So today I put my younger daughter onto yet another plane for yet another great adventure — this one half-way around the world. We said goodbye at security, hugging, hugging, hugging, then hugged once more before she handed her passport and boarding pass to the agent. Then she slowly progressed through security, turning and waving, turning and waving, turning and waving. I worked hard not to break down in tears, and I succeeded.

I’ve written before about the durable, flexible umbilical cord that links me forever to my children. It’s a bond I can barely understand, much less describe. Right now, that red, ropy tether is stretched somewhere over the Pacific. I know it won’t snap. It’s made of tough stuff, supple and stubborn as it was when it fed her in the womb. My womb. The nest that hatched three children — weird, when you think about it — and dropped them into the world. Plop! Plop! Plop! A soft landing for each of them, straight into those striped white swaddling blankets found in every hospital.

I look at them now with wonder and gratitude: wonder that I had something to do with them; gratitude to God, their late dad and the mystical happenstance of timing for bringing them into my life. Had they been conceived one second earlier or one second later, they’d be different people: that, too, is weird when you think about it. Weirder still when I remind myself, as I often do, that my sister’s suicide in 1992 first inspired me to get pregnant. If she hadn’t died, Chris and I might have postponed baby-making for another couple years, and who knows which babies might have popped out then? Weird weird weird. When it happened, and she downed all those pills in her bedroom, I was clobbered by grief and confused by a universe that would snatch such a loving soul so soon. I wanted to fill it with another. It was that simple. I wanted someone new to love, some new life to cherish in the contorted face of death. This was a primal urge: procreate, woman! How better to shake my fist at the reaper than to usher in new life?plane view

And so I did, and there they are: my three enduring gifts. Some days, at my lowest, I wonder if I’m serving God as I’m supposed to, if I’m living and loving as I’m called to. I wonder about my failures as a human being, my woundedness, the way I strive but stumble through this world. I am not perfect. I try and fail, I love and lose, I grapple with my own pain in ways that end up hurting others. But when I look at my beautiful children, and I remember their beautiful father — so strong and passionate and compassionate and constant and loving and giving and good — I realize I did something right. Or something right happened to me.

Waving goodbye to my intrepid middle kid this morning, I said thanks to God and the whims of fate that timed my children perfectly. They are my three miracles. I’m grateful for them, and for everyone else I’ve been blessed to love in this world. For love has its own logic. Love has its own laws. At this moment, my love defies gravity and carries my daughter across the ocean to the vast unknown. I’m with her and I’m here, I’m earthbound and I’m flying, I’m nervous and I’m joyous all the same. Weird.



on foresight and flying: a rant

I HATE not knowing things. Hate it. Hatehatehatehate. And yet I know I can’t know more than I already know, or I’d lose my mind, and I know that can’t happen, because I gotta hang on to that thing no matter what.

This is what I can’t stand about not knowing: NOT KNOWING. “More will be revealed,” say folks in A.A., but to me this aphorism begs the question: about what, exactly? YOU WANT TO GET SPECIFIC, PEOPLE? I find myself repeating the line myself, over and over and over, barking out a truism designed to drive everyone nuts. And yet, on hearing it, we all cross our arms and nod not-knowingly, saying, AHHHH, YESSSSS, THAT’S SO WIZZZZZZE. And it is indeed WIZZZZZZZE. I am so so super-glad I never knew most of the shit that’s happened to me before it happened, especially the really bad shit; and the worse the shit, the more relieved I’ve been about not-knowing it.

That said, I’ve always been impatient. I’ve always wanted to grab exclusive sneak-peaks into the future, especially any future involving exam results, Christmas gift contents and cute boys. Although, if I had my pick of godly Marvel superpowers, I’d probably choose flying over foresight. It’s what I do when I find myself in a dream: I realize, Hey! Yay! Excellent! I’m not awake, so I can fly! and then I just flip open a window and bomb around the sky in my pajamas. Flying PLUS foresight would be really cool, because then I’d know exactly which direction to head in for the most exciting Christmas gifts and cutest boys. Whenever I have another lucid dream, I’ll have to give that a whirl.

This not knowing: It makes me feel like a kid again, a dizzy one wearing a blindfold whose purported caring friends and purported loving parents have spun her around and around and around and then pointed her in the wrong direction, saying, “Go ahead and pin the tail! Ha ha ha! There’s the donkey! Ha ha ha!” knowing damn well the poor wee thing will never find the donkey in that state. Ignorance is such an essential part of the human condition that we make a game out of it at our children’s birthday parties. At least we used to in the 70s. But we were so much more sadistic then.

So I’m in the dark. You’re in the dark. Everyone’s in the dark. We wander around in the pitch black, blind as bats without the aid of echolocation, following each other’s voices, bumping into each other’s butts, chasing after pin-pricks of light in the distance. And somehow we get from point A to point B and point B to point C, although we have no idea how far up the alphabet we’re supposed to progress. And which alphabet? What if I’ve been using the wrong one? What if it’s, like, cyrillic?

I guess that’s why they call it faith. I guess that’s why we’re here. So I guess I’ll just have to keep groping blindly along, crashing into whatever butts I meet en route to wherever I’m going. A girl can hope.

the tsa ’n me (or you)

It starts with the hand-swipe. You know when that young man with the glasses asks you to reach out, palms up, so he can check for chemicals and you smile and say yes, okay, sure thing, ha ha ha, thanks for keeping us safe? And hold up your palms as directed? There. It starts there.

A few beats later, a small clutch of TSA agents swoops politely but firmly over and explains that they found some shit on your hands. They don’t actually call it “shit,” but that’s what they mean, and that’s what you hear, and immediately you question that innocent floral hand-soap you used that morning, or the face-cream, or that fudge you nibbled in the kitchen in the wee small hours before you left for the airport.

Quickly the swooping agents communicate with other swooping agents, and soon they’re picking through your luggage one sloppily packed undergarment at a time, looking for yet more shit, swiping everything with a plug: your iPhone, your brand-new Acer laptop, your GPS.

Meanwhile, two of your offspring have been herded over from the non-terrorist-threat portion of the airport to sit and observe your hilarious good fun with the TSA. You take three steps forward to converse with the fruit of your loins when a fresh new swooper swoops over, telling you, the shit-swiped mother from Albany, to back off in a manner that suggests the fate of the free world depends upon it. Continue reading