We were together.

I honestly don’t remember a day when I wasn’t in love with you, David Paul.  Some days I wake up and think

Oh my God, he is still here 

because I can’t even imagine why you would stick around with me…and yet there you are.

And for twenty years, you have come back home to me every night. I can believe there were times that it didn’t seem like an entirely desirable option. But you came home anyway, poured yourself a bourbon and walked straight into the fire. Sometimes I think I may have even heard you whistling…

I guess this means we’re really stuck with each other. We’re actually going to make it.

I guess I always knew we would.

Happiest anniversary David.  I would marry you all over again.  Every time, without fail, I would choose you.



We were together.

I forget the rest.

–Walt Whitman

We were together.

What We Live By

The Woods
This morning is another gray morning, our landscape blanketed in clouds.  Most mornings, lately, have been gray.  Our family room faces the woods, and beyond the woods is woven a river.  The trees are old and grand — their gnarled bark painted with lichen the color of a seafoam crayon.  Beyond the treeline, above the river, you can see eagles soaring.  Somewhere across the river lies a range.  The echo of gunfire easily drifts across the river in this still air to rest here in the quiet winter landscape.

Last night, for what seemed like hours, there were helicopters circling above these old trees…their searchlights illuminating the darkness, seeking something, someone.  Over and over they came and left, flying so low the house shook.  I wonder who they were looking for.  I wonder what finally made the helicopters rest.

This little woodpecker climbs up and down the tree about ten feet from the window, completely oblivious to my presence.  Completely ignorant to the world’s problems, to my problems, to helicopters and conflict and tragedy.  Sometimes I think we are like that…oblivious to each other.  Ignorant of what is really happening in each others’ lives.

We’ve (inadvertently maybe) taught our children to believe that Christmas is about celebrations and presents and lights and overindulgence.  That the measure of living a good life is about what kind of car you drive and how many vacations you took, not about how well we are looking after one another.  And even though we teach them the story of Jesus’ humble birth, and we take them to Mass and we think we live like good Christians because we share what we can, they still don’t really understand.  Is that just the nature of childhood?

When Kate was little, I remember wanting her to feel as though she was safe.  That the world was a good place, full of good things.  I didn’t want her to know that some children go hungry.  I didn’t want her to know that some children will die, or that some will live lives that no child should have to live, and that just as there are good things in the world, there are some very bad things. But slowly, my children are beginning to understand the problems some face. Someday, they will understand that someone’s problems last night were bad enough that helicopters were circling above us while they were nestled in their soft, warm beds. And they will understand that there is poverty and there is hunger and there is violence. And just as they will understand all of that, I hope they will understand what it means to love one another.

Leo Tolstoy wrote this passage in his story “What Men Live By”

And the Angel said:

“I have learned that every man lives, not through care of himself, but by love.”

“I have learned that God does not wish men to live each for himself, and therefore He has not revealed to them what they each need for themselves, but He wishes them to live in union, and therefore He has revealed to them what is necessary for each and for all together.  I have now learned that it is only in appearance that they are kept alive through care for themselves, but that in reality they are kept alive in love. He who dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him, for God is love.” 

What We Live By

Someday she’ll know.

She was upset with my refusal to allow her to partake in one of the samples being offered at the costco.  She swore up and down that she really, really liked spicy chick peas.  I, however, remained unconvinced. 

She stopped whining as we approached the gum sample.  It’s like magic, gum is.

Upon our return home, she was hot.  I helped her take her shirt off. 

And then she was cold.  To which I said “No Ella, you’re just upset.”

To which she said “I want to watch a show” in the whiniest voice known to humankind.  And “Where’s my cats?” (Also the whiney version which sounds super adorable with her stuffy little nose.)

For awhile she sat, covered in a fluffy blanket, watching her show while I unpacked the groceries. 

“Do you like this show Mommy?”

“Yo Crazy Crazy?”

“No, it’s not Yo Crazy Crazy, it’s Yo Gabba Gabba.”

“Oh.  Sorry.”

“Do you like this show Mommy?”

“No, I don’t like it too much.”

“No Mommy, Do. You. Like. It!”

“No Ella, not really.”


Okay.  I do.  I love Yo Crazy Crazy.”

“No!  It’s not Yo Crazy Crazy!”

“Oh.  Sorry.  I love Yo Gabba Gabba.”


Though the conversation occurs in this same form nearly every single time she watches that show, it always amuses me. 

She returns to her show, and I pause from the unpacking for a moment, captured by her little voice.  I look at her.  Her wilted pigtails dangle on bare shoulders, and she grips her cats tightly under her chin.  From somewhere, sunlight bounces off her eyelashes. 

She sniffles. 

Everything about her seems so delicate, so little.  So precious.

“Ella, I love you.”

“I love you too, Mommy.”

Someday she will know how my heart simply aches with love for her. 

Someday she will pause from her work to gaze upon her child, and she will feel it, and she will understand the depth of it. 

She will understand how, sometimes, love can feel like pain, and she will know how it feels to be overcome by it. 

Just the way I am overcome by her.

Someday she’ll know.