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Tag: birthday blessing

we always pause for seaweed: on savoring a day, another year

seaweed salad

maybe it’s because he’s about to leave. maybe it’s because the moving van is scheduled, the boxes piling in a room upstairs.

maybe, though, it’s simply that he wanted to be here, to be among us. an arc of days stitched with all those things he loves.

and so we paused. turned off all the things that ping and beep. clipped roses from the garden. tucked stems in vases. made cards, wrote letters. awaited word from inbound trains.

the birthday boy was coming home, and we were slowing time. we were holding up the hours, sinking deep into the pure and simple gift of being side-by-side.

love is like that. love needs little embellishment. time — hours upon hours stacked together, in one fell swoop — that’s plenty. that’s priceless.

once or twice i heard a whisper from somewhere just beyond my shoulder, or deep inside my head: “he’s turning 24, for heaven’s sake. the clock on this has well run out.” but then i heard another voice, the voice of my heart, and i surrendered. wholly. that voice is the one that will always, always win for me. it said: “doesn’t matter to me how old he is. savoring the day with him will always be the dearest gift of my whole life.”

and so it was. i plucked him from the train, we grabbed a sack of sushi and seaweed salad. always seaweed salad on the first full day of summer, because long ago, in 1993, on the eve of his birth, an obstetrician i loved determined that seaweed applied in particular ways precipitated labor. got things opening, as it were.

we’ve celebrated seaweed ever since.

birthday eve dinner

birthday eve seaweed + sushi

we must have sat for hours at that after-soccer feast, night before last. i know the moon and stars were out before we got up from the table, before we moved deeper into birthday countdown.

there is nothing so fine as falling asleep in a house where every bed is filled. where the sounds of doors closing, sheets being thrown off, odd faucets shushing in unfamiliar rhythms, is lullaby to sleep.

nor is there much finer than tiptoeing down the stairs in the morning, setting the birthday table. opening cards and letters that make you weep as one brother tells the other that he will always be his hero. you can hear the clock ticking toward the day the birthday boy moves away. and so, you hold time, you hold all that fills these hours, as fully and preciously as you know how. you glide through a day savoring. sinking wholly into what’s before you, all around you. you know that soon the distance once again will come. the miles and miles between you. the necessity of phone line. the certainty that law school and life will make these sorts of days just that much more out of reach.

by nightfall, savoring had pulled me in so deeply that i was on a stool reaching to a shelf in the hall closet. i hauled down the old, old, vintage video recorder. i started popping in old tapes. i was mesmerized. i watched my firstborn on his first birthday, not yet walking, barely saying words. i watched my firstborn on his second birthday, all skinny legs and long arms, reaching for a train. calling the train by name. informing all who listened — and we all always listened, believe me — all there was to know about each and every train.

willie yawntalk about binge watching. i could play and replay those tapes from now till law school graduation, i suppose. i ached that i hadn’t been a more committed recorder of the hours. wished i’d spent even one slice of time silently positioning the lens on one ordinary day in the life of that blessed child — not simply the cacophony of a birthday celebration, when so much noise got in the way. wishing perhaps that i could leap back in time, live it once again. inhale more wholly this time the miracle of being mother to this blessed child, who has taken my breath away since the day he was born. and who now, on the cusp of his departure, his moving east, 1,000 miles from where i spend my days, still takes my breath away, still puts the pit-a-pat in my heart that once beat in time with his.

willie shoulder

love you, beautiful will. bless you, today, tomorrow, ever…

an unabashed love note to be sure. i will never run out of words, trying to capture this particular love. it’s the moment that struck me most this week. he leaves any hour now, to catch a train to new mexico, then a plane to martha’s vineyard, then we will all pile in the red wagon and follow the moving van to connecticut, where he’ll move in to his new address. and we’ll drive home, just the three of us, leaving him behind to absorb the law. i’m thinking this move out east will be the one from which there’ll never be a return to the heartland. we’ve trod this ground before, when he went off to college, and i had to learn long-distance. i will do so again. and maybe some day, we’ll be the ones who move — closer to his every day, and the every day of his little brother. i know plenty of you live far from the ones you love. i know distance isn’t measured only in miles. and i’m blessed (beyond measure) that there is no distance in our hearts. 

and with seaweed salad in mind, what are the quirky ways you mark birthdays at your house? 


blessed, blessed day

the plan is this: stitch one blessed stretch of time with as many moments of grace and delight as i possibly can.

already i have been out bowing to the moon, listening to the rush of the wind, the far-off cry of the trains rumbling into the city. the birds, they were quiet, nestled still in their limbs, in their slumber.

see, i hopped out early. barely fluttered an eyelid, saw 6 something winking at me in bright red numbers, leapt. not a moment to waste on this day of days.

listening to my own challenge from yesterday–the birdsong v. the treadmill–i pulled my red-plaid flannel robe tighter, slipped old shoes on my feet and went out to inhale God’s world, to bow to the moon. to use the burgeoning goosebumps as reminder that i am so extraordinarily blessed to be alive, here at the mid-century mark.

in days of old, every move mattered, mattered to the extreme, on my birthday. i made lists, stacked one blessed moment on top of another. and when the birthday ebbed, i ached, thinking i needed to wait a whole nother sweep of the calendar before once again i could indulge in such simple pleasures, stacked one on the other, all through the day.

over the years, i got wiser. realized the true gift was seeing each day as a blessing. stitching grace, beauty, magical moments into any old day on the page.

and so, for instance, i set tables. set them as if it’s my birthday. old blue willow plates, a basket of clementines, coffee poured into my old favorite mug, the red one with little white hearts all around, and a few chips at the rim.

i make rich simple foods, foods of the earth, unadorned as often as possible. a snippet of herb, plucked from my sill, is enough to send me swooning.

i breathe deep, i breathe lasting.

the one gift i give on my birthday is the rare and incredible gift of taking time. i will dally over coffee, take a long walk to no particular place. i will sit before the fire, writing, flipping pages in a book that delights. i will drink in the tick of the clock. i will, thanks to the public school schedule, be with my boys all through this day.

nothing fancy. not a drop. intentionally, consciously so. i will, all through the day, whisper a long-winding prayer: blessed God you have kept me aloft and afloat. have not let me bob under the waters. filled my lungs, filled my heart, filled my arms. i am awake to your gifts, lord. i am awake. and that, in the end, is the most marvelous gift.

may you, each one of you, live this day stitched with riches and grace. simple riches. the ones you can’t buy. the ones that come from living awake.

i sign off hoping and praying that your days and mine, we never forget that each blessed one holds the possibility for all that is breath-takingly, spine-tinglingly good.

that, after all, is the ultimate challenge: to live a day, not in a rush toward some other day, some other deadline. but deeply to dwell in the blessing of blessings. deeply to dwell in the riches within.

may there be even one moment in this day that’s unfolding when you find yourself whispering, ah this is a day that is blessed, this is a double blessed day.