The Most Precious Part of the Goodbyes

Tonight we said goodbye to a place that we hold dear, Bare Bulb Coffee.  I wasn’t sure if I could or would be able to be there as the lights were turned out for the last time, but as the time grew closer, I knew I couldn’t be anywhere else.

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Driving up to the shop one last time. Sunsets can be so beautiful…..

A few of us who have shared many cups of coffee and moments together in that space gathered tonight to play games, sit and talk, have coffee.  We ordered some pizza and hung out–making precious memories that I hope all of these people I love will carry with them for a long time.  There were friends there whom I was with last night, and there were friends whom I haven’t seen in far too long.

It was an unofficial Bare Bulb reunion of sorts, and it was good.

What I will remember most are the laughter and the stories.  And how folks whom we hadn’t known as long were brought around the table with open arms just like those we’ve known for years.  I’ll remember that strangers were invited to share in the pizza and the celebration and the light.  One more time.

I’ll remember the smiles on the faces and the gentle strumming of a guitar.  The children on the stage, playing games and eating pizza and coloring signs as tributes to this place where they grew up.  I’ll remember ordering my large decaf, no room for anything one. last. time.  The smell of the coffee.  The sound of the beans grinding.  The glittery tiles on the coffee table, the cool feel of the tile on the big table where the group gathered for one more round of Apples to Apples.

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The thing I’ve noticed is that when we are saying goodbye to someone we love, there is one thing that is always a part of those moments.

The stories.

And tonight was no different.  I heard all the stories being shared, and it made my heart glad.

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Tonight I’m most thankful for the ones who have gathered there over the years and those who gathered tonight.  Thank you for filling this sacred space with laughter and all the stories that we can hold close and use to fuel the flame given to us by this special place.  That we sent her out with laughter and fun and friends who have become family is a gift I will always be grateful for.

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…..and there was. For ALL.

May we honor what Bare Bulb Coffee was and what she taught us by letting our light shine–even in the darkest of times.  Together.

Love–and light–to all.

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From the first moment my feet stood in this place to the last time tonight, this place has always been a sanctuary for me. Holding me close and allowing me space and grace to do what my heart and soul needed to do. Thank you, friends, for sharing the journey.

 

Little Bits of Green

This afternoon between piano recital and our time at Evening Prayer, I took Miss Sophie for her afternoon constitutional.  We went a little further than we normally do, as there were a lot of children playing near our house, and Miss Sophie is, well, easily distracted from the task at hand.

In the quiet as she sniffed all the things, I took the time to look around and appreciate the fact that I wasn’t freezing standing there.  The blue of the sky was classically beautiful, and the sun shone brightly.  But it was when I looked down that I saw something that surprised me.

Georgia or not, it’s still winter here.  We’ve had a few days that have me crocheting warmer colors on my temperature blanket, but lately we’ve been back into the “my toes are cold and want to go home” kind of weather.  There are hardly any trees other than evergreens with leaves on them, my bulbs aren’t growing yet, and the grass is brown–and dead.

But as I stood there looking and thinking while Miss Sophie did her dog thing, I noticed that the grass wasn’t all brown.

I saw bits–if ever so few and tiny–of green.

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Wow.

It really surprised me.  I stood there, chiding myself, Well, what did you think, Tara?  That the brown grass just one day, blade by blade, would turn green and spring would officially be here?

I suppose not, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid that much attention to the process.  It’s just been brown and dead and then one day, the grass is green, it’s warm, and my flip flops are back where they belong.

On my feet.

But today I realized something.  In the midst of that brown and dying grass, well below what the eye can detect, there is life.  The green is there.  Waiting.  Even when we don’t see it.  Waiting for the right situation, and the right season.

And then I heard my Mama: Ecclesiastes 3.  (her favorite)  To everything there is a season.

The new life is there.  And one day, when the time and season is right, it will choke out all of that death, and all around us there will be rebirth and life and growth.

One day…..

what has been in the works all along will be apparent and shine through the brown grass and darkness.

Wishing you all a glimpse of green grass today and everyday.

Love to all.

Looking for Hagrid’s Hut and Driving After Dark

Today was magic.

It was stepping back in time and yet going forward.

Stepping back to when I was a student at my alma mater and forward to when my own little Golden Heart will officially begin her journey there.  She can tell you in a split second she’ll start there in seven years.  Seven…..seems so far away, but I know the number lies, and it really isn’t.

Today was the annual event where our daughters get to experience a small taste of what we  alumnae did when we were there.  This was our Princess’ third year going to this event.  Never mind the other times she’s been on campus–she is getting comfortable there, and I wonder if maybe it’s starting to feel a little bit like home for her too.

As we took a few minutes to wander over to a bench in the warm sun, she looked around and said, “This is a good day.  I am really learning my way around here better and better.  I didn’t used to know the names of the buildings, but now I know where to find all of them, I think.”  She paused, as we continued walking.  “I just can’t figure out why we haven’t come across Hagrid’s Hut yet.”

Ummmm…..what?

But that’s just who she is.  She is bright and chatty and enchanted with life.  She loves to read and read some more and play outside, and she lives in a world where fairies do exist even though we don’t see them and where her letter to Hogwart’s must have been bumbled by a faulty owl and well, apparently where Wesleyan is really Hogwart’s and we just haven’t wandered far enough out to find the hut.  And Buckbeak too, I’d wager.

Tonight as we were driving home really late in the dark, she looked around, amazed.  Amazed at the number of people who were at the grocery store after 11 p.m.  and at how many were in line at the fast food places.  “But it’s so late!” she kept exclaiming.  (Yes, we are those people–very rarely out that late at night.)

I get it.  Being out late at night like that makes me feel quite small.  There are all these people living their lives that I know nothing about, and I wouldn’t even realize they were out there if I were home in my bed as I usually would be.  Small.  Yes.  It also is amazing to see all of the places that are closed, locked up tight, that we never would think about sitting empty if we weren’t out late on a Saturday night after a very big day at a very special place.

Tonight I’m thankful for a day spent with my girl, this one who sees the world in a very different way.  I love that she shares that with me, and that I am one of the recipients of her love and sweet spirit.  I’m also the recipient of some of the not so sweet stuff, but that’s a story for another night.  She is, after all, 11, and as someone I love very dearly pointed out, our girl probably doesn’t know why she’s feeling all the feels at any given time herself.  It’s just part of being 11.

Wishing you all someone who lets you accompany them on magical journeys and helps you to see the world through their precious eyes every now and then.

Love to all.

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Hagrid’s Hut  “The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012 (7387697298)” by Karen Roe from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK – The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012Uploaded by SunOfErat. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Little Brothers and Big Surprises

When I was in the third grade, I learned to crochet.  I sat on the playground at recess with my third grade teacher, Mrs. Turner, whose gentle ways and lovely voice (especially when reading Charlotte’s Web aloud) were like a balm to my soul.  I don’t remember how the lessons came about, but at some point I had a crochet hook and some yarn, and she was teaching me how to chain, single crochet, double crochet, and Granny square.  I remember Daddy punching holes in a butter dish, and I crocheted a purse out of it.  That was one of the first things I ever made.

My biggest project I never finished was begun sitting on the catwalk next to Mrs. Turner’s chair.  My Mama was expecting a baby in the fall, and I was making the baby a blanket.  Back in the days before most folks found out what they were having, they made this–ummmm–lovely yarn, a pink, white, and blue blend.  A kind of “cover all your bases,” multi-purpose yarn.

I worked on row after row and somewhere along the way, I lost the energy, resources, drive, I am not really sure what exactly, to continue.  All I know is by the time my baby brother was born, I had a nice blanket for my stuffed animals that sometimes, over the years, doubled as a scarf when we played dress up.

Poor Bubba.

Last week he called me to let me know he’d mailed me a package.  He cautioned me to be careful when I cut the box top open…..it was just a few things, like piano books, and something he thought might belong here that had made it home with them after their latest visit.

We talked again on Monday, and again he mentioned the box.  Which was on my doorstep by the time we got off the phone.

I was curious, as I started to open the box that seemed to be bigger than just a few piano books and a miscellaneous something…..

and then there it was.

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My new rescued afghan.  Bubba talks about a place they love to go up there where he lives–the Gift and Thrift.  All the treasures they find there that he tells me about, I get a little jealous, I don’t mind telling you.  He had mentioned a while back about seeing some afghans there on occasion.  When he and his family were visiting right after Christmas, he encouraged me in my goal to make my own Granny square creation.  He’s called a couple of times to get my count…..of how many squares I’ve made so far.

But on one recent special day, he found himself in the Gift and Thrift and there was this afghan, and he thought of me so he got it.

But wait, there’s more.  In a ziploc bag in the box, there was a stack of Granny squares, just waiting to be joined together and made into something magical.

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Wow.

My mind boggled at the color possibilities–and what to create?

As I set the squares aside and looked at the afghan once more and a little more closely, I saw what a treasure it really is.

Twice in the rows on this creation, I spied with my little eyes, the baby blanket pink, white, and blue yarn…..the same yarn I’d started his baby blanket with a little under 39 years ago.

Well if that don’t beat all.

My heart is full.  To be known, understood, and thought of–that is love.  To have him be so excited about sending it and surprising me…..that was the icing on the cake.

Tonight I’m thankful for my Bubba, the little boy who changed my world all those years ago and continues to do so today, and for his wife who pays attention to things like what kind of piano books my littles use and picked out some especially to encourage them in their playing.

And the top piece of the Playmobil circus tent is back, and I never even knew it was missing.

My heart is full to bustin’.  I’ll leave it with y’all tonight.  Off to wrap up in a blanket filled with love and memories and dream about what to make with those squares.  Suggestions welcome.

Love to all.

 

Confession of a Tired Mama

As a parent, I have my good days and my bad days.

And good moments and bad moments.

This one is about a little bit of both.

This morning Cooter woke up, as he is prone to do on weekday mornings, earlier than I would have liked for him to.  This is one of the perks of homeschooling.  We do not have to, and so we do not, start our days at oh dark thirty.

I heard him coming.  He’s not the quietest mouse in the house.  It was one of those split second parenting decisions that you can reflect upon later and and second guess or guilt yourself or wish you’d done it differently.  But in that moment–

you just react.

I reacted.

And closed my eyes.

I just wasn’t ready yet, y’all.

So when I heard him come in the room pretty much like the proverbial bull in that China shop, I remained still, as though I were still sleeping soundly.  He paused for a second when he came over to my side of the bed and saw me sleeping.  Then he got quiet and crept the rest of the way until I could feel his breath on my cheek.

“Awww, Mama’s so cute,” he whispered with the sweetest tone.  Then as my heart was about to bust with all the feels, he leaned over and tried to tickle my armpit, which he knows doesn’t work, and he left the room fairly quietly–at least for him.

Oh bless.

I opened my eyes and listened for clues as to what he was doing.

Ah.  Legos.  He was working on his birthday Lego set, the biggest one he’s ever done by himself to date.  He’s been diligent and methodical, and it’s been really cool to watch him as he works it out.

And so this morning when I exhibited parenting skills that could be labelled as “less than stellar,”  two things happened.  Two things that needed to happen, I believe.

First, I heard Cooter’s thoughts about me.  It’s funny how often I peek in on him sleeping and have that exact same thought–he’s so cute, adorable, precious.  For him to think that about me and for me to hear that, it blesses my heart and gives me all the warm fuzzies.  As we spend many of our days with me hounding him to get certain tasks done and him teasing me about being the “mean Mama,” this–that he sees someone other than a frazzled, worn out Mama–is a treasure.

Second, he went and occupied himself with a worthwhile task.  Without being told to.  He didn’t stay there and pick and poke and prod until I “woke up.”  He didn’t go and bother his sister until she got out of bed, hollering at him usually.  He didn’t scrape the stool across the kitchen floor to get his cereal or complain loudly about whatever was bothering him at the moment.  He sat and entertained himself and thoroughly enjoyed working a little more on his Lego set.  I’m really proud of him for that.

Tonight I’m thankful that tomorrow I get another chance to do better.  As a Mama and as a person.  Those new mercies every morning are everything–the real reason I’m able to get up in the morning, because I’ve shed the weight of all the missteps and misspoken words from the day before.  That grace is what helps me rise from slumber in the mornings.

But not too early.  This Mama is a night owl who needs those baby birds to sleep in just a little while longer.

Wishing you all the beauty of new mercies…..and for you to find out someone you care about thinks you are cute.

Love to all.

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seeking solace without reservation

there are days when the world seems
to be rushing toward that handbasket,
clamoring for a spot to climb in and go

it is on those days that I feel myself
swept up in the mad dash towards a place
I’d rather not be

but I can’t stop it,
all the throngs of people
pushing, shoving, shouting
and then

my friend reaches out her hand
across the crowd of people

“let’s leave this chaos
and all of this madness
and sheer meanness, let’s just go,
here, take my hand”

and so I do

and she smiles

“I’ve got you”

and she does

and together we find a place
away from the mayhem,
where we can breathe
and the flowers grow up to our elbows

we dance and spin around, falling to the ground,
cushioned by the pinks and reds and purples and yellows,
dizzy with relief

to have found another
in the splendor
away from the shadows and shouting

another who feels
and cries
and laughs over stories
about strangers on doorsteps
and children who are growing up

and finally,
I can rest
and then together we turn to let go
of what has been

and we hold tight to the light we were given
and each other
and, elbowing flowers gently as we make our way,
we go and find others
who
are being
swept up
in all the madness

and walk them home

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Sunset and spring wildflowers — on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, near Peridot, in Gila County, Arizona. By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA (Arizona Sunset Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The One About Vocabulary and Book Burning

Some days our homeschooling goes beautifully.  We are on our game, learning all the things, and we stay focused, on track, and we get through everything that we need to do in a timely manner.  Then we are able to move on to other things that we really enjoy.  Or nap.  Naps are good too.

Today was NOT one of those days.

But it was still beautiful.

Which is one of the main reasons I love homeschooling.  It can be a success without being  a neat and tidy notebooked, paperclipped, stapled, workbook process.  It can be messy and chaotic and loud and scattered and done in fits and starts and still be really good.

Like today.

This morning Cooter started off building with his Legos in his room.  I know this because I could hear the sound of Legos being pushed and stacked and moved around.  That is NOT what reviewing your times tables sounds like.  When we finally sat down together he had his Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary that he got for his birthday on his lap.  As I wrapped up what I was working on, he asked me questions–vocabulary questions–what does “reprisal” mean?  What does “trumps” mean?  I think we went through ten words before I realized that we were indeed “schooling,” only I didn’t tell him.  Sometimes it’s best to let the learning just happen without calling it that.

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Who am I kidding?  With this one, it’s best to do that as much of the time as possible.

This afternoon I left them working on their writing, and I went to attack Mt. Washmore waiting for me on the couch.  I was folding clothes when I heard Cooter call my name.  I turned around to see him standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Well, I have a funeral to go to now.”

Because I know this child well, I didn’t clench or panic as I might have if it were any of my other children.

“Yeah?  Why is that?  Whose funeral?”

(WARNING: SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS!)

 

 

 

 

“Sirius.  Sirius Black.”  He paused.  I took in the too bright eyes and the smile that seemed plastered on.  Oh my heart.  “He was my favorite character.”

I rushed over to him.  Yes, he’s nine now.  Yes, he’s rough and tumble and getting too old to hold my hand in parking lots much anymore, but I RUSHED OVER and grabbed hold of him and held him tight.

And he let me.

“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry.  I know.  I know.  It’s hard.  I’m so sorry.”

We’ve been learning a lot about grief over the past four plus years.  When my Daddy died, Cooter wouldn’t have much to do with Mama for a few weeks, and she was so afraid he was mad at her or blamed her.  He didn’t.  He just turned inwards.  He did the same thing when Mama passed.  Our Princess cried her heart out, tears for days, but Cooter just turned inward and was very stoic.

But today, today my little guy looked up at me and said, after I told him it was okay to cry, even if he needed to go to his room and be by himself to do it,  “I’m going to burn this book.  That’s what I’m going to do.  I’ll finish these last few pages, but then I’m going to burn it.”  He choked back the other unsaid things I heard in his voice and walked off.

This evening as he was reading the last of it in the car, he mentioned again his desire to burn the book when he was done.  His sister, who was delighted to find her very own copy at the used bookstore (a copy of her own that wasn’t her big sister’s), begged him not to.  “Do you know how hard it was to find that book?”  Finally, we agreed that might not be the thing to do, and we talked about Sirius and how he had gone just on the other side of the veil.  Just like Maemae and Cap had.  They are still with us, right there, just on the other side.  He nodded.

But still.

I remember when I read that chapter of the book.  I had so hoped Harry’s summer woes were over.  That he was going to finally have a good place, a good person who loved him, to spend his summers with and not the Dursleys.  But instead, life dealt him and all of them another terrible blow, and his life was upended yet again.

Much like real life.  Just when we think things might settle and be okay…..topsy turvy it goes, and we have to learn how to live with the new normal.

And so it would seem that on this day that no math was done (tomorrow will be really fun, y’all) and writing wasn’t finished, and we didn’t discuss the Bill of Rights as planned, that learning happened.  Important and good and hard learning.

And that right there.  That’s why I love homeschooling.  From vocabulary inspired by Star Wars to holding my baby through his book burning thoughts to sharing our thoughts on life and death and grief together, I love it.

It’s not my favorite everyday, and tomorrow I might need to be reminded how much I love it, but right now, I wouldn’t trade it for all the free time in the world.

Love to all.