Category Archives: Love

The Most Important Meal of the Day

No telling what time G got up so that he could preheat the oven and cook a pan of biscuits for the kids. Vivi had asked for them at dinner last night, but I ordered Chinese food instead and promised her biscuits in the morning. G delivered them. Each of our kids got a “You Are Special!” plate loaded with two hot biscuits, butter and jelly, a few strawberries and a small pyramid of blueberries.

Vivi gobbled hers right up, but Carlos spent 20 minutes eating half a strawberry, then pitched a fit when I said it was time to go. G put one of the biscuits in a to-go bowl and set it by Carlos’ seat in my car. I tucked a pack of applesauce into Vivi’s backpack for snack, but when I went to put one in Carlos’ backpack, he said, “Don’t want that!” I put it in anyway because I haven’t had time to go to the store and it’s the only snack we had handy.

In the car, I reminded him that we only had a few minutes and he needed to eat his biscuit before we got to school. He nibbled along the edge and complained that there was butter on it when he prefers only jelly. Oh well.

We got to school and had to park in the last available space–it’s parent breakfast day for 3rd and 4th grade today. Carlos wandered down the sidewalk with his fully intact biscuit in his hand. He might have given it a lick or two but none of it was getting in his belly. We missed the cutoff for Tardy by one minute, so as I signed us in on the computer and got the appropriate stickers and waited for the door to be unlocked, he stepped over to Miss Valerie’s desk and dropped that biscuit straight into the trash. Grinning the whole time.

All that work. For nothing.

Fine. Be hungry. Your choice, your consequence.

We walked into the kindergarten hallway. A girl sat at a table outside the classroom next to Carlos’ class. She was sobbing–that hiccuping and shaking kind of crying that wracked her whole body. Two of her classmates stood behind her and looked concerned.

I got Carlos to his room and all squared away in a few minutes. When I came back into the hallway, the girl was still sobbing at the table, all alone.

“Are you OK, honey?” I rubbed her back in a circle as she hiccuped. She wiped her nose on the too long sleeve of her green sweater. “Nooooooooooo…” she cried.

“I can see you’re upset. Is there anything I can help you with?” Pat pat pat.

A boy from her class came out to get a folder from his backpack. He looked a little worried about her too. He said, “She missed breakfast.”

“Is that what’s got you upset?” She raised her chin and met my eye for the first time and nodded. “I got here too late for breakfast.”

“Are you hungry?” She nodded again. “Do you like applesauce? My son has some applesauce in his bag–would you like that?” She nodded harder.

I got the “don’t want that” pack of applesauce from Carlos’ backpack, twisted off the cap, and handed it to her. She squirted a little too much out and it dripped onto her green sweater. I hopped up to get a tissue to clean it up.

The girl’s teacher stuck her head out of the classroom door and saw what was going on. As I was saying, “Can I grab a tissue?” and feeling glad that I had been able to help this poor hungry child, the girl, who had stopped crying, sipped applesauce timidly from the squeeze-pack.

The teacher asked, “Did you give her that?” I told her I had. She looked uncomfortable and said, “Um, I know you were trying to be nice but we can’t do that.”

I looked at her blankly, thinking it was some rule about eating in the hall or something. So I laughed and said, “Oops! I didn’t know!” in this conspiratorial way like “let’s just let this one slide because the kid is hungry, right?”

The teacher went on–“I mean, if she had allergies or something…”

Ugh. Right. Of course. That was stupid of me.

“Oh gosh, you’re right. I’m sorry.” The teacher handed me a tissue then ducked back into her classroom.

I went back to the little girl, who was now sitting up calmly in her chair. I wiped the drops of applesauce off her sweater and gave her a smile. She handed me the still mostly full applesauce pack and said, “I’m finished.” Then she headed back to class.

Back at Miss Valerie’s desk, I dropped the uneaten applesauce in the trash, right on top of my son’s abandoned biscuit. Thanks to my problem solving, Carlos wouldn’t have a snack OR breakfast. And the little girl who missed breakfast had applesauce on her sweater and an empty belly.

As I write this, the cats are taking turns sipping milk from Carlos’ cup that he left on the table. Huck ate the last two biscuits while we were gone because I forgot to put them off the stove while I was out saving the world.

Some days I try to fix everything and none of it works out right. None of it.

But I can’t imagine a day when I will walk past a hungry, crying child and not try to do something.

 

biscuits

What Does Love Carry In Its Hands?

It seems that every time our country starts to boil over, we summon the ghost of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr to remind us:

 

darkness cannot drive out darkness

 

With all the respect that is due to the man who said this, I think this quote is getting a rubber stamp feel to it, kind of like “sending thoughts and prayers.” It’s a quick way of dispensing with the flayed feelings we face after ANOTHER “nothing can be worse than this” moment.

When we keened after the Charleston Nine were murdered at prayer meeting by a twisted little white boy who wanted to start a race war….darkness cannot drive out darkness.

When we howled in anguish after five police officers were ambushed in Dallas by a madman with a rifle while they were protecting the protestors at a peaceful demonstration against police brutality…only light can do that.

When we woke to wail at the news that a homegrown hater had slaughtered 49 dancing queens and kings at The Pulse in Orlando…hate cannot drive out hate.

When we watch another traffic stop turn into another bodycam video turn into another hashtag and the rage begins to boil so that fists fly into the air and some take a knee and we cry #BlackLivesMatter only to hear #AllLivesMatter in a weary call and response, we ask the question, “How much longer until we are all safe and free?”…only love can do that.

monk hands

Monk. Image courtesy Pixabay.

OK. Love can do that. 

But what does love carry in its hands?

What tools does love need to tackle this responsibility we have lain at its feet? “Oh, that? Love will handle that. Love takes care of the dirty work. Love’s got it. We can wait. Go on, Love. You’re strong, Love. You can do it, Love. Let us know when you’re finished, Love. We’ll be over here, out of the way…just waiting on you, Love. Let us know if there’s anything you need, Love!”

Love carries sandwiches to the hungry and water to the parched. Love carries a slender book of poems for the heartsick. Love carries a bucket and sponge when it shows up to clean that bathroom. Love carries a scalpel. Love carries a crochet hook that makes something warm to shield your shoulders from shivers. Love carries a clipboard from door to door to door. Love makes a casserole. Love will hold that baby while you take a nap. Love hands five dollars out the car window to the man with the sign. Love picks the daisies. Love picks up a pen. Love matches the socks and folds them together into a ball. Love turns the dirt and trains the vines along the fence. Love carries a lantern.

Yes, I know Dr. King was right when he said “Only love can do that.” But love can’t do anything with empty hands.

baby-21098_1920

bird-818045_1920

doctor-870361_1280

hand-408781_1920

Household Spirits

“Mommy, I’m having that anxious feeling again.” Vivi and Pengy curled up on the couch next to me, ten minutes past bedtime. I stretched her legs over mine so i could rest my hand on her knee.

“What’s got you feeling anxious?”

“I’m scared of ghosts.”

Roman statue

Roman statue

I gave her a skeptical look. “Are ghosts real?”

“No…I know, but Myca was talking about maybe Biscuits is a ghost cat. Like there’s this cat spirit and it lives in the woods until it decides to come out and haunt a family…”

Biscuits heard her name and promptly hopped up on the couch with us. I tucked a long curl behind Vivi’s ear. “Honey, if you know ghosts aren’t real, it doesn’t really make much sense to get worked up thinking about them.”

“I just can’t stop thinking about them. They might hurt us.”

“OK. Well, if you are going to think about ghosts that might want to be hurtful, then why don’t you also think about the ghosts who are on our team?”

She twisted up her face and gave me a sideways look.

“So let’s say there is some kind of life after this one and there are some ghosts that linger on. If that’s the case, then the spirits that want to take care of us hang around us too?” She was thinking about it. “Like Papa. You’d have Papa on your team of friendly ghosts.”

“And he’d be…” She threw her voice down into a gentle growl. “…you better get in here!”

“Right! When you were a little baby, there was one night when I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep. I remember leaning over your crib and wishing I could quit worrying and go to sleep. So I summoned my protector spirits and asked them to sit on the roof of the house and watch over us.”

She lit up. And I did too.

“I imagined my Pop on one corner, and my Grandmama Eunice on another corner and Daddy’s daddy–the first Carlos Jose–was out there, and I imagined Richard right up on top of the roof because he wasn’t afraid of heights. Now we’ve got Papa up there too, watching out for us.”

Vivi shook herself back into worrying and stuck her finger in her mouth. “But how could they keep us safe from mean ghosts?”

“Papa was a really good shot when he was young. He won riflery medals. And he was strong! He could throw a cow to the ground with a rope and his bare hands.”

She caught the tail of the story and held on. “What about your grandmama?”

“Oh, well she was a gentle lady but she would not tolerate any foolishness. And if you messed up, she made you pick your own switch. Do you know what that means?”

“Like you had to spank YOURSELF?”

“No, you had to go out to the yard and break off a switch and then she would spank your bootie with it.”

“What about your Pop?”

“Pop wasn’t a fighter that I know of, but he chewed tobacco…”

“So he could SPIT AT THEM!”

“Yes!”

G walked into the den. I asked him, “Hey, Daddo. What would your father do to protect us if he was a friendly ghost?”

“Oh, my father, he was a pretty laid back guy.”

“Right, but if someone threatened you?”

“He’d get his father’s Beretta from the war.”

Vivi hooted at the idea of all these fiercely friendly ghosts hanging out on the roof.  “What about Richard?”

“I always pictured him right up on top of the roof, sitting lookout. Richard knew a lot about how to take care of himself. He knew how to fight…”

“Like karate chops?”

“Not exactly, but, well, just stuff. He wouldn’t let anybody get in this house.”

It took a few more minutes, but eventually we sent her off to bed with no more worries about ghosts in the night.

Our talk got me thinking the Roman belief in household spirits. The lares domestici were the spirits of family ancestors who watched over the home and hearth. Each lare protected a specific physical spot (for example, a 1961 ranch house with a little girl trying to avoid her bedtime).

If the family moved, they took their lares with them. The lares sat out on the table during meals. They received offerings on important days and they witnessed family events like marriages. Remember, in the movie “Gladiator,” those small carved figures that Maximus carried with him in a little leather pouch? Those were his lares.

Roman bust

Roman bust

On that night several years ago, when I couldn’t imagine a way to let myself rest now that I was responsible for a tiny sleeping wonder of a child, I called upon my lares domestici. Pop, who smelled of Levi Garrett and I can hear his smooth fingertips glide over the pages of a Louis L’amour novel while he guards his corner of the roof. Grandmama Eunice, dressed for church in a purple pantsuit with her purse on her lap, keeping watch over her corner with a Sunday school teacher’s all-seeing and all-loving gaze. Carlos Jose the First, quietly singing a lullaby in Portuguese and watching over the dark backyard where the hummingbirds sleep. Richard sitting watch on the crest of the low shingled roof, never in need of sleep, never daydreaming.

Now I see Papa sitting beside him. Telling stories, talking politics, enjoying each other’s company. Keeping watch until morning.

When my child finds herself wandering off into the frightening dark maybes of the world, I call her back and remind her that there is more good, more protection, more fierce and unfailing love around her.

 

The Narrowest Strip of Land

I’d have worn a nicer baseball cap if I’d known we were going to be in someone’s engagement pictures. G played in the surf with the kids, right under the tower of pink and coral clouds that held the last light of sunset. Waves crashed all around us and the wind blew so high that puffs of froth flew off the tips of the waves and skittered down the beach.

Bunch of nuts.

Bunch of nuts.

I waved to G with my cup full of rum drink and pointed down the beach about thirty yards to a young couple locked in a tight hug. They were enclosed by a semicircle of beaming family. Every woman held a cell phone pointed straight at the happy couple…and us.

The young man must have planned it with all of their help. Each person wore beachy dress clothes, like they had just come from dinner and wanted to get some sunset photos on the sand. Only problem was…there wasn’t much sand. Certainly not enough for their family and our family and the magic moment that was supposed to happen in a picture perfect way. The sunset that the young groom-to-be had imagined coincided with a new moon high tide that thundered right up to the trash cans and the boardwalk steps. As we’ve all heard for a thousand years, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

So while their family tried to act casual, the young man led the young woman down onto the narrow strip of sand that hadn’t yet been eaten by the incoming waves. He handed her a letter and she stood there in the whipping wind trying to read it, keep her hair out of her mouth, and focus on this important moment…all with twelve people standing in a grinning circle and two strange children (mine, ahem) who decided to act out a scene from Paw Patrol nearby.

All was joy a few moments later, when she said yes and everyone jumped up and down and then they took photos in the last light of Their Engagement Day.

The narrowest strip of land

The happy couple, their happy family, some trash cans and my son.

I got engaged under a pink sky just like that one once upon a time. And the ground was being eaten beneath our feet on that day, too, but we pressed on towards what would be.

G clapped loudly for the young couple and gave them two thumbs up. He walked over to me and we held hands for a moment before he went back to herding the kids. I had to laugh, even though the sound of it disappeared into the wind and waves. Ten hours earlier, we had stood in the driveway and had a screaming match so loud that Carlos had walked out into the garage and said, “Enough with the arguing!”

For three days, I had been packing and prepping and then G had the gall that morning to roll his eyes and say, “Why are we taking all this shit?” Within 10 minutes, I was moving stuff from his car to my car and he had decided he wasn’t even GOING on vacation….yadda yadda yadda. We apologized to each other, explained to the kids that we were using our words to express our feelings, and that it’s totally normal to have disagreements. We all had a big group hug right there in the driveway then got back to the business of living as a family.

Who could resist that face?

Who could resist that face?

Watching that young couple starting out, with their fancy plans for how this Important Moment was supposed to go–sunset proposal on a pristine beach–I had to laugh at the reality of it. Sunset proposal next to the trash can at high tide with a wind so fierce she can barely hang on to the letter you wrote so carefully, the letter with all your hopes and dreams and love for each other.

What I would tell them is that they had all they needed, even if the details weren’t going as planned. Marriage is the narrowest strip of land. Just enough to stand beside each other while the vast ocean nips at your toes and the wind drowns out all that you would say to each other. Stay strong on the narrowest strip of land. The tide will turn. The moon with ease up. The sun will rise on another day.

Marriage Proposal, St Simon's Island

 

Other People’s Boogers

Y’all know I am a fool about these kids in Carlos’ preK class. There are a couple that I am super foolish about and my heart is pinching up this week because Friday is the last day of school. I’ll probably never see these kids again. Their preK class is pulled together from schools all over the district, so they won’t all be moving to a different room on the same hallway next year.

We have been through a lot this year, so we took a selfie this week at the Moving Up ceremony.

My friends

My friends

The little girl with the award for Outstanding Bus Conduct is the Egyptian angel that I wrote about in The Least of These. For the first two months of school, she didn’t speak. Then one morning while we were building a tower with blocks, she held up a block and whispered, “red.” Look at how she sparkles.

The little girl in the red shirt, she’s my special baby. She gets more lap time than anyone else. She tucks her head under my chin and I tell her that her hair smells like coconuts and it’s my favorite smell in the whole world. She left some boogers on my shirt on Superhero Day but we found a solution. I’m going to miss that little girl. Every day I fight the voice in my head that tells me I’m a worthless piece of shit, but this girl sees something in me.

Mr Man posing in the back there? He’s a handful. One of the smartest kids in the class–been writing his name in a neat line since before Halloween. We play a game every morning where I sit next to Carlos in one of the tiny chairs and Mr. Man comes up behind me to tap me on the shoulder. I look one way and then the other–with him bobbing and ducking–and then I ask one of the other kids if someone is behind me. They giggle and say his name, but I pretend I can’t see him. He knows I love him. And I hope I will see him again one day.

The boy on the end there? He’s the quietest kid in the class–Silent E. He’s left the most boogers on my shirt lately. He loves his mama. One time when I was playing at his table, he touched my arm gently and pointed to his feet. “My mama got me new shoes.” I made a big fuss over them. Then a few weeks later, he whispered with his chin tucked down to his neck, “My mama car broke.” I was about to say, “Did she get it fixed?” but then I thought about how much that costs and said, “Oh, that’s a big problem, huh?” instead. He nodded and we left it at that.

Two weeks ago, Silent E was sobbing before school because he missed his mama. The teacher held him and rocked him. I held him for a while and his favorite sweatshirt that he wears every day smelled like old cigarettes.

A few mornings later, his friend came up to me and tattled that Silent E had been running in the classroom. I turned to him to remind him that it was a walking feet place and he shrunk away from me. His whole body got narrower. No matter how many times I said, “You’re not in trouble, honey!” he cowered in the corner of the reading area. He wasn’t playing, no faking. The idea twisted into my heart–Silent E already sees the world as a fearful place.

And wouldn’t you know it–once the teacher talked Silent E into joining the class on the rug, Mr Man threw something hard and it bounced up and hit Silent E right in the head. While the teacher dealt with Mr Man, I took Silent E in my lap and held him close. I floated my fingers back and forth from his brow to his cheek, up and down, to the same rhythm that we were rocking. He quieted some but was still hurting. When it was time to leave, I kissed him on the head. I went home and changed my boogery shirt.

I love this kid, and I don’t know what kind of world he lives in. But every day when it’s time for me to go, he gets in line for a hug. He’s little, so I pick him up in the air and whisper in his ear, “I love you. Go have a great day.” Same thing I say to Carlos, who mostly ignores me.

On Graduation Day, I waved to all the kids and took pictures, just in case their parents couldn’t be there. I called Silent E’s name from the bleachers and he waved back. After the ceremony (which Carlos sat out on the sidelines with G and me), we went back to the class for awards and snacks. Silent E lay in a tight little ball on the floor behind the teacher’s desk. I caught her eye and pointed to him. “Mama couldn’t come” she mouthed.

I sat down on the carpet with him. “I was so proud of you today! Which song was your favorite?” He didn’t answer. “Hey, I took some pictures of you–look.” He leaned over my phone and swiped through the photos. “How about I email these to your teacher and she can send them to your mom? Or maybe she can print them out and you can take them home?” He nodded silently. Then he got a long hug and left some boogers on my sleeve.

This morning he was wearing a new shirt. He pointed to a tiny cut on his leg. I asked what happened and Mr Man said, “He fell on the playground yesterday.” Silent E asked for two hugs today.

I tossed him into the air and caught him close, held him tight.

I don’t know where he will land. I don’t know where either of us will be in the fall, but Silent E taught me that other people’s boogers can be a real gift. A sign of trust, of love given with open arms.

Superhero

Superhero

Superhero Day

man-1082887_1280

Today was Superhero/Disney dress up day at Carlos’ school. There he sat in his “big boy car seat” in a Batman shirt…but we had a problem. The buckle was stuck. Stuckity stuck stuck stuck. I had pushed and prodded and cussed under my breath but it wouldn’t budge. I started to panic–thinking I would have to drive him to the fire house and have them cut him out of the dang thing.

Then, over my shoulder, I hear a friendly voice say, “Hey!” There stood Troy, father of one of Carlos’ classmates from last year and all-around cool guy. Who happens to work out many hours a day and has giant arms. I asked him to take a shot at getting the buckle unstuck and a couple of tries later, Carlos was free. Troy had swooped in and saved the day.

Troy’s superpower?  Strong thumbs and persistence. And kindness.

The classroom was boiling with excited kids–three Batmen, two Spidermen, a Super Mario whose sixth birthday was today, two sparkly princesses. And my sweet friend, Jayla, by herself in the back of the room with her thumb in her mouth and a heartbroken expression on her face. When I waved to her, she shuffled over to me, still sucking on her thumb. I’d never seen her do that before.

“What’s up, buttercup?” She mumbled something that I couldn’t hear. “Here, let’s go over here where it’s quiet so I can hear you….” I sat down at a table in the back of the room and she climbed onto my lap.

“I didn’t dress up.” I was about to tell her how pretty she looked in her flowered shirt and jeans, but it didn’t feel right. Instead, I wrapped my arms around her and she melted into me. Her face tucked under my chin. My body started that mom-rocking thing that bodies just do when a little one needs comfort. We sat there together, her getting all my attention in the middle of the crowd of excited superheros and princesses. We rocked and rocked and rocked. She snuffled and I clucked to her and patted her hair. I did my best to save the day.

My superpower? An expansive lap and a body that can bend itself into a mama shape when that’s the only thing that will do. And kindness.

Miss Carri saw us sitting there and came over to check on Jayla. She patted and clucked too then her face blossomed with an idea. She went over to the dress up center and pulled a Rapunzel dress out of the cabinet. Et voila…Jayla had a princess costume to wear.

Miss Carri’s superpower? A quick mind and giving heart. And kindness.

Once again, I found myself sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes to process the morning before I started on the day. I sat with the kindness that I had given and the kindness I had received. I let myself feel sad for the kids who don’t have a costume to wear on dress up day. I felt gratitude for the teachers who work so hard to make things even out as much as they can. But it can’t ever be 100% wonderful for every kid, all the time. I sat with that for a little while.

Just before I cranked the car, my phone dinged with a text. April, my friend and coworker, said, “Hey! I read your blog about the school parking lot. Do you think Carlos’ school could use those superhero capes we had for the NICU reunion?”

13006574_10207814994325831_4890924677889596472_n

Seriously? A bag of capes so that no one is left out on superhero day?

April’s superpower? Reading minds. And kindness.

Most of us are never going to have laser vision or freeze breath or Spidey Sense. Shoot, we aren’t even going to have a Batmobile or an invisible plane.

But every one of us has a superpower–kindness. Seeing each other when we are in need and stepping up to say, “Well….I can fix THAT.”

The Grind

As this load of laundry that has thus far cost me $4358 to do spins in the dryer, let me tell you a story about why I was sobbing in the flooded basement over a broken old coffee grinder that I clutched to my chest with affection that would have better suited a beloved stuffed animal from childhood.

I was diagnosed with pneumonia last week. The nice doctors gave me three kinds of antibiotics and the instructions to drink lots of fluids and get as much rest as possible. So I spent the entire weekend in bed with fevers that rattled the bones followed by sweats of the Sahara (kinda like any spring in Georgia). I missed my kids, I missed having breath, I didn’t even want a cupcake. Awful. By Monday morning, I was so worn down that I despaired.

Now, when you are a lady person of my age whose pelvic floor has lived under the tyrrany of a couple of babies, you have a little secondary problem with a wracking cough–you pee. And when you’ve been drinking 200 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated–you pee a lot. Hell, even with wearing a pad I was coughing so much I was piling up laundry. On Monday night (at 12:30) I decided to run a load of my comfy sweats. When I still couldn’t sleep at 2 a.m., I checked on it. Water was pouring out of the machine, into the kitchen, into the pantry….G unplugged the damn thing. The sink in the basement wet bar just below it had backed up too. Water was EVERYWHERE.

We spent an hour sopping up with towels because the shopvac would have wakened the kids. I got an hour of sleep that night.

On Tuesday, I spent another day trying to rest. I also spent $1000 on plumbers trying to open the laundry drain line. Nope. Gonna have to run another. At least the fever I had had for six straight days was gone and I was beginning to have some hope again.

So Wednesday I was in the flooded basement wet bar slowly moving stuff out of the way of the plumbers. That’s the thing about pneumonia–the short of breath thing leaves me so fatigued, I have to remind myself to do ordinary things slowly. I was actually feeling powerful because today I am remembering that I can be resilient. This body–this fat, old, graying, tired, unadorned, skirted bathing suit wearing body can bounce back. I can live with less AIR for a while and endure. This body can make PEOPLE and hold them until they are ready to join the world, even if they do make you pee a lot.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

My friend Linda (who even offered to do laundry) had posted this prayer for compline from the Book of Common Prayer today because people are hurting for the terrorist bombings in Brussels. I love that prayer. Robin shared it with me after Richard died and I still clutch my heart at “shield the joyous”  We’re all hurting lately, it seems. Hurting because orange idiots with debatable penis sizes are crowing about how when they are boss of the planet they’re gonna bust them bad guys right the hell up. And hurting because we aren’t shouting Ankara? and Ivory Coast? It’s exhausting. Makes you want a cup of coffee and I don’t even drink the stuff.

1909881_795124380623079_7806815037613607987_n

Earlier, I had posted this image and a friend told me he wished he could be as open about his atheism as I am about mine. I told him that I had made an intentional decision to talk about it because people might become less scared of atheists if they realize that a lot of nice normal people really don’t think we need religion at the helm of our government. He agreed, but said it’s hard to give up on the idea of a god. I don’t need to persuade them out of their belief in a god–I need to persuade them that there are lots of valid ways to be a decent person. He made the point that people like their religion because it makes them think there will be a reward at the end, not nothingness. True. It’s scary to think of nothing after this. It’s hard to think we go through the grind only to find that grind was all we get. I’m OK with that. My reward isn’t at the end of my life. My reward is my life, even with the grind.

coffee2

I stacked the popcorn machine and the yogurt maker and some contraption of G’s and the crystal growing experiments and my vintage tins in the messy grit on the floor. The idea of moving is hard, much less doing it at half speed.

Then my hand fell on the little old coffee grinder with the cracked lid. I clutched it to my chest and cried. It’s the first time I’ve cried this whole long feverish week. It belonged to Richard and it’s one of the things I kept because it said so much about him. Every morning he would fill it with beans from Trader Joes then carefully place his thumb over the hole before turning it on.

coffee grinder

“Why don’t you just get a new one?” I’d ask. “I like this one, even with the crack,” he’d answer. He kept it because he didn’t waste money. I kept it because it reminded me of him. We all have our reasons for what we hang on to, whether it be a cracked grinder or a lost love or a faith.

We survive the grind.

Just like the coffee is already in the bean, the heaven is in us, right here and now.

I climbed back up the stairs, slowly slowly slowly, and fixed myself a Diet Coke while waiting on the plumbers.