amid the chaos, my true song rises
the homecoming was delayed. the homecoming was complicated. by COVID, of course. it entailed a long drive, half across the country, nights in borrowed beds, and one in a hotel with a curious chandelier fixation. but, at long last, the station wagon, packed to the gills with the siftings of law school life that won’t be moving to the next chapter, pulled into the garage just as the sun lowered in wednesday night’s sky.
i leapt as soon as i saw the light shining through the garage window, realizing the devoted driver (the one who’d set out across the country simply to shave one airplane ride’s risk from the summer’s complicated travel equation, the one who’d driven 28 hours just to shield his firstborn from the fear of worrying if the guy with the coughing fits two seats away was spreading the dread disease), had picked up the pace on the drive through america’s flatland–ohio, indiana, the surrounds of chicago.
i wish i’d had a picture of the sight i saw next: the graduate in graduation robe, (the tassled-cap had been momentarily misplaced under the heap in the wagon’s rear spaces) with N95 mask strapped round his beard (yes, we know that beards are not optimal tonsorial fare, not in the age of the red-ringed virus), bare legs, and the crumbs of a cross-country car trip. for a pause of a moment we air hugged. but then, i surrendered. if COVID comes roaring this way, i’m going down with the rest of us. and, anyway, it seems biologically impossible to dwell in the same house and avoid rampant exposure. (COVID tests have now been taken, and we await the results, in two to four business days.)
ever since, it’s been decidedly noisier here, and far less monastically choreographed. as i type, two laptops are spread across the kitchen island, conjoined by a wire, as the old one disgorges its contents into the new one. tax returns are piled next to the laptops, leftover business best dealt with with mom and dad’s stamps. the peanut butter jar is curiously emptying, by the giant-sized spoonful. and the pile of laundry is teetering toward the basement rafters.
the most curious thing, or maybe the most complicated, is my heart. i find myself aswim in an aching as i realize just how uncommon, how far-apart-and-few-between these homecomings will be. how we’re not really his home anymore (something i certainly know intellectually–i’ve been sending packages to new haven, connecticut, for the last three years, after all, and before that, for four years, to amherst, massachusetts–but in that way where the heart is at peace with a knowing, is humming along with the whole of it, well that certainty is not yet ground into the walls of this ol’ ticker), and i’m not really ready to swallow that truth. truth is, we feel something like a way-station. a place to store old paintings for a year. a place to tuck the graduation gown into the back of the closet. a place where old stories are the ones that most vividly percolate.
and i find myself yearning–sometimes just a tad, other times with every ounce of my heart–for the old days, when night after night all four of us fell asleep under the same single roof, and every morning was a mad-dash to somewhere, with someone or something inevitably lost, left behind, or stuck in the laundry chute. wishing i’d known then–amid the full-on, high-decibel chaos–just how much and how soon i’d come to miss the whole of it.
i promise i’m savoring the sweetness of now. savoring every blessed drop of it. cooking like there’s no tomorrow (and the way the dinner plates are being piled high, there might be no food for the morrow; the fridge looks to be draining in double-time). throwing my own to-do list to the wind. we are staying up far too late, all of us curled on the couch, trading wit, witticism, and old family barbs as we catch up on netflix.
but the sense of evanescence is inevitable, undeniable. already the flights to oregon have been booked. the lease in downtown portland, soon to be signed. the summer is short. i’m catching my breath.
and, for now, i’m wrapping myself in the strands–tangled and not–of my mothersong, the one that pours from my heart’s truest, deepest stillpoint. the warbles and wobbles, the uncertain off notes, they’re all a part of its beauties. the heart, at its glorious best, is a vessel of many scales, chords, and rhythms.
and i’m finding my way, line after line.
a premise here at the chair is that truth–even when it’s messy–is what we trade in. in the ordinariness of our lives, we pay attention, we alight on illuminations. i teeter here on the brink, the edge between chapters and verse. i write to find my way, to make sense, to reach for understandings.
how do you navigate the in-betweens of your life, those stirrings that animate the not-yet-settled?
Oh darling! Enjoy, enjoy these special moments and weeks that may never happen again. Just the 4 of you under one roof again! Bless the empty fridge and full washer, the dirty dishes and cleaned out pantry.
Oh, dear PJT, I am I am! I am teasing out the shadow here because it does stir in a mother’s heart —or at least this mother’s—and I know that part of the wonder of writing is to hold to the light the whole of it, for in seeing the shadings it all emerges as more striking, more true, and ultimately more beautiful…
“just as the sun lowered in Wednesday night’s sky.” is so marvelous I STOPPED READING TO COMMENT !
Love how you treat the ordinary (sun goes down) with extraordinarily heightened receptors. This is what writers offer freely—fresh eyes and the world is all “new and improved”. Thank you for ‘a lifetime of love offerings’ starting on legal pads on a “briar hill!”
Bless your heart and your keyboard! 🌹
Bless you, MM. so good to have your embrace here at the table….❤️❤️
Savored every sip — of the rest o your story.
Barbie you wrote a hum dinger to me recently
regarding music (I paraphrase) the space between notes is
the thing—more than the notes! I hit the internal
pause button and your thought rearranged my
sofa and a rug moved a bit—in my heart! So here
you’re offering “in-between” as the heart of it.
Where I record these days the floor and walls are so
hard my sound careens AND I LOVE “playing” the space after a loud staccato chord—I simply experience the space. Just show up with your receptors on. The inbetweenesses of a burlap sack is WHAT I LOVE about it.
Slowing Time is what PUAC did for me this morning. Danke !!! Always a treat! I c e l e b r a t e the in-between.
love you, M. xoxox the silence between the notes, indeed, is where the music comes to magnificent life……
Lt. Colombo “there’s just one more thing”
b u r “the toast” of 707 this cool Friday morning.
i pun dit
If you could see my tears flowing right now, bam, as I finish this post through rimmed eyes, you’d see that we’re cut from the same cloth. My four are all scattered, two within a five-hour drive, two settled over a thousand miles away. The joy that had come from our annual “family staycations” was immeasurable, as all four came back to their childhood home for a long weekend, to tease, to hug, to swim in the pool, have a drink in front of our patio fireplace, to dig into Mom’s cooking, to shoot the breeze with Dad. Those indescribably precious times have been gone for the last three years, as our second son, our third child, and the only one with children, has made his new home in Saint Augustine, FL, and hasn’t been coming home for these special times. Yes, it’s a great place to visit, as my friends say. But that’s so not the same as having all of your original family under one roof, where bonds are strengthened, memories made, reminiscences shared. I also long for those uncomplicated times, and have learned to embrace my new normal, but not without deeply feeling the loss of that tight, visceral connection of family in the whole, gathering together, and feeling our love.
Things could definitely be worse. Our family still is infused with love, and the siblings are determined to stay in touch independently of the prodding of parents, which makes me relieved, proud and pleased. But the moment that you describe right now, the serendipitous visit to the home that’s not their home, but represents their precious beginnings, that moment is more and more rare, and because of that, more incalculably precious. And bam, I have to share this, a side note of love from a geographically distant kid: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year came with carefully selected cards, with love notes filling the inside with so much thought, admiration and gratitude, for the love these four have felt from Tom and me for all these years. Each of them, now adults from 30 to 38, living their own entirely different lives, far from each other, still have the same heart-filling thoughts about good ol’ Mom and Dad. For me: “You did an amazing job raising all of us kids. I am proud of who I grew up to be and that I can pass how I was raised down to the kids, and I owe so much of that to you.” And, “Mom, I know we’ve always been very close. I’ve enjoyed feeling even closer to you during this pandemic. It’s a weird sentiment, but it’s true. Thanks for always being there for me, now more than ever. You’re a wonderful Mom and friend. You’ve made me feel extra blessed lately. I love you very much, and can’t wait to see you on the other side of this.” And, “I can’t wait until the next time we’re able to visit and give you a hug in person. Even as a bit of a stubborn luddite, I’m very grateful for the technology that enables us to stay in touch this year. I love you so much, Mom, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day and are showered with love all day long.” And Tom received the same thoughtful love, via his beautifully chosen cards: “Thank you for raising me to be a strong woman, and not giving up on me when I was going through hard times or just being a jerk for no reason. I can always count on you for good advice, a patient ear, and steady unwavering love. As I’ve gotten older, my love and respect for you has only grown. I love you so much.” And, “You are the best Dad for me, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. Yo’ve taught me so much and inspired me to be a good person and treat everyone equally. When you speak, I know to listen, because your words are always thoughtful and from your heart. I hope you’re feeling loved, because you are loved so much!”
So bam, things are definitely different, with the upcoming years, when Will and Teddy are settled in their new independent lives, as we, as mothers, hope for our children to be. As evidenced from my quoting our kids’ love messages to us in our cards, the seeds planted so lovingly for all those years, take root in them being thoughtful, loving, appreciative, affectionate and remembering adults that still hold us deeply in their hearts. Still, you and I know that we cling, we store away every little bit of laughter, every family joke, every snuggle, from these rare times when our chicks are, even for a night, back in the nest.
One last little sweet share: My dear, spunky, independent Mom turned 93 last October. Tom and I drove the four hours to her home, north of Detroit, to spend the weekend with her. My brother and his wife came the next day, and my sister and her husband came that evening. We all took my Mom to a local playhouse production of “Murder on the Orient Express,” which tickled her mystery-loving self, then went back to her home for a little visit before everyone else left for home. While chatting at her kitchen table, everyone decided that there was no need to leave that night. Despite no jammies, the others stayed overnight, in a spontaneous, gleeful decision. My mom, always prepared, produced new toothbrushes from her stockpile, and we, after thirty five years or so, were again, all of her chicks, in her nest, together. The next morning, we bustled around her kitchen, making a nice big breakfast, crowded around her table to share one more meal, and left for our homes. Driving home, I felt such joy at the thought of my mom, at 93, having her kids, at 65, 62 and 54, all under her roof again. So bam, it’s a natural thing to long for those giggles, merry shrieks, family jokes, messy kitchens, lingering hugs, even when our children are no longer children to the world’s eye, but always are in our own eyes.
Thank you again for filling my heart with your words, which strike such a knowing chord with my own heart, every single time. Sending much love, Barb
oh, dear gracious, the picture you paint of the night and the morning at your mom’s is just priceless, priceless. and the notes from your kids, and the wisdom — and hope — you share, embedded in the seeds of next-generational parenting. knowing that the love laid down during childhood, during attentive childhood parenting becomes the spine, or the root, of the love that comes next and beyond and beyond.
thank you for this beautiful and heartfelt outpouring. i love discovering you are here reading and pulling up that proverbial chair. thank you for reading so closely, for pulling in so close, and reaching your hand across the table, and squeezing mine tightly….
Bless you, my friend. I cherish every Friday post you send, though I rarely take the time to comment. You are such a gift to my life, and I count you among my “soulmate friends”, bam.
We’re living in a not quite settled moment currently. Our baby’s original plan was to be in Denver right this minute working on her MSW, but Covid rearranged that plan so Grace is still home and starting the summer term online in a few weeks. She’s hoping to be out there in September for the fall term. The uncertainty is a stressful for all of us.
We also celebrated having everyone under one roof over Father’s Day weekend. Sarah came down from Madison and Danny came up from Wrigleyville for a couple of nights. It was so delightful to have all of us together and to share memories and dreams. Our hearts were full.
So glad you are all together now. The elder is heading to the other coast? Exciting times ahead! And an even longer drive!
the topsy-turviness of this summer really is something. and i have a sneaking feeling it’s only going to get topsier. all as we surf these waves and uncertainties.
so happy you had all your people — and your big giant heart — spilling with joy and with stories……xox
Sending love as you cherish this time of togetherness. ❤ xoxo
And sending love and comfort back to you, sweetheart, in these days of grief and sorrow.