Living Like You Are Dying

When the buds begin to show in springtime, I think of my mother. It was the season she learned that she was dying. I wonder what it would be like to learn that you won’t be present by year’s end, yet there is the promise of life all around you. A promise in the buds on fruit and maple trees, woodpeckers drumming, and robins with pieces of grass or a beakful of mud. Crocus with its purple and white flowers peeking out of the ground on the sunny side of the house and in the air the smell of rain, soil, and grass.

In a way, I do know. I didn’t think that I would live to be twenty-five. I didn’t have any hope for the future. I’m still surprised that I created a loving family. A safe home. And, my children and their friends, teens in their own right, still want to hang with the moms for a game or two of Monopoly.

Though that time of turmoil, chronicled in House of Fire, is long gone, I still live as if I’m going to die.

I make a great effort to live with no regrets. I’m already planning our families next Guatemala vacation in June of 2018. It will be our 5th visit to Juan Jose’ and Crystel’s birth country. I have my sight set on a sailboat river tour of the Rio Dulce, Lake Izabal, and Livingston before spending time anchored alongside an island jungle and beach.

Fortunately, Jody saves for the future. She packs away items from one holiday to the next. If it was up to me I’d just go out and buy the same thing year after year.

It’s helpful to live like you are dying. I’m at every track and cross country meet with the kids that I can attend. Though, I did hold back from going to their Nordic ski events. Somehow, I didn’t think that I’d regret standing in the cold waiting for them to come to the finish line. Maybe, next year.

The lilacs haven’t bloomed yet. But, they will. Their green bud promises us that.

The robins will strengthen their nest with mud. I’ll do the same showing up for my kids.

 

 

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Being Friends Is Not Natural

FullSizeRenderI drive past Richfield Middle School and spot Antonio and Crystel a block away. The 12-year olds are walking home from school. Backpacks slung over their shoulder. Track bags dangling at their side. Walking shoulder to shoulder. My heart warms. I’ve always wanted them to be friends. To be proud to call each other brother and sister.

I don’t believe that sibling friendship comes naturally. Friendships among siblings need to be nurtured.

What comes natural is comparison, competition, and mine, mine, mine.

Years ago, when I was the stay at home mom, Santa brought Antonio a Disney princess doll set and Crystel Spiderman pajamas. Santa was attempting to even the score that the four-year olds were keeping.

Why does he have a different laundry basket than me?
Do I get three licorice?
Does Crissy get a timeout too?
Can I help? Crissy got to use the mop last time.
Why did the tooth fairy bring him ….
I took a bath first last time.
I’m growing, Crystel’s not.
How come I don’t get no cars?

Antonio and Crystel looked to the other to see how they were doing.

1132To nurture a friendship between the two I sought out opportunities for them to be nice to each other. This could be in the form of passing a dessert, opening a door, saying a kind word, buying the other a birthday or Christmas present, or letting the other be first.

To enrich their friendship I noticed when someone’s heart was hurt and insisted the children make amends to each other. This could be a hug or saying something they liked about the other. Later when they were older it meant putting the words into writing, which they taped to their bedroom wall.

Even now on Crystel’s wall is a letter to her from six-year old Antonio that says:

1. hes the bes. (She’s the best)
2. hes fune. (Shes’s fun)
3. hes cule. (She’s cute)
4. ses sow moch fun to plau weht (She’s so much fun to play with)

On the other side of the letter is a picture of Raikou Pokemon that he drew for her.

DSCN0725It’s also allowing the children to take space from each other, especially when a sign shows up on a bedroom door that says, NO BOYS! This means you Antonio!

It’s teaching the children that privacy is good and respect for each other is a must.

It’s reminding them that the other was there for them when they met their birth mom and siblings and now it’s their turn to be supportive.

It’s celebrating their strengths and having compassion for their weaknesses.

One will always be faster. “I’ll wait for you, Cissy.”
One will always be braver. “You first, Cissy.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s letting them know that the world is a big place and that the Richfield Cross Country team is big enough for both of them. They both can choose running as their ‘thing’.

And, in the Spring when it comes time for sixth grade track and one doesn’t want to join because they don’t know anybody on the team and they don’t want to be a loner, they can count on the other one to look out for them and save them a place on the grass.

I pull the car over to the curb. Antonio and Crystel recognize me. Antonio opens the front passenger door and tosses his bags in. Then he opens the back door and slides in next to Crystel.

I smile at them. “I’m glad you’re friends.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust like when they were little, they look at each other and laugh.