It took typing up a silly post about cloth diapering for me to realize how much joy and identity I find in writing. I feel I haven’t fully accepted, grieved or processed something (anything) until I’ve found a way to put it into words. It’s a necessary challenge for me – the act of pairing emotions or experiences with the strings of letters that come closest to matching them.
So much has happened in the past six months I’m not sure where to begin summarizing (though, the goal isn’t necessarily to share the entirety of my experiences – that’s both too extravagant and, I feel, too vulnerable for an unknown audience).
So, what then? What if not summarizing?
Describing? For some day when the moments that made up today are a memory that I think of with a fond, longing ache in my heart?
I know there are many things about this season of my life I want to always remember (though, I don’t feel I could forget them even if I was choosing to do so). These feel like the best days I’ve ever had? Will they be?
I want to remember the scent of my baby daughter’s hair when she’s fresh from her bath; the way her skin smells like powder and honey. I want to remember the sleepy weight of her small body, worn out from knocking over (and over and over) her block towers, as she nurses herself into a nap – the last thing she remembers is the scent of mommy and taste of milk.
I want to remember the light in Tom’s eyes when he walks up the front path at the end of the workday. The way he sometimes stops to knock on the window and makes faces at me through the bushes. The way he still looks at me after three years of increasing familiarity – with love and longing. I want to remember the stubborn, red curl that twists by his left ear and the way he drops his lunch bag on the floor so he can immediately lay on the floor and make his baby laugh.
Sometimes I think if I could stop time at any point it would be now – during the years when our babies are young and so are we. If only being unspeakably grateful for things was enough to let you hold on to them forever.
Sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m 26 going on 27 not 26 going 77. I don’t know why but, since I was small, I’ve been acutely sensitive to the passing of time. When I look at my daughter I can see her walking, writing her letters, becoming a big sister, falling in love and getting married…it’s as vivid as the hands I see typing this post. I can see her daddy in another twenty years. Laugh lines more creased around his eyes, heart full of even more love.
I can see myself.
A mother more times over (please, God) but a wife first. I can see the sacrifices my body will make to give life to someone smaller. I can see the way my heart will always walk around outside my body in the form of my husband and babies. I can see it all. I can see the woman I want to continue be for Tom; the partner, companion and lover.
I can see the time passing and I know, all too soon, It’ll be past. It’s a challenge to myself to do the small things that make big differences today.
To speak the loving words, to spend the five minutes snuggling the child, to plant the herbs, to pray together, to find joy in the littleness of these days of small things, to choose the path of peace instead of offense, to pet the cat, to write the email, to spend moments in silence becoming instead doing.
More than ever my heart needs its God. Not one of small stories or tidy boxes but one strong enough to sustain me in the face of grief and be my reason for celebrating. He is there and I’m continuing to learn him in a new way through new stages. I want to remember how this process of breaking into new territory feels. Will I ever understand all His ways? No. Not in their fulness. Lately he has chosen? permitted? not intervened? in ways I don’t understand – my heart aches for friends going through losses. His blend of power and reticence, action and restraint seems so paradoxical at times.
Despite my questions, I want to remember this season too. How divinely alright it felt to be nothing other than exactly who I am today. Questions, fears and all. The way it felt to be journeying with my daughter as she discovers daffodils, the sensation of carpet on bare feet and raindrops on her face. The ever-growing comfort and strength of my hand in Toms.
When I die, when all of these remembrances are tomorrow, I want to be all used up.
I want everything I have; every ounce of bodily strength, every bit of passion, every possession to be given away to someone who needs it more.
What is the purpose of life if not to pour yourself out like an offering for someone else? To give comfort to one who feels alone? To grieve with one who has an aching heart? To put yourself and your preferences to the side for the sake of another?
I want to remember.
“This is the true joy in life — being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one… being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.” ~ George Bernard Shaw