Friday, September 19, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The few beautiful Indian summer days that we are enjoying.  Fall fell fast here, and even I - self-proclaimed and celebrated fall enthusiast - wasn't welcoming.

I made my first batch of stock of the season just as the chill left the air, but we're soup lovers no matter the weather.

Squash made this week's menu as well.  Spaghetti.  Top with a dollop of sauce and a grind of Parmesan and you don't even know you aren't eating noodles.

I went a tad out of my way to stop at an apple stand.  The honeycrisps I came home with are way better than any candy.

We are planning our annual fall Door County weekend.  I thought it might not materialize this year, but that seems to have changed.  Beyond grateful for our trips to the peninsula I have loved all my life.

Taking care of the tough stuff.  About a month ago I started sorting through the last remaining boxes of my Mom's mementos.  My Mom has been gone for almost 6 years.  I've thought about these boxes, on average, 6 times a week.  The obvious reason I put off delving into them was that trips down memory lane can be painful especially when one is not ready.  The less evident consequence of going through the last of the boxes was that then there would be no more boxes to go more memories to more answers to unanswered questions to unveil. There was a little patience in my procrastination...a little holding out hope.  I devoted much of Tuesday to making piles and then making my way through the piles.  I read every letter, card, progress report, baby book, and I looked at every picture, lock of hair, sorority pin and art project.  It was a good day filled with more laughter than tears, and more gratitude than I ever thought possible given the situation.  I learned something that lifted my heart too.  I learned that I was never shy about expressing my appreciation for my Mom to my Mom.  In just about every card and letter, I told her that I was lucky to have her, and the gratitude I had for her filled me with even more thanks that, indeed, she knew it. It was really a beautiful thing.

The next day my heart was heavier as I sat with the unanswered questions, the untold stories and the unidentified objects.  I had to resist the urge to call her so she could fill in the missing pieces the way I knew she would.  She was the glue.  I'm grateful I still have time to ask of and listen to other pivotal people in my life before they take their stories and memories with them.

POVs.  All of this reminded me of being privy to an exchange that my Dad and Aunt had a few weeks ago. They were reminiscing about olden days.  Golden days.  I remembered some of the times they were reliving because I was either there or had heard the stories, but I tried to hear them anew and simply through their perspective. These words from The Sheltering Sky came to mind:

Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.

Paul Bowles is right: it all seems limitless.  Seems being the operative world here.  The positive takeaway from the loss of my Mom 6 years ago is that now I profoundly grasp life's finality. The well is bounded.  Our days are numbered.  Life is terminable.  Because I understand this truth, I get up to see the sun rise and I write letter after letter to my children and I try always to tell the people I love that I love them. I never stop seeking beauty or trying to be better than the person I was the day before.  The world doesn't always dazzle and often I'm worse not better, but I don't give up because the world is a beautiful place and life is too short.

Sunday I will go to church with some friends to celebrate mass and my Mom who would be celebrating 66 that day.  She'll be with us in spirit - strong and sparkling - as she once was in flesh.  Our hearts all more spacious for the love of her.