These past few weeks have been tough. I am in the process of loosing a woman who meant a great deal to me. Though I haven't seen her in years because of distance she continues to be a massive influence on who I am and what I do.
She is in fact part of a team of strong, smart, powerful women who have shaped my view on things as varied as political ideals, propriety, feminism and femininity, marriage, environmental awareness, and what it takes to through a good party. (If any one cares its copious amounts of liquor - Drambuie and Southern Comfort - and Disco, preferably Bonny M and when its closing time, a few melancholy songs from 'back home' with a wee bit 'o pipes)
Last week I wrote her a letter explaining how much she has formed who I am and I hoped she heard it. Tonight was my time to say good bye and I love you out loud.
I realized as I waited for the nurse to pass the phone over that there is no social protocol when it comes to saying the long good bye. There is no "How are you doing?" We know that answer; not good. Theres certainly no "How are you feeling" because we really know that answer and "Talk to you soon" just seems cruel. So I said Thank you, I love you and I am sorry I wasn't around more and I love you again. There was so much that I wish that one 45 second conversation could have held. But through tears those three things were the only ones I could get out. In return she told me not to cry, that all she wants is for us to have a big party in her honor and for us to dance. She told me she enjoyed life and she hopes I do to.
After each of us had our turn to say good bye my two sisters and I met at my parents house. It only seemed right. We got together and cried. We got together and started to refile through our parents closet in search of our life story and stories of the ones we have lost and are now in the midst of loosing. After the command for us to enjoy life the three of us decided tonight was a fitting time to look back and celebrate what our lives have been thus far. We found our stories and our celebration in boxes and boxes of photos.
This emotional walk down memory lane was done in the middle of our parents bed surrounded by hundred (thousands?) of images of tens of thousands of great moments and memories. Sitting there, watching our family being formed and grow in photos of weddings, Christmases, Christenings, camping trips, birthdays, dog walks, trips to the cottage, Bar-B-Qs, proms, anniversaries, showers, school plays, bike rides, etc etc etc I began to understand that right now, in my life, is the best part. It dawned on me looking through the images of those who mean the most to me, raising me, that right this moment I am sitting in the middle of what I am positive will be the best part of my life.
So much of the time I do my thing, parenting, wifeing (theres a new word for you...) even sometimes working, that I forget that as hard, tiering, financially difficult, stressful, and emotionally draining things are right now they are also so much fun. Even as a rather bizarre teenager I knew the home I came from, the family I had, was equal to a big win on a lotto ticket. I have people, I have roots and even still I thought I had to go above, go beyond. To do what, I wasn't sure, but I was convinced I should be doing something more. Yet here I am and it blows my mind that things have managed to get even better without not even one noble peace prize, oscar nod or book deal. In the finding of my partner, and the raising of my children I have found a way of reaching back to that golden time of my own childhood and realized that life is so much more then a set list of should dos and need to dos. My house may be filled to the rafters with the detritus that comes with young children and pets but it is also filled with more adventures, more fun and more love then I would have ever dreamed possible as a painfully awkward teenager. There is no number of banal distractions that should cause me to forget to appreciate that.
So today as what is possibly the last gift my Grandma will give to me me; she taught me the lesson that right now, even with its dirty cat boxes, dish filled sinks, piles of laundry and burnt dinners is what I will be holding tight to me decades from now. Because the on other side to that chaos and work are moments like I just had, holding my baby boy, warm and peaceful to my breast. Watching him dream and then sneaking a peak at Isla, limbs helter-skelter over top, around and under toys and pillows and bed clothes, talking in her sleep about horsies and rainbows. With the everyday comes the sublime, the adventures and the oh so (almost) sacred memories that make up what it is to be alive.
Today may not have been extra ordinary other then my all too brief phone call and the emotional evening with my sisters. It was a day filled with nursery school runs, lunch with a dear friend, an adventure with two kids, no map, a 40 minute drive and fierce determination to pick up a used baby carrier I scoped out on Kijiji. All of that followed by a experimental dinner invented on the spot. But each of those things, are the types of things that makes this life, a good life, one that I can enjoy, just like I was taught.