Sunday, June 30, 2013


I guess there comes a time in everyone's life when you begin to understand that our time here is transient.  We are human. We are mortal. The strings that tie us to this earth are soft and tenuous, and no matter how hard and strong our love for each other and this life may be, eventually they will be severed. 

I have been confronted with this reality a few memorable times before; but truthfully through most of this life I have remained blissfully unaware how fragile and fleeting our time here is.  

As a child my neighbor was taken, far too young, after a brave battle with leukemia. I remember waving to him from my bedroom window when he could no longer go outside.  I remember wondering for the first time what really happens to our spirits when we die.

As a teenager there was a young man in my brother's grade that tragically died in a moped accident.  This struck me really hard because I understood that it could have easily been my brother, or anyone's brother, taken in a single moment because of a simple accident.  I could not imagine someone I loved so much being suddenly gone forever from this life.  This thought terrified me. For the first time I began to acknowledge the fact that the trajectory of our lives can be changed at any given moment by circumstances completely out of our control.

In college I would listen obsessively to Joni Mitchell's album Hejira. The lines that often stuck in the forefront of my mind were:  "We all come and go unknown, each so deep and superficial, between the forceps and the stone. Well I looked at the granite markers - Those tribute to finality - to eternity. And then I looked at myself here, Chicken scratching for my immortality" Yes - we think our lives here are everything ~ especially when we are young without much perspective of the world ~ and then at some point we begin to recognize that we are all just tiny dots in this celestial experience.  

At the same time that I began to understand my own diminutive status in this life - I also became acutely aware that this dot was my only dot - my star - my one chance at life! 

Then this last October I found myself standing at a podium speaking at my grandmother’s funeral.   In one of my favorite poems titled, The Summer Day,  the poet Mary Oliver closes by asking the question “Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  I felt compelled to begin my memorial to GG with these words, because hers was such a beautiful example of how simple and humble, and at the same time magnificent each life on this Earth really is.  Each life is truly precious.  Each life is a gift with wild potential and ability to make change and affect the world. Whether you affect a small circle of friends and family, or become a magnanimous world leader, yours is the one unique opportunity to become who you truly are. As I looked out over the crowd of her friends that were there to celebrate her life, it felt surreal to realize that she was really gone, and it would be our job to pass on the legacy she left behind. When I finished speaking and glanced toward my family I became acutely aware of the fact that I was actually one step closer now to leaving this life myself. 

When we returned home from saying goodbye to GG we were gifted with a few more weeks to cherish our Yia Yia Liz.  I will always remember one particular afternoon when Miles, Ruben, and I stopped by to care for her.  That day she was restless and somewhat uncomfortable with pain. She wanted to listen to music; something to soothe and calm her, as only music could, because music filled her soul {literally}. She put in a CD and the words of the song "Unforgettable" filled the air. I looked at her and her eyes welled up with tears.  I reached out and we stood together in the middle of her living room, hugging gently, as my toddlers stood with us ~ their arms wrapped around our knees.  We held each other there for a long time. The four of us holding on, rocking back and forth. We were sort of hugging and dancing at the same time.  As a "fixer" I am usually the one of my friends that has something positive to say at times like these.  Yet,  I realized that for all the good I’ve done comforting friends with words and hugs through the years,  none of that mattered in this moment. There was nothing I could say to make her better.  It was inevitable ~ she was dying.  And I could not stop it. As helpless as I felt, I also I felt that we were both (all four of us really ~ it is truly amazing how children seem to sense these things) holding on to each other, and silently acknowledging that her life was leaving an indelible imprint on all of our lives. All I could do was look her in the eyes and let her know, without words, that her life was important to ours, and that she would truly - always - be unforgettable to us!

When she left it was as if we all stepped up one rung on this ladder of life. The eldest generation is gone now, and we are all one step closer to becoming elders ourselves. I am beginning to believe that our lives are like touchstones for our loved ones. We will not be forgotten as long as we continue to pass the stories and the photos we share down through the years.  Yet, inevitably the memories will become diluted as time passes.  Eventually it will be our deeds or actions that are recorded that will stand as our testimony ~ if they have been documented. (And depending on what becomes of this race and this planet.) Likewise it will be the hand-me-down of genes that we toss out to be mixed into the next batch of generations that come along. Maybe someday, someone will say: "she laughs like my mother did", or "he has a funny little crooked pinky toe like my great grandmother did."  Either way I believe that we dwell within each others hearts and we carry those that came before us inside of us. 

I will not pretend that this revelation is something new - AT ALL. I know I am nowhere near the first person to begin to ponder my own mortality or place or purpose in the world.  It just seems especially significant right now because I have come to another crossroads in my own life. On many levels my life is constantly changing ~ same as it always has. It is just that now I have personally been confronted with the fleeting existence of my own life in a way that I never have before. I have always thought I would handle such circumstances with grace ~ or at the very least with some semblance of ability. Instead I feel like Joni's chickens - "simply scratching here for my immortality."  It especially seems to trivialize matters even more as I tap away on this keyboard and throw these words out into cyberspace.  Perhaps the only way I can justify them is to imagine that I am documenting my experience here - much like a mad scientist/poet might - to pass these stories down to my boys. So hopefully - looking back - they can have some reference of where we were at the time.

Perhaps because of all of the challenges we have been handed over the last year and a half, I have become acutely aware of how truly blessed I am in this life.  Most days I still feel like I am still seventeen years old, and I am married to the love of my life.  I adore our home and all of the hopes and dreams we are growing & building for our future.  As overwhelming as it can seem to juggle all of this reality pouring into our lives lately, I love nothing more than watching this story as it unfolds through the wide and curious eyes of my children.  In fact, with them in tow, most everything feels fresh, new,  and alive again as the seasons continue to change around us.  While hanging out with my boys I have come to realize that I still feel like a kid myself. This world truly amazes me and it feels like it always will. Each time I spot a new bird, it takes my breath away with childlike wonder. I have noticed the same fascination in Miles. He loves to tell me when he hears the call of a Chickadee or spots a Cardinal in a tree. I see it in Ruben too. His vocabulary is rapidly erupting these days, and he calls out "bwirdie" and points to every avian friend he sees. I hope this spellbound addiction I have for the natural world was passed on in some gene to my boys. It is something that fulfills me and sustains me on a daily basis.  It gives me a sense of peace that the rest of the world will continue to grow and change around me, and everything will go as it naturally does and should, back to the earth.  Only to begin again.

Lately, while I work intensely to document our lives I found myself wondering what memories my boys are forming from their perspective right now.  What pieces of their childhood they will wear with pride, or try to stuff away. I wonder what characteristics we are nurturing in them that they will carry into manhood. I try to see glimpses of who they are going to be right now. All the while they are still unfolding before my eyes. Truthfully, I wonder, so much, about them constantly. They are the most miraculous thing I will ever get be a part of in this life ~ and for the gift of this experience as their mother I am forever grateful.

Which leads me to my closing thoughts. I am determined to accept my "new-found awareness" that we are all mortal, as just that.  Certainly this is not the first time this thought has crossed my mind, but this time I want it to be different. This time I want to try and reference it daily, like a constant reminder, that every day really is sacred.  Each moment is precious. We are promised nothing in this life. Each second is a gift of our making and/or a present from the Divine.  I am determined to cherish all of them.  Each precious moment that has been given to me.  This is the first thing in this life that has ever beckoned me to get a tattoo on my body as a permanent reminder.... though I probably will not.  {I will leave the inking to my husband.} Instead I will just try to make a conscious effort, especially when faced with challenges {small & large} to be thankful for the gift of the opportunity that has been given to me with this life.

I have especially enjoying celebrating each moment with the weekly postings my dear friend Vanessa and I have been doing. {This moment} on two continents! has offered me the opportunity to try to chronicle the simple things about our weeks that, upon reflection, become magnificent snapshots of the one time our boys will ever be who they are at this moment in time.

As I write these words I only hope they serve as a reminder to myself to cherish each and every moment for the precious, sacred, amazing, wonder filled gift that it is. Including the hard ones, the mundane ones, and all of the ones in between.  

This is my "one wild and precious life" - isn't it beautiful!!  Thanks for sharing it with me.  Please enjoy some pictures of precious moments in our lives over the last month.

Ru - mastering the art of going down stairs - at his own pace! 

This dragonfly found me one evening; allowing me to gaze and photograph for a long time before leaving. When I referenced my animal guide book from Vanessa it says; "More than simply a change, you're going through a major transformation, so enjoy the process!" {I am trying.}

A close up of an ox-eye daisy's Fibonacci spiral. A reminder of the art of simple perfection achieved in the natural world.

He is growing so fast before our eyes. He wants to be so big and his ambitions are already so great! I want to encourage his desire to grow up, but I am so in love with child he is right now.

With my baby - on a hike.

My big boy biked/hiked over a mile of trails that day! He amazes me!

My beach boys.

Here we are under one of Andy Goldsworthy's arches. This man that I married is truly the keystone of my life. He grounds me, helps me keep (all of) it together, and impels me reach my potential. (I love him more than words can share - but it seems important to mention them from time to time :-).  Without him I would probably be a heap of stones on the floor right now.  He is helping me find the strength to build the pieces back up again ~ perhaps they may even turn into a graceful arch ~ we'll see!

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