Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blessed is the Life

A life is a story comprised by so many mundane moments, strung together over time, and punctuated by a spattering of majestic milestones.  Many of the most beloved memories are not the most dramatic--a soft smile after the children are all asleep, the squeeze of a hand, a shared sunset.  Those closest to us remember the life...others simply recall a story or two.

Sometimes, History claims a claims a life.  Sometimes a story.  People do the same.  Sometimes a story affects us so profoundly, that the essence of it stays with us forever...if not the specifics. 

As you bend down to tie you son's perpetually untied shoe, you think Remember that man who would have died in the Twin Towers but for the fact that his shoelace broke and he stopped to buy a new pair?  His name is long lost to most of us, but that moment is ingrained forever in your mind.

When you hear the name John Wilkes Booth, you are likely to think "The Man Who Shot Lincoln."  Unless you are a historian, you are not likely to recall much else about his life, or character, or family.

We listen to these stories on the news, enthralled, unable to look away.  We hear bits, little snippets, sound clips designed to grab our attention and pull our heart strings.  We superimpose the face of our child on each victim.  We weep and pray and curse.

This moment, their last terrifying moment, sears itself on our soul.  Years from now we will remember the anguished face that flashed on the television scream, the line of children--hands linked--marching away from the unspeakable.  Each angelic face, their innocent eyes, will haunt us.  And our eyes will still swell with tears of gratitude at the memory of the brave teachers who pulled children to safety--at those who ran towards the gunfire...not away.

Others, however, will remember more than that.  They will remember shared conversations, and laughter, and first steps and first birthdays.  They will recall a myriad of hopes and dreams, and fears, shared in quiet whispers.  They will smile over the petty bickering, the practical jokes, the odd quirks and preferences that used to annoy but are now unspeakably precious.

We will remember the story.

They will remember the life.

Saturday, December 15, 2012 and at the hour of our death.

I thought I was having a bad week.  There were sick kids, and a sick me.  Day after day of sharing our lone bathroom as the stomach flu ravaged our family.  At one point, late at night, my middle child and I sat next to one another, perched in front of the toilet, taking turns being ill and hoping this delicate give and take was not unbalanced. 

There was laundry piling up, the normal variety as well as the extra caused by the germs that ran rampant.  The house smelled of sick, and bleach, and Lysol.  Extra blankets were pulled out to counter the chills that seemed to have taken root deep inside, never allowing any of us to feel quite warm enough--despite the fact that fevers raged and brows dripped with sweat.

The ill tempers of three tired children and an exhausted mother made us poor companions as the germs and fevers began to subside.  We were all cranky, and weak, and ready to get back to normal.  So off to school and work we all ventured, still a bit shaky, but desperate for the company of someone who had not thrown up next to us, or stole the remote control, or drank the last of the ginger ale.

A midday call from my husband broke the news of the shooting.  The rest of the day was filled with the bits and snippets that filtered through the news, some true and some not.  The details began to fill in, and the full horror of the Newtown massacre began to emerge. 

There is a desire, in times of crisis, to try to find out more details, more images, more information.  We consume the stories, gorge on them, gnawing on every morsel that the media presents.  Each grainy moment frozen in time, every sound bite.... 

No one wanted to be at work.  Even though there was over a thousand miles between my hometown and Newtown, my mind remained there for the rest of the day.  No one wanted to be anywhere but home, with their family, holding their children, and thanking God that it wasn't their daughter, their son.

I thought I was having a bad week.

Thank God for the piles of laundry, the bickering voices bellowing from another room.  Bless their messy rooms and their hair that needs brushing.  I am so blessed to tuck my sassy, loud, unruly children into bed and to kiss their heads before I stumble over a stray Lego on my way out. 

Tonight, we will have a special dinner, all of us, and I will try not to cry as their voices--always intentionally out of cadence--bless the food.  As they complain, and goad, and talk over one another, I will sit back and bask in the beauty of my wonderfully imperfect family. 

Tomorrow, they can clean their room.  Soon, I will shush them, and sigh, and roll my eyes again...but for tonight, I will remember my blessings.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Want, I Want, I WANT!

In this season of giving, I thought I might casually mention a few items  bunch of stuff that a certain red-headed writer might like for Christmas.  This is also a good list to work off of if you happen to have any geeky writer-types on your Christmas list.

So, in no particular order, I want:

1.  Canned Unicorm Meat.  Count on the fabulous minds over at ThinkGeek to come up with something as horrifically fun as canned unicorn meat.  (NOTE:  take a moment and read their product descriptions.  Seriously...go there now.)  I really want to put this in the break room at work and install a hidden camera to watch all the fun reactions.  Because I am just sick like that.  Oh, come on, I can't be the only one!  Admit it.  You want some, too!

2.  Sonic Screwdriver TV Remote.  This is also from ThinkGeek.  It is a Doctor Who TV remote that you can use to control your television (duh).  Read the description in order to fully understand how amazingly awesome this remote is, and how unbearably cool I would be waving it at the television.  Especially so that it would be mine, ALL MINE!

3.  Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  I also need the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, because somehow (unspeakably!) this is not in my library.  I have no idea how this deplorable oversight happened, but I hope to rectify it immediately. 

4.  Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty.  I need this shirt.  Because my kids really do sing it to me when we are at the sad part of any movie and I start getting teary.  And it really does help to soothe me.  Sing it with me:  Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur.....

5.  Gift Baskets.  Also, I love gift baskets--especially the food type.  There is just something about all those tiny boxes tucked inside of a pretty basket.  All those foods and treats that you would never think to normally buy...too expensive, too "frilly" and impractical.  But when given as a gift, well, it would rude not to indulge. 

Check back in for more Geek Gift Ideas, and feel free to leave suggestions for your favorite geeky or writerly gift.  I will keep adding more ideas as the holidays creep closer!