God Gave Me Today

I drove Kate to school today.  It was in the forties this morning but today it was sunny, so I opened the sun roof and let the sun warm my face as I drove home. Most Mondays I am full of a kind of joy that is hard to express in words…everything is beautiful — the rain, the sun, dead leaves swirling in the wind, the sound of the dryer, the finger prints on the windows…  

This morning didn’t feel like that, though.

I was a big fat meanie last night. It doesn’t really matter why. I was mean. I left. I drove around the neighborhood, up and down the streets, past warmly-lit houses. I drove to the plaza and sat in the parking lot at 8:30 watching people go in and out of the store. Watching their puffs of breath in the chilly air. Wondering what they were doing there…what they were buying…where they lived…what their life was like.  Watching a stray leaf fall here and there, making its slow spiral to the ground in the lamplight.  Wondering what just happened to me. Wondering what my family was doing. Wondering if my kids were worried about where I was. Remembering things that were said to me, and things that I said. 

I went home and Ella was already asleep. Her hair was still wet from the shower. She fell asleep with a pillow over her head because Kate was vacuuming at bedtime and it was too loud. I took the pillow off, and straightened her hair out with my fingers. She always looks so little when she sleeps…she and jellycat in a tangled knot of crimson tresses and nubby fur, fleece polka dots and freckles and loved-off whiskers. She brings me to my knees, the way her face is softly illuminated by the light of the stairway every night. I sat by her for a minute, just breathing.

I am lucky. 

God gave me another day. 

God gave me today.

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God Gave Me Today

Where Joy Resides

I could tell from the darkness that morning that it was still raining, and after weeks with no rain, I was glad for the dim light.  I smelled the coffee brewing and listened to the quiet house.  I knew The Man had gone downstairs…probably working on his fantasy football team. 

It was Henry that was next to me.  He smelled of shampoo and soap.  His cheeks were pink from a beautiful day spent outside yesterday.  He sniffled.  I hoped it wasn’t the start of a cold.

I listened to him.  To the sound of him breathing…sniffling…rustling the blankets.  I reached over and toussled his hair and he, not quite asleep, opened his eyes and smiled.

When you least expect it, it creeps in.  It comes disguised as a soapy-scented, pink-cheeked little boy and warm blankets on a rainy Sunday morning.  Joy resides in these small moments.  Those that may seem the most ordinary are the ones in which beauty is bound.

P.S.  It was a cold.  He is home sick today.  After only 4 days of school, that boy has a cold.  Seriously?

Where Joy Resides

Full.

We sat on the stoop last night, with our wine and our new tradition.  A few weeks ago, it was still light at 8:30, but not last night.  Last night, it was cool, and it was dark.  The crazy night bugs clicked and hissed and we listened to their cacophany of sounds.  Our little citronella candles flickered, (I still got bitten), and we talked. 

We talked about Coco.  I said I missed him.  It strikes me at odd moments like that.  I thought about how, if he were still alive, he would be curled up right behind us, he legs stretched out so that his scratchy-padded feet would rest on our backs.  I miss that.  We talked about how he would roll over and moan.  I’ve never before, and never since, heard a dog moan like he did.  And then we talked about how he would stretch out, so that by the end of an evening, I would be smooshed into the arm of one end of the couch, The Man into the other end, and ol’ Coco would be fully laid out in the middle.  We talked about what a good dog he was.  Those memories are good, good memories.  Yes, I miss that dog, and I guess I always will.

We talked about how we’re going to landscape things…like we always do.   

We talked about Henry, when he was a baby, when our life was still full of levity, and our schedule was still full of freedom.  The funny things he used to do, even as a baby.  He has always been (just a bit of) a clown. 

What we didn’t talk about were the hard memories.  The sad things. 

It’s amazing how life turns out.  How your life can be so chock full o’ joy that you can hardly stand it.  And then all of a sudden, those things that bring you joy can start falling like ducks, right out of the air.  And you become sort of an unfilled person.  And there is no joy.

And then, one September day, God dumps this little miracle right into your lap.  Sometimes it takes a little while to think of it that way.  But soon, the dreams of what your life will be like start to look a little prettier.  And you come around.  

I came around.

I watched her this weekend.  Her hair was thrown up in a messy bun, and loose strands floated by her face in the breeze.  I saw how the afternoon sun lit in her hair.  And how her freckles, still tiny little pinpoints, dotted her nose and cheeks.  And she was stunning.  She was absolutely stunning.

“Ella, you are stunning.”

“No.”

“You really are.”

“No.”

And I just smiled, because she fills me.

Full.