometimes all in one day. At times, motivations and decisions seemed logical, and, just as often, the experience has felt more like a diagnosis of insanity than a direction to begin anew.
It’s been exciting, exhausting, and frustrating. There have been hard talks and heartfelt moments of hope. It has brought us closer in ways that feel like a cherished parting gift which right now we have the joy of opening, but will ultimately close this chapter in our lives. Undoubtedly, the best chapter I could hope to write. It is not lost on me that all our efforts, not just to send him off to college, but to prepare him for adulthood, inevitably mean a parting of ways. Every act that brings him closer to his goals is taking me farther from the child I want to hold onto. Yet I know I can’t keep him. He needs to go and I need to let go. It makes me think a lot about what love means. So often, love is more of a surrender than a holding on. Love is another’s heart that we don’t get to keep no matter how much it has imprinted our own. It’s helping someone meet their goals knowing that getting them there will cost a piece of you. It’s explicably worth the sacrifice, the heartache, and the cavernous emptiness that makes you wonder if your heart is imploding. Love is the illogical dying on the cross for unworthy sinners that Jesus endured. It’s letting go of what you want to give someone else a chance at what they want. It’s beautiful and boundless. Despite breaking us into a million pieces, it inevitably makes us more whole.