Friday, June 29, 2012

Why I Am in Love with Summer #2

Today Ben and Kate finished their first session of swimming lessons at the Tennis and Swim Club up the street. They both passed their levels (Kate goes on to Level 5 and Ben to Level 3.) Kate is a good little swimmer and enjoys the pool, but Ben? Ben adores water. Adores. The minute he is in the water, he is grinning. He grins as he bobs up and down. He grins as he practices floating. He grins as he does big arms or dives to the bottom to pick up a ring.

So overall, swimming lessons have been a major success. I love to watch them learning new skills, especially when they learn them easily and happily.

As a treat for completing their lessons, they each got to choose something from the freezer at the club. Then they asked if they could walk home. I told them I'd meet them at the bottom of the hill to help them cross the busy road, but that they could. 

So hand in hand, they walked across the parking lot and down the driveway, eating their dripping chocolate Creamies. And my heart sang.

I don't know what it was about that exact moment, that exact scene. The fact that they both felt so capable, so strong after working hard for two weeks? That they had been so darling to watch? That they love each other enough to hold hands? That the sun was beaming down and the wind was NOT blowing (thankfully, after way too much wind for way too many days)? But somehow, in that moment, I felt a rush of love, of satisfaction, of peace, and I thought: "If this is all there is, if my life stopped today, I would feel like it was enough. This moment is payment for so much."

I don't know why. It was just two children in swimsuits walking home, eating Creamies, holding hands.

But it was magic.

And that's another reason I love summer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confessions of a Five-Year-Old Worrier

Benno is on a "self-tattling" streak. These are some of the things we hear all day long:

     "I said a potty word." (This is generally "butt." Sometimes it is "poopy.")

     "I thought a bad word." (This is usually taking the Lord's name in vain, which he heard on an HGTV show and used promptly, much to the horror of Miss Kate.)

     "I watched Spongebob at Zach's. But only for a minute."

     "I went into the street."

     "I was mean to Zach."

     "I went past the stop sign."

     "I scratched (or hit or pinched) Lacey (or Kate, or William.)"

     "I was playing a hitting game."

He runs inside from playing, confesses, takes his discipline, and heads back out until the next incident. And the next incident is usually just a few minutes later.

Totally darling? Umm, yes. But also a little worrying, thanks to the angst in his voice in these confessional moments. Our poor little man is very disturbed about his inability to stop himself from making mistakes, and while I am often hiding a smile while asking him to take a time out on the stairs, I really worry a little that he will have a hard time learning to accept himself, flaws and all, as much as we accept him.

It's really very easy to accept him. He's darned cute.

And darned funny.

And apparently, extremely darned honest. (Can I make sure he still has this quality when he's sixteen?)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Two Years

Brett, our almost-brother, and Brent

Can you just take a look at that grin? Does it take your breath away like it does mine? When I saw this picture earlier this week after Brett posted it to my Facebook wall, I was shocked to immediately burst into tears. It was the grin that stabbed me in the heart, that infectious grin that I haven't seen for two years. I sat at my kitchen table with saltwater pouring down my face. Sophie saw what was on the screen and put her arm around me. I caught my breath, dried the tears and closed the screen.

We miss him. We miss him dreadfully. It's terrible that he's missed two of his birthdays, two Christmases, two new babies (a niece and a nephew that he would have adored,) not to mention so much laughing, so many conversations, games of Big Boggle, boy movies with all the brothers, brothers-in-law and Josh, family dinners...oh, too too many things.

I've been thinking about the Jack Gilbert poem I posted a few weeks ago, especially these lines:
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
So today I decided to delight, to accept my gladness and grab the joy there is all around me, to remember my little brother by living fully and happily. I ran and hiked on another gorgeous trail near our home, talking to him about how much we miss him, how much he would enjoy the kids right now. I bought wildflower seeds to scatter. We nixed the yard work and cleaning. David and I went to breakfast with friends, then took Josh to The Avengers. I took Sophie and a friend to City Creek and to my favorite gelato place. I ate blackberry cobbler. I took pictures of the sunset. We watched a family DVD with the kids. I read to Ben and snuggled Kate. And through it all, I remembered him.
One of the hardest lessons I've learned through the last two years is that there is no safe and easy path through life. The world can indeed be a ruthless furnace, but every day we accept that truth and love our time here anyway is a day to celebrate. And so today I celebrated Brent, his life, and the fact that I loved him so much that his loss has created this hole. Holes left in our hearts are the proof of loving recklessly, with abandon, despite the risk of pain. The hole of his life is huge in our family's collective hearts because we loved him hugely. I would rather love hugely and risk huge pain than live a quiet, safer, subdued life with a quiet, safer, subdued heart. I may not have felt that way earlier in this journey, but I now make this conscious choice every day: to love, to cherish, to risk.
Rest well, my sweet little brother. You are missed. You are loved.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why I Am in Love with Summer #1

At 8:40 tonight, Kate ran in the front door with Ben and a crew of neighbor kids in tow as I practiced Schubert.

"We haven't had dinner yet, have we, Mom?"

And the answer to that, dear ones, is no, we haven't.

(In all honesty, no one else has had dinner yet, but I have had a piece of Great Harvest bread, 3/4 of a roll, a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and to add some fruit, a fresh strawberry shake. So I'm good.)

(And yes, I've finished my pact. How did you guess? Did the carb-loading and excess sugar consumption tip you off? I was searching for chocolate too, but my stomachache stopped me from looking too hard.)