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Archive for the ‘Touching Stories’ Category

First Days

I held his hand tighter as I felt him shake. “Please don’t leave me, I don’t want to stay,” he said. And I wanted to kneel down to him and wrap my arms around him and whisper, “No, of course you don’t have to stay. We will go home to the backyard, to the sunshine and grass. We will count the ants as they march to their hill, and we will lay on our backs and tell the stories of the shapes in the sky. We will hold hands as we jump together into the pool, and laugh as we roll down the hill.”

I longed to hold onto the days that the sun rose and set with just his brother, his daddy, his mommy. I longed to slow the inevitable separation that another year older would only bring closer. But instead of following my breaking heart, I looked him in the eye, pasted a smile to my face, and said, “You’ve got this, buddy. It will be so much fun! Your friends are all here — look! Here comes one now!” And somehow, before I was ready, I felt his hand slip away from my own, and he was across the room in a flash. Just like that, his nerves were calmed, his enthusiasm fanned, his need for me, gone.

I waved and blew him a kiss as I backed out the door, my eyes bright with the tears I refused to let flow.

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I arrived in Kailua/Kona the afternoon after the tsunami did.  Thank God for that.  I should have been on Mauai the night it hit, but another flight attendant asked if I would trade trips with her.  Since her trip was shorter than my own I jumped at the chance to spend more time at home with my boys.  She ended up spending the night with dozens of other evacuated hotel guests crammed into a school bus in a parking lot while the tsunami sirens wailed menacingly throughout the night.  I can only imagine she was kicking herself all night long for the trade.

But what she doesn’t know is that she probably saved me from a full blown panic attack.  Those of you who know me well know that when my oldest son was born I developed a few irrational fears.  One was a fear of flying, or more accurately, of crashing.  Go figure, considering my choice of career.  Another was of being swallowed up by a tsunami.  Actually, it was more specific than that.  It was that I would be trying to outrun a tsunami while carrying my baby.  And then when my second son was born, it was the terror of not being able to run with both a toddler and a baby in my arms, and having one or both of them swept away from me.  Or maybe having to choose between the two of them.  You moms must know what I mean.

In any case, I took six years off from flying, and we very, very rarely went to the beach.  Countless times Patrick would suggest the quick 90 minute road trip to picturesque Cannon Beach, and I would immediately shoot the idea down.  Why play Russian Roulette?  Better to be safe than sorry.  Let’s just turn the sprinklers on and let the kids run through them.  Worst thing I could picture in that scenario was a bee sting, which I felt I could handle.

But then one day I woke up to discover that most of these fears had somehow either dissipated over time, or had just suddenly vanished.  So I recently started back to flying, which I am able to do without giving too much thought to crashing.  I just smother the boys in hugs and kisses before I leave and tell them about a million times that I love them, and I’m so proud of them, and that I am always with them and loving them, even when they can’t see me, and that they are the nicest, smartest, most beautiful and perfect people I have ever known, and on and on until Hayden stops listening and wanders off to find his toys and Addison gets that exasperated look on his face and tells me enough already, we know, we know.

Being back at work pretty much goes hand in hand with going back to the beach, as so many of the places that we fly now are coastal.  So it was a good thing my fear of tsunamis seemed to have diminished.  With the exception of good old Fairbanks, everywhere that I have had a layover has been very near, if not completely, ocean front.

Our van driver took us through Kona, and we were able to see first hand the chaos that a mere foot of water could cause.  Furniture had been pushed through the windows of buildings and out onto the street.  Sidewalks and roads were torn up as though a hundred jackhammers had simultaneously pounded the pavement.  Trees were uprooted.  Debris was in the most unlikely of places.  But it was all so little compared to the devastation that must be Japan.  I cannot even begin to imagine …..

So tomorrow and the next day I will be on Maui.  And now I feel a fear developing in the pit of my stomach, and making its way to the back of my throat.  This time it’s of exploding nuclear plants and the resulting radiation making its way from Japan to the islands.  Irrational, I know, but also a horrible reality for so many as I write this.  I’m keeping quiet about that, though.  Addison already has developed a fascination/fear with the earthquake in Japan and the resulting ‘salami’.

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I spent much of Sunday afternoon in our shop garage, looking through a bunch of our old baby items for things to sell on Craigslist.  I was supposedly tackling the disorganized clutter of assorted outgrown infant carriers and safety gates that has over time evolved into a mountainous collection of all things outgrown, but what I was really doing was taking a nostalgic stroll down memory lane.  And wiping tears from my face with my soon soaked sleeves.

I pulled out our umbrella stroller which had accompanied us on a few trips to Disneyland, and struggled to open it, knowing there was a lock somewhere that was holding it all together, but not remembering quite where.   After shaking it, stomping on it, and yanking on every latch I could find (um, you may want to think twice about buying the Combi City Savvy Stroller in Carolina Sky listed in the Portland Craigslist), the stroller finally flew fully open.  As it did, I was engulfed in the most lovely, sweet cloud of baby smell.  A smell so strong it made my arms begin to ache in that all-encompassing I must hold a baby in my arms right now sort of way.  Which is crazy thinking.

Next, I opened a large plastic tote that turned out to hold an array of size 3-6 month clothes, worn by both Addison (for about a year) and Hayden (for about a minute).  Again, I was overwhelmed by the baby powder smell of newborns that had somehow managed to cling to the fabric through several years of storage.  That’s when a strange sound came from the back of my throat.  Followed by another.  And then a huge intake of air as the sobs overtook me.

What the heck!?  Like I said.  Crazy thinking.

Needless to say, very few things actually made it past my sentimental attachment and into the moving on to another family pile.  But as I sorted, I had plenty of time to think, to reflect, and to wonder where all the time has gone, and how it managed to go so quickly.  And to think about what I would tell my old self about all the things I know now, but didn’t yet then.

Such as…..

1)  I would tell my pregnant self to turn off the Dallas reruns, and actually sleep during all those times I was put on bedrest, because it really is true that once you have kids, years will pass without a full night of sleep.  And that makes for very tired (and cranky) mamas, so sleep all you can, while you can, and when will you ever have a better excuse to sleep than when on bedrest?

2)  I would tell myself not to waste $25. on a bottle of miracle lotion that will keep stretch marks at bay.  It is still sitting unopened in the medicine cabinet.  And turns out to not have mattered, as the dreaded stretch marks never appeared.  According to my sister, she got enough for the both of us.

3)  I would say not to sweat the baby weight.  I’d eventually lose most of it.  But then gain all of it back and more from my ice cream addiction.

4)  I would go back to my quick and unexpected, but complicated, labor with Addison to tell my very scared and bewildered self that I am so proud of her for facing such a scary situation with grace and strength.  And then I would tell her to focus, focus, focus so she would remember that first moment she lay eyes on her baby, because in the next few moments things were about to get a whole lot more complicated and chaotic than they already were, and she wasn’t going to be able to recall that precious moment, no matter how many nights she stayed awake trying to force the memory back.

5)  I would demand that I take more pictures.  Many, many more pictures!  And video.  And to write down the funny things they say and do, right from the very beginning, because once mommy brain sets in, memory goes out the window.

6)  I would tell my exasperated, exhausted self that I am exceptionally blessed to be mommy to two wild, energetic, free-spirited, hugely enthusiastic, hilarious boys and to not miss a minute of it, because it goes so quickly.  And that in the blink of an eye, I will find myself out in the shop surrounded by piles of memories, wondering how all of a sudden I have a 5 year old, and a 2 year old.  And that I would give anything to have some of those lost moments back.  Just to hold on a little longer.

Addison getting to know his Daddy

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Morning Glory

I can’t tell you the number of times in the past nearly five years I have attempted to write about the birth of our son, Addison.  Honestly, I am hardly able to fully think about it.  When I think about what could have so easily happened, and so much that did, I still have to push it aside.

But today is a day that I am reminded how fortunate we are to have this little wonder of a boy in our lives.  A day that I realize how much God’s grace protected us that day, and those that followed.  That even though we weren’t allowed the untempered joy one expects to experience during those first few days of life, we are so very, very blessed to have him with us today.

Manda and Tom, my heart is broken for you.  How blessed your son was to be born into such a loving family, and into the hearts of so many.  My prayers are with you.

‘The morning glory that blooms for an hour differs not at heart from the giant pine that lives for a thousand years.’  –Teitoko Matsunaga

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Dear Gosh,

One of the challenges of living in a blended family is having households with different rules.  In our home, we try not to swear or take the Lord’s name in vain, and are successful most days.  Occasionally someone slips up, but nobody is expected to be perfect 100% of the time.

We went through a period of time, however, when Peyton was often using the phrase “Oh God!” as in “Oh God, that was so funny,” or “Oh my God, did you see that?” or “God, Addison!  Leave me alone!”  The expressions seemed doubly inappropriate coming from such a little girl.

So we began to talk to her about what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain, and why we wished that she wouldn’t.  We asked her to save God’s name for when she is actually talking to or about God.  We gave her a plethora of other expressions that we approved of for expressing disdain, irritation, excitement, and just about everything else.  She easily made the switch.

What we didn’t take into consideration was that her little brother Addison, was listening to all of this, and trying to sort out in his younger mind when it was appropriate to say “God” and when it wasn’t.  Apparently he opted for the safe side, and just not saying it at all.

That night, as Patrick knelt beside him for bedtime prayers, precious little Addison bowed his head, folded his hands, and prayed, “Dear Gosh, Please bless mommy, bless daddy….”

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