Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wherever you go, whatever you do

Today, I connected with all three of my college-student children. It started this morning with my son, Trevor, who is a junior, who had sent me a link yesterday to a radio interview he was assigned to listen to in class. That was followed by my son, Tony, who is a freshman, needing help with getting Office loaded on his laptop. This afternoon, it was my daughter, Rene, reflecting on her day and her realization that she is an upperclassman, and how hard it is to believe she is in her third year of college.

The radio interview Trevor sent me was an hour long. I have to say that my first instinct was to listen to a bit and let it go. I have a hard time listening or watching anything that is longer than a minute or so. To see the line of the podcast telling me I had nearly 60 minutes ahead of me was daunting. When he sent it to me yesterday, I listened to about three minutes of it and determined that it was important for me to listen in its entirety and I decided I would listen during my commute. I listened to the first 30 minutes in the morning and anxiously plugged in my phone to finish the rest on the drive home.

As I listened to the interview, which discussed the poetry of Islamic poet, Rumi, I was captivated at the connection I felt to the content and the new recognition of the world around me.

"Wherever you go, Whatever you do, Be in love." - Rumi

Love. I have endless love for all five of my children. In spite of my own shortcomings, they have become truly unique and independent, thoughtful adults. They amaze me with their achievements, and entertain me with their youth. Rumi's poetry is about play, love, our physical selves, and God. Thinking about my children and my life through the lens of love and of wonder, I began to think about what had just happened to me.

What happened as I listened is that I learned something. This, in itself, transported me back in time to my own college days, sitting in classrooms on that first day each semester and thinking to myself "ahhh, now I can feel smart again." Why? because I knew that in that room, I would learn.

I hear from my kids and from others new to college about how difficult the loneliness is and how surprising the loss of connection is. I never experienced that because I was in my 30s and had two children already when I started college for real. My recollection of college is of the tremendous thrill of the pursuit of thought. The opportunities for discussions with others who were on the same journey as me. The late nights, after putting the children to bed, writing those last minute papers, cramming for those mid-terms, and finally deciding there is nothing more to give.

I listened.

I thought about how much I miss those times when I felt intelligent just because I was standing on a college campus and walking into a room. When I felt validated because a professor pulled me aside to tell me he always put my compositions on the bottom of the stack so that he could grade it last and be renewed with hope after the multitude of disappointing others.

Because of the content of the interview, I also felt one of the strongest connections with God that I have felt in my life, and I was reminded of a nagging call that I have not answered.

All of this is to say I fell in love today. In love with my life. In love with my physical self. In love with the world around me. In love with my children, all over again.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My Bevie

Her life was full of adventure and short on hesitation. She barreled through events and decisions with a speed that seemed impetuous to outsiders. In reality, she cared. She cared deeply. She was the most loyal of all of us, the most often hurt, and the first one to forgive the offender.

She was married five times to four men, having found her true soulmate the second time around and finding him again the fifth. They would spend the best part of their lives together. Doing the things they enjoyed - bicycling, riding motorcycles, existing in the middle of nowhere with nobody bothering them. She loved photography and snapped some of the best shots of my babies as they grew up.

In our youth, she was the focus of my first memory in life at the age of 2, when she who was 8 at the time was struck by a car while riding her bicycle. The woman said she was distracted by the cute blonde girl in ponytails (me) and hadn't seen my sister. At 2, my first memory is of my sister lying on the couch and a toddler's understanding that I had killed my sister. 

When I was about 4 or 5, we had been to rummage sales with my mother and I had seen a pair of shiny, black boots I just had to have. My mom wouldn't buy them for me. They barely fit and she knew I would grow out of them too soon to warrant bringing home. Later that day, my sister became a part of my first memory of being so happy I cried when she came home from being out riding her bike, or so I thought, with a pair of shiny, black boots she had bought with the only money she had. My mom was right - I wore those boots once or twice. They were tight and sweaty, but I kept my "gogo boots" for a long time and my sister was forever my angel.

So many memories of the kind of person my sister was. Which makes it even harder to lose her to cirrhosis at the age of 56.

You see, choices made can either build us up, break us down, or give us a new strength. For her, there were a combination of choices she made, a chance accident, and a habit of keeping personal issues to herself that gave hold to the disease that would kill her. 

I take a lot of comfort in knowing that she was right with God when she died. During a recent visit, she talked a lot about how she could feel Jesus inside her heart and that she had regular talks with God, who had given her peace with the reality of what was happening to her. 

My sweet Bevie is gone. Lover of horses, beaches, Donny Osmond, Elvis Presley, and love. My best friend, my most loyal protector, my biggest cheerleader.

Heaven rejoices as she reunites with my dad and so many others, and meets our little brother for the first time.