Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Seventy five years ago. And now

On this day in 1949, my parents were joined in matrimony. They had a wonderful partnership, which lasted forty-seven years, till my father died in 1996. They had their challenges, of course; I witnessed them from the inside. But they met them squarely, and love endured. I pray they're looking down on my two, my son almost two years married now, and my daughter making the commitment in just a few weeks. I'm thinking a lot about marriage today, how even the charmed ones are wildly imperfect, and no one other than the couple knows what happens between two people who pledge to walk through this earthly life in tandem. I imagine there has to be some indefinable magic, a sustaining friendship, and maybe also a lot of luck. Love is primary, yes, but you have to keep choosing it. I suspect it helps to start with people of bedrock good character, stubborn faith, emotional resilience, and a liberal sprinkling of beneficial karma, too. 


These two lovely couples are getting married in July, one at the start of the month and the other at the end. And last night, we got news of a third member of my daughter's cohort group who is planning to tie the knot at City Hall at mid-month. Three weddings of kids who started out together, all in a cluster. Tell me, friends, what bit of wisdom would you share with these couples standing of threshold of saying "I do"?


 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Saturday outings

We took our son's in-laws to see the new wing of my husband's museum on Saturday. It really is an impressive building. He also gave them a behind the scenes tour of his department, explaining how the ichthyologists do their work. We saw two of the special exhibits, the one about elephants, and one called Invisible Worlds, which is about life at the microscopic level. I especially loved being immersed in the visual narrative of the second exhibit, losing myself in the swirling images and color. After, we all went out to dinner, and as always when we spend time with my son's wife and her family, it was easy, warm, and good. Here are some pictures (including rare full body snaps of me).



 
 
 

 __________

In the evening, after our son's in-laws were back on the train on their way home to New Jersey, our daughter's soon-to-be in-laws arrived. They were sleeping over with us after spending the day with our daughter and their son/brother, having driven from upstate to offer support in our children's time of grief. My daughter and her love are just so sad. It is excruciating for me to just stand back and allow them to manage what they are going through, I want to jump in and fix it all, as if I could possibly take away their pain. I can't. I just have to watch and know that they are struggling, that they are reliving again and again waking up and finding that Munch had died. My daughter had set her alarm to check on him every two hours through the night, and when the 3AM alarm woke her, he was gone. "We wailed for hours," she told me. I cannot even imagine it. They were so connected to that dog. He made my daughter so happy. No matter what kind of day she had had, he was there to cuddle and coo with. And now they are in the apartment with his toys everywhere, but he's never coming back home. I think he chose his time. My daughter described how, the night before, he came to her bedside and nuzzled her hand, and she petted him peacefully. I think he was saying goodbye.




Friday, June 7, 2024

A breath at a time

I did the video call with my potential new book subject on Wednesday afternoon. I loved her at once. She seemed kind, and humble, despite having reached the stratosphere and making history in her chosen endeavor. Now she has a new mission, born when she and the baby she was carrying almost died. Yesterday she chose me to be her collaborator. 

So now I know what my next project will be, though the details are yet to be worked out, and we won’t get started in earnest till the fall. I feel smiled on by fortune, even though my heart is shredded for those I love who are grieving such a cruel loss. 

“This innocent little being entrusted to our care and we didn't save him," my daughter said last night. Her dad and me, and her brother and sister in law, sat with her and her soon to be betrothed around a table on their roof, eating take out. One of their friends came by and dropped off cupcakes. Another brought a home-cooked casserole.  

The bridal shower is in a week. I asked my daughter if she wanted to cancel it. "No," she said. "Life keeps on." She and her love are so very sad, but they are taking care of each other, too. This being human is holding two contradictory truths at once, and allowing them both to breathe. No way out but through.

 

Photo by Danielle Lee

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Heartbroken

 

Our little guy Munch died last night. He had been ailing ever since an emergency surgery he had in February. He never really recovered. He was scheduled for an MRI today, but didn't make it to morning. My daughter and her love are lost. I have no good words, just tears. I can't seem to stop their flow. My friend Debbie said, Sometimes, the dog decides. I have a Zoom call this afternoon for a possible new book project and I can't seem to pull myself together. I know it's because I'm hurting for my daughter and her love. Almost like there's no separation. I read that some of a child's cells remain inside the mother after the infant is born. They literally live inside you for a lifetime. Those cells are weeping. Debbie just texted me again. It’s deeply sad. I know. Go on the call and focus. Munch insists! He was only four. His time was too short.


Monday, June 3, 2024

Lifers at the farm


One of their group, second from right, is getting married three weeks before my daughter, and she decided to do her bachelorette getaway at the farm where she and her K-8 classmates spent weeks and summers together as children. The farm staff posted this pic on their social media, reminiscing about when they first met these five beautiful young women as second graders on their first farm trip. I heard they all had a great weekend revisiting their old haunts. I just wanted to post the picture of these friends who started out together as four year olds and, despite navigating rapids along with the way—how I remember the fifth grade girl wars, when their wonderful teacher would send them out of class to solve the drama during long, deeply emotional huddles on the school fire escape! They have all grown into five very distinct adult personalities ("We've all just become our mothers," my daughter laughs), with a teacher, a psychotherapist, a food techie, an art curator, and a digital content producer among them, but they still cherish the sisterhood, practice friend therapy with one another, and make it work. 

 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Bed & Breakfast


The season of house guests is here again. Then again, is there ever an off season here at Arrindell Arms Bed & Breakfast, as my husband refers to our apartment? My cousin Andrew and his two daughters were with us for the week, the one on the left above recently graduated from medical school and doing her internship in OB/GYN in Jamaica, and the one on the right fresh from her graduation last weekend from Episcopal High School in Virginia, where she was a boarder. She heads to college in the fall. 

I made the three beauties pose for my camera before they went off into the city yesterday for all manner of exploration. They are a pleasure to host, all of them lively conversationalists who make themselves breakfast every morning from whatever offerings they find. My only task in welcoming them (other than cleaning the house and washing all the linens before they came on Monday) was to lay in a variety of grocery options, eggs, waffles, maple chicken sausages, strawberries, bananas, grapes, smoothie fixings, bagels and cream cheese, croissants and blueberry muffins—they do the rest. 

Then last night we had a festive gathering of the cousins. My kids and their loves, and another niece who now lives in Brooklyn, all hung out here till almost midnight, and as the non stop chatter swirled around me, I silently lamented that these lovely young people had been separated by an ocean as children. Now, hailing each other as adults, they were so simpatico, there was so much laughter and easy sharing, and I wished they all could have had the close cousin relationships I enjoyed when I was growing up, because we were all in the same place. But they're bonding now, and they will always know they have each other, should they ever need one another in some way. I love my family.




Sunday, May 26, 2024

One year old today! (More pictures)

 

 Happy birthday precious girl! 

You are so loved!

💕

 

More pictures!






Saturday, May 25, 2024

The gaze of the world

 

My friend Rebecca The Poet posted that image on Instagram, and I thought dear god that child with her powerful sense of being has something to teach me.

It's the season of spinning over here, of me freaking out about things that in the scheme of things don't matter much, like what I will wear to my daughter's wedding, the mother of the bride who can only wear flat, comfortable shoes, nothing fashionable, and whose shape is such that nothing fits of the garments that appeal to me, and the things that do fit are unbearably dowdy, yet one has no choice but to wear a garment that fits I suppose. Maybe I'll wear something from my closet that is already broken in, that I've worn a million times before, that everyone has already seen me in, but a garment that allows me to forget about myself, to not keep tugging at it, adjusting it, overthinking how I appear to others in it, and besides, I am peripheral to the main event anyway, because at the end of it my daughter and her love will be married.

Sometimes I still actually envy my mother for her slender grace, the way she could don any dress she chose and look perfectly elegant. I can still hear her when I was an ungainly child, tugging at my dress, my socks slipping down into my patent leather shoes at the heel, I can still hear my mother telling me gently, "Darling, once you get dressed just forget about yourself," and I thought back then, easy for you to say, and I think it even now. But she meant well. She ached that I couldn't seem to get comfortable in my skin, I saw her noticing it, agonizing over it. She took me to dressmakers to have my clothes custom made, so we would no longer have to endure the sessions in clothing store fitting rooms, trying on garment after garment only to walk out empty handed once again. I love her for trying, though, and for loving me, even though I struggled to love the rotund little girl who stared back at me from the seamstress's mirror.

But what if, in my own head, I could see myself as physically fluent as that ballerina, as light as air, as unconcerned with the gaze of the world as the child in that picture. Now that would be a trick worth mastering.

Thank you dear friends for your thoughtful and supportive comments on my recent post about my husband's sparse communication around medical issues. I took the post down, because the health information is his to share, not mine, but I will hold your comments close, especially those that clued me in that our marital dynamic around health is more common than I might think, that men often protect their vulnerabilities in this vault-like way, and also, as one kind soul said in response to my not knowing whether to be angry or scared, "Be neither angry nor scared. Just listen."

I asked my daughter the other day, what am I afraid of at the core? Is it that disaster will strike and I won't be prepared—as if one can ever truly prepare for disaster. For now, life is rolling along, and I have the nerve, despite the larger world being on fire, and possible surgery in my husband's future, to be concerned with the gaze of other people.



Thursday, May 23, 2024

Album cover

Nephew. Composer. Singer and songwriter. Guitar savant. Old soul. I recently wrote about him and linked one of his recent releases here. Fresh off touring with the blues-rock band Huntley, he has new music coming soon.



Monday, May 20, 2024

I just love the picture


My girl was in Boston this weekend with a dear friend. Looks like they had a good time. I swiped this from social media because I can't resist my daughter's joy. Deep ease friendships are a balm.