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Friday, December 5, 2014

Mothering Spirits

Dear Mom,

Wow -- hard to believe it's been a month since my last entry. I'm going to take that as a healthy sign. Obviously, I still miss you so much and constantly find myself wanting to tell you things.

But it's also a big relief to be on "the other side" of this grief journey. I remember really vividly in March being at work and going downstairs to get get a cup of coffee from my trusty Pret. Suddenly, I realized it had been three months since you died, and that the worst was over. It was like getting some sort of heavenly reassurance.

Little did I know that there would still be some bumps to come in the summer. Dad's stroke and the changes that led me to resign at work were still months away. The second half of this year ended up being far more of an emotional roller coaster ride than I could have imagined.

Anticipating Christmas without you is pretty heavy stuff, so I'm just focusing on the good stuff. Mostly that it's a HUGE blessing I've been able to take time off from work and be really deliberate about what I want out of life. I could, of course, write much more about that. But let's minimize the navel-gazing today and focus on the fun stuff...

First off -- Miss Frances came back for her THIRD trip to NYC this year! I could not resist giving her this arrival present...
I got it at the shops set up in Bryant Park one day when I went to the library to write and use their printers.

Frances stayed at the Leo House in Chelsea, which is run by the Catholic Church. It's very reasonable and in an awesome location. We brunched at Cookshop.
She was here for more than a week, so we had a few little outings together. Sunday she joined me for church and introduced me to the West End Grill on 8th Avenue. Funny enough, they once got a reservation meant for the establishment in the big Q.
One night, I cooked supper and invited Neil over to meet her. Our last outing was brunch at the Meatball Shop, and then she treated me to this:

It was a wonderful show and something I'd never have discovered on my own. That's the lovely thing about having visitors in town...they really do get me out and about.

Speaking of...I just realized there is a new section of the High Line to explore. Somehow I'd missed the fact that a whole new leg opened up. I think it was in September. It's quite lengthy and made me think of you. That time we got photo bombed by Kurt on the High Line will forever be one of  my favorite NYC moments with you.
Leigh Ann and I have continued to scatter your ashes in places that either were or would have been meaningful to you. I'd wanted to do some in Central Park and intended to do it with Frances. But the day she and I met for the matinee, it was too darn cold. It just didn't seem right.

A few days later, we had a surprisingly warm Monday, and it was as if you whispered to me: this is it. Doing it on my own actually felt quite healing and peaceful. I will always be sad you didn't get your bucket list fall trip to the Big Apple -- the trip we'd booked and were planning towards when your leg started giving you so much trouble.

So, it seemed poignant to scatter some of your ashes in the city during the fall. There were still lovely golden leaves on the trees here and there.
I toyed with a few spots that seemed meaningful but finally selected the Shakespeare Garden, as it felt the most peaceful and secluded...and had a sort of literary poignancy that seemed perfect for you.

When I got there and unzipped my cargo from my backpack, I felt a bit self-conscious that I was going to get in trouble...or that people would wonder what I was doing with my plastic bag of mysterious grey matter.

At first, I was sorry these people were around...
But then I thought again and realized their presence was seemed to be a grandmother knitting, as her granddaughter jabbered on about this and that. A beautiful, unexpected moment of motherly care that seemed like the ideal blessing for my impromptu ceremony. Life goes on. There is mothering and daughtering, growing and knitting, learning and teaching all around us.
I'm not sure if you ever went into this little spot, but it would have been something you would have loved. And it's not far from the Delacorte Theater, where you queued up for Shakespeare in the Park tickets the summer Leigh Ann interned in New York during business school.

The garden is decorated with quotes...
But this is the one I will always love most:
"This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath, may provide a beauteous flower when next we meet."

I gave you a healthy sprinkle on that spot and will look forward to visiting you there this spring.

After I wiped my tears, I walked over to the castle and looked out over the park.
I knew I'd picked the right time for that little ceremony for a couple of reasons. For one, it was Thanksgiving week. Two, I'd joined my church the day before! It's definitely a "different" sort of Methodist congregation, but I absolutely love it and feel it's the right place for me.

I've attended off and on the whole time I've lived here and finally decided I needed to plant some roots. In addition to joining, I've been volunteering at the food pantry on Tuesdays.
I'm sad you won't ever be able to be there with me, so it was really special to have Frances visit and experience it with me. It's sweet to sit down each week and see the same two song books in the pews at Centenary -- the red Methodist hymnal and The Faith We Sing contemporary supplement.

Thanksgiving Day, I rode the train from Penn Station to East Hampton and joined Neil and Nate for an absolutely fantastic meal with Neil's family from Winter Park and Memphis. They all made me feel so welcome and included.

Funny enough, this year marks ten years since I first met Neil's mom and his Aunt Jackie. We all traveled through Peru together in 2004 when Jackie was principal of an American school there.

On Friday, we bundled up and did a driving and walking tour of the beautiful homes, with a quick step down on a few of the boys' favorite beaches.

I headed back on Friday, but the gang reported my Lasso Lasagna was a big hit for Saturday night's dinner. I purchased a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's second memoir for a few bucks at the secondhand shop in East Hampton, and it was the perfect entertainment for my train ride home.

I've been spending a lot of time by myself, and it's been absolutely delightful. I'm mostly just reading, writing, running errands, and catching up on my DVR.

That included a Homeland marathon, which was just AWESOME because (a) I love the plot this season (b) I have a huge crush on Peter Quinn.

My real life affinity for International Men of Mystery is well documented, but hopefully this little screen obsession is harmless. What's not to like about a smart, sexy man who can shoot your way to safety?! It's sort of a fascinating twist on my liberal feminist leanings.
But seriously -- Peter Quinn is a million times better than Brody.

I wish you were here to discuss!

(Incidentally, remember all those hours we spent watching Damian Lewis in The Forsythe Saga? I wonder who besides us has ever seen that whole thing. Maybe my friend Jennie, as I'm pretty sure she's the one who put the book on my radar.)

Okay, time to get some "real work" done! I need to check off my chores, as there is something special brewing next week. And...the rest of December is going to be full of adventures I am pretty sure you would agree are the "A answer" as Leigh Ann and I navigate our first holiday season without you.

Just to be a little cheesy -- but that's what I always do here at the end -- I can't help feeling deep gratitude for the time with Frances, Jackie and Mary I've shared in this post. One of the greatest gifts you gave me was an appreciation of and affinity for cultivating friendships with women of all ages. It's awesome to know mothering spirits are always around us, if we just open up and let ourselves experience their presence, with love and thanksgiving.



1 comment:

Dee Stephens said...

I've been thinking a lot about your in recent weeks with the holiday season. If you make it to Charlotte, let me know!
Also, text me. I lost your number when I got a new phone!