There's Nothing Wrong With Your Eyes

I have been decluttering. The drawers, the closets, the cupboards.

And finally, the blog.

Last and least. But finally, done.

When I went to clean it up, it was in a woeful state. Apparently, I had long-since stopped actually seeing it.

Over Christmas break, I drove Caleb down to the DMV to get his driving learner's permit. Before he took the written exam the woman at the counter said he needed to take the eye test. She had him press his forehead against the machine and then said, "Read the second line."

Caleb was quiet.

"Read the second line."

More silence. He looked up at me. Confused.

"Just read the line," I said, helpfully.

He put his head back in the machine and pulled it out again. "It's blurry," he mouthed at me.

I said, "Just read it." I am nothing if not helpful.

He started tentatively reading.

The woman looked at me. "Are you his mother?"

I nodded.

"Um, he can't see."

"Yes he can."

"No, ma'am. He's reading numbers and there aren't any numbers on the line."

He looked at me and shook his head. He couldn't see anything. Too bad. I had such high hopes for that "Mother Of The Year Award" in 2013.

And I asked myself, all the way home, all the way to the optomistrist, how I missed something like that. Blindness, I mean. What else was I missing?   It's staggering to consider.  When we got to the car, Caleb admitted that the board was blurry at school, but that he was "managing."

I protested, "But you don't have to 'manage.' Just tell us and we'll help you."

In the days and weeks since he got his glasses, Caleb has commented that his vision has "deteriorated." David asked him what he meant. He said that now when he takes his glasses off he can hardly see, everything is blurry. Um, exactly. That's how it has always been and he just didn't know that the world could be different than that.

Was blind, but now I see.

caleb.JPG

Not Many Stranger Things Have Happened

Don't you wish I had something to say? Something funny? Something clever? Dare you hope, something worth reading?

Ya, me too.

I've figured out that Monday night is the perfect time to write, while I wait for my kids to finish practicing Mozart's 40th Symphony with their orchestra. I have a couple of hours to kill, with no one to interrupt or nagging laundry to protest.

Perfect.

Trouble is, my inspiration has not coincided with my calendar.

Pity, that.

What's left is a recitation of our strange-but-true weekend. (Sure to be less than brilliant. If you give up here, I'm not going to say you made the wrong decision.)

I had a mild-to-moderate breakdown on Thursday night. (David would definitely characterize it as more moderate, bordering on complete lunacy, but he's not telling this story.) Anyway, by the time Friday morning was upon us, I think he had given up all hope of a decent weekend.

(This is not the strange part.)

After I dropped the kids off to make their way through the final day of the quarter, I went to the gym. (Again, contrary to popular opinion, this is also not the strange part.) But instead of the treadmill or the Zumba class, I went to yoga, to try and get my brain or my hormones or my chakras in line. While I was in downward dog, I realized I needed my toes painted. (Look how focused I am in yoga! I am so good at so many things!) So, uncharacteristically, I went to get a pedicure. The girl at the salon said "Do you want a manicure too?"

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"Okay."

And while she was doing my manicure and we were sitting face-to-face, she said, "Do you want your eyebrows waxed?" I think if anyone asks you that question, it's just like if someone asks you if you want a mint. They're trying to tell you something. And yes, you want one.

So what else could I say? "Yes."

And while she was waxing my eyebrows, she said, "Do you want me to do your lip too."

You got it.

It was a strange morning.

But I did feel better.

Strangely so. Even David noticed the change and found something a little odd when he kissed me at the end of the day. "What happened?" he asked.

On Saturday between sessions of General Conference we ran to Old Navy to get fleece coats for our weekend in Utah. While we were there I tried on (gasp!) and bought (shock and awe!) a pair of skinny jeans. I know, downright eerie. Who knows what possessed me, as normally I don't like my clothes to actually touch me. But there you go.  It's fair to say that by the end of the weekend, I was practically unrecognizable.

And then, perhaps strangest of all, on Saturday night, after priesthood session, all the other kids were at friends' houses, so Caleb and David and I went for sushi. And over chef special rolls and wonton soup we talked about the new missionary age announced that morning. And what it would mean to us.

My sister Rachel had texted me that morning: How does it feel to have just lost a year?

Strange, indeed.

(And yes, to answer your question, that is an enormous amount of sushi for three people.  We strangely, notoriously, invariably overorder.  Saturday night was no exception.)

Something Like Romance

Are you tired of stories about interviews and plane flights and having faith?  Sigh.  Me too.  Believe me, it is even more tiresome to be living them.  (This morning David said, "How do you feel about Waco, Texas?"  Um, yeah, not exactly top on my list.)  This morning then, how about a story of romance?  Don't worry.  There is little or no necking involved.

On Saturday night, Caleb went to Teen Elect.  He dressed in his new suit and his dad's hand-me-down tie, put gel in his hair and let me comb the back down.  I could smell cologne and toothpaste.

Teen Elect is where you learn about manners and dancing and how to make conversation with someone of the opposite sex.  Olivia has been looking forward to it for two years now.

When I dropped Caleb off, he said, "Aren't you going to come in with me?"  I wasn't.  But I parked and led him inside.  He got his nametag, he found out where to go, he gave me a side-shuffling hug, and disappeared into the unknown.

I picked him up three hours later.

"Did you have fun?  How was it?"

"It was interesting."

"How was the dance?"

"Interesting."

"How were the classes?"

"Interesting.  Kind of boring."

"What did they talk about?"

"Wearing deodorant and always having a mint."

"Did you have fun?"

"I'm not sure.  It was interesting.  And awkward.  Very awkward."

Olivia and Savannah were waiting on the couch for us when we got home.  Waiting with bated breath.  They have been waiting for weeks, truth be told.  They were ready for a story of romance, a story of love and lust, of fancy ballrooms and meaningful looks.

"Soooooo, how was it?" 

"Interesting."

"Tell us everything!  Did you dance?" 

"Of course.  They made us."

"Who did you dance with?"

"Lots of people.  We had to."

"Were the girls cute?"

"I don't know."

"What were they wearing?" 

"I don't know."

"What color were their eyes?"

"Oh, come on, Olivia."

And then Olivia sighed hugely, "Oh, it sounds sooo romantic."

I looked at her.  Romantic?  The way Caleb tells it, it was just this side of painful.

And then she said, "I can't wait for teen elect.  My favorite part is the hip part."

I asked, "What's the hip part?"

"You know, the part when the boy puts his hand on your hip." 

Heaven help us.

The next day we pried a few more details from him.  I asked him if he talked to the girls while he was dancing.

"Of course," he said. "They taught us that."

"What did you talk about?"

"I asked them their favorite color."

"O...kay.  Anything else?"

"One girl asked me what school I go to and I said 'Stapley'."

"But you don't go to Stapley."

"I know, but it seemed easier.  But then she said, 'I go to Stapley.  Why haven't I ever seen you?' and I was like 'Umm, yeah, I lied about that.'"

Olivia gasped, "And then did she slap you?  Oh that sounds soooo romantic."

For Love

By now, you've probably made it to the fifth stage of grief...and accepted the idea that there might never be another post on this blog again.

It has been a long couple of months. 

I have been so far underwater that I had to give a few things up.  Among these were blogging, homemaking, and being happy.  Do you know how much time and energy these things take?  For a few days I even gave up breathing and thinking and being likable.  All of them much too difficult given the pressure I have been under.

[Olivia gave me a card for my birthday a few weeks ago.  In an attempt to be encouraging, it said, "April Showers Bring May Flowers" and she had made little pop-ups.  My pop-up had my face in a thunder cloud complete with rain and lightning and all my children were little pop-up flowers.  She gave me an admonishing hug to go with it.  There have been days when I nearly die of shame seeing it.]

Anyway, the sun is finally coming out.  Thank heavens for that.

I talked to Barb on the phone on Sunday night.

She mentioned how I was clear down on her blog roll just above the private bloggers.  I sighed and changed the subject.  Because, as some of you know, I have a serious crush on Barb and it nearly killed me to know I had disappointed her.  (Gosh, I hope that was disappointment in her voice and not relief.)  The next day I nearly wrote a post because, like I said, this is a serious crush.  But even love could not overcome my debilitating list of obligations and a few more days passed.

Last night I went to the ballpark where two of my children were playing simultaneous games on different fields.  It was exactly like my current life, moving from field to field, catching glimpses of my children's lives as I try to be in three places as once.  And let me tell you, I'm not as good at that as you might think.

But eventually, Ethan's game ended and I sat on the bench with the rest of my family watching the end of Olivia's game.  Near the end of the game, David left to get Chinese food and Caleb nonchalantly got up from the bench and walked over to the fence.  There was a girl a few feet away talking to her friend, and now and then he would glance over at her and then turn and intently watch the game.

I was stunned.

This is one of those moments, I told myself.  A moment where all the moments after this one will be different.

He edged a bit closer but the game was nearly over, and I could see both his hesitation and his bravery in the hands he had shoved in his pockets.

And then, there was a serendipitous fly ball.  Everyone yelled, "Heads up!"  The ball landed behind them and it was enough for Caleb to catch her eye and start a conversation.

Last night in bed, David plied me for more details, "What did he say?"

"I don't know."

"What did they talk about?"

"I don't know."

He was frustrated by my lack of eavesdropping skills.

I told him, "Don't you see?  It's not what he said to her.  It's the thought of going to talk to her at all.  Can't you see what's happening?  He's leaving.  He's going to find a wife and build a house and a life and a covenant with her."  I tried to explain it--this quiet, roaring moment, this thing that had happened, that looked small but was actually as big as eternity, this leaving our bench to go to talk to a girl, even though he was unsure and nervous.

I was awed to find that this did not make me sad.  Not one little bit.  I felt happy and proud and amazed and reverent.  I felt like telling heaven to look, to look down and see the miracles in my life, to see the wonder of its creation.  I felt like I had swallowed the whole depth and breadth of eternity between the pitching counts of one batter at a little league softball game.  I felt like Rebekah

David had gone with Caleb that very afternoon to his sixth-grade maturation program at school and so he could only say, "I know." 

And then he kissed me.

And now, because you've been so good and patient, a small, subtle picture story about the beginning of the end.  I am only glad I was there to witness it myself.

 

A Glimpse of Eternity in My Fridge

It is the last week of January.

I can tell because the oranges on my trees are ripe and ready for juicing.

It is the last week of January.

I can tell because David took calls all night long, all weekend long from the hospital.  They are busy and so is he.

It is the last week of January.

I can tell because my body has its own special kind of pain it serves when I am stressed and last night it was in rare form.  After the holidays and a brief reprieve, the stress is mounting.  The last week of January is always the week when reality hits (I committed to what? when?) and panic sets in.

It is the last week of January.

On Thursday, Rachel came for lunch.  (Well, technically, Rachel brought lunch but I hosted and provided plates and water bottles.  Scratch that.  I think it was just water bottles.  But that's something, right?)

At the end of the conversation the FedEx man arrived with a package full of transporter swabs.  Rachel said, "Oh, it must be that time of year."

Indeed.  It is the last week of January and science fair is upon us again.

Caleb and I spent a good part of our Saturday preparing petri dishes for their little colonies.  Water baths and bleached countertops and rows upon rows of future prokaryotic houses.  I had to clean out the fridge, which I found amusing.  Cleaned out the fridge to make room for bacteria.  Reminded me of my college days and the fridge full of cow hearts and the freezer full of dead insects I used to keep before they saw the knife or the pin.  Hard to believe I'm still friends with those roommates, huh?

On Saturday night David and I went to dinner and after I talked his ear off about my writing class he asked me again, "Now why weren't you an English major?"

I shrugged, as baffled as he.

But this morning as I drove Caleb around town and acted as instructor and assistant as he collected aseptic samples of the bacterial flora at different offices, I thought there might have been a reason after all.

Perhaps only so that someday I could mother this particular boy in this particular way on this particular last week of January.

It is the last week of January.

I can tell because this morning I remembered that nothing happens by accident.

Brace Yourself

David told me to be sure to take "before" and "after" shots.

As you wish.

Before:

And after:

I'm still reeling.

(Which tends to make me melodramatic.)

David and I stared at each other over dinner, half-bemused at our children trying to navigate new ways for food to move around their mouths and half-confounded that so much life has apparently come and gone. 

Across the table David asked me quietly, "When did we get so old?"

I looked at him, at the gray hair at his temples, at the creases across his brow, at this man who was just barely one when I became his wife, and the years we've shared together stretched between us.  A brief moment and an eternity at once.  I just shook my head.

Today I went to the temple.  I needed back-up.  Reinforcement and buttressing.  And a reminder about the promises of forever.  When time feels scarce, views of eternity are required.  While I was there being tended to by a lovely white-haired angel who told me several times how beautiful I am, she asked me if I was a member of a student ward.  She could hardly imagine the truth.

And neither can I.

"I was yesterday," I wanted to say, "Today I am taking three of my four children to the orthodontist.  I can't even think about tomorrow."  Time is a bully.

So I find myself staring at my children.  I am at a loss to do much else, the gorgeous creatures.

And brace myself to be undone by beauty, by brevity, by becoming.

I've shared Mr. Hershon's poem before, and now after, I will share it again.  It is only getting truer.

 

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?

by Robert Hershon

Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand

Things That Are Worth Driving 20 Hours For

I call this, "Roadtripping with a Purpose."

On Friday morning, we set the alarm and instead of dressing for school we headed north in the early morning light.

We drove all day.  And tomorrow we will drive all day back home.

But there are things worth driving 20 hours for.  I present them below for your reference. 

 

1.  For this undivided view.  (This is reason enough, by the way, but there are more.)

2.  To see LaVell Edwards Stadium lit up at night.

3.  To watch the moon rise spectacularly over the Rocky Mountains.

4.  For the bird's eye view.

5.  For these smiles.  (Alma mater's sons and daughters.)

6.  To be this close to the action.

7.  To deliver a baby gift.  (It's better in person.)

8.  But mostly, for this series of pictures here...I post them all because of the story they tell.  Be still my beating heart.

I am nearly undone by the picture of "eternity" I captured, quite by accident, in the first picture, as my husband, and our boy get ready for Caleb's first priesthood session of General Conference.  They are going to the Conference Center where they will sit and listen in the very same room as the prophet of God. 

It was worth it. 

And then some.