Cheering along mile 17, 2012
Monday, a million people are expected to line the 26.2 marathon route in support of over 9,000 runners.
We don’t need to rehash last year — so many beautiful words have been written about the strength and determination of Boston. I’m proud of my city.
Yet one thing that hasn’t been written about is the biggest lesson I learned a year ago.
After 4 hours at mile 17 along the marathon route, my young daughters and I headed home. It was around 3:00 that my phone started uncontrollably buzzing with new texts reading “Are you ok?”, “I heard what happened. So sad.” and “Text me that your family is safe”.
I quickly went online and discovered the devastating news. Heartbroken and teary-eyed, I felt a strong need to get out of the house and away from it all. So numb and disoriented, I dragged the kids to the most random place you go when tragedy strikes — Supercuts.
I called in advance and confirmed that they had no TV or radios. I needed to guard my 5 and 8 year olds as much as I needed to guard myself from the news. Yet what I forgot was that people would be talking. There was no way I could shelter my girls from the buzz that surrounded us.
In the car afterwards, they were full of questions. “Mommy, what happened?”, “Was anyone hurt?”, “Did anyone die?” and “Did they catch the bad guy?”
I quickly responded with three big lies: “Nobody was hurt, nobody died and they caught the bad guys”. My Mother Bear instincts wanted — needed — to protect the innocence of these young minds and hearts.
I thought I was in the clear. It was school vacation week so no concern of the kids hearing things from their classmates. In their little minds, all was well with the world. Happiness and peace prevailed.
Until four days letter when the phone rang at 5:45am. It was my dear friend, B., who wanted me to know that the bad guy was on the loose and our town was on lockdown. “Stay safe” she said.
Now I had to come clean and explain why, on this bright and beautiful spring day, we had to stay inside. Windows closed. On alert.
I started with “Girls, I lied…” and ended with “I promise to never lie to you again.” And this saddens me to no end — to know that I can’t keep them in a magical world full of unicorns and rainbows.
And that this new world is one that changes you. No lie.
Because that is one lesson I learned on Marathon Monday.
My girls love this photo of me at age 8. They even more so love the story about how I insisted on wearing my ’80s tennis attire to my 8th birthday party.
Yet what I remember about this photo is that my 8th birthday was spent without my parents by my side. Each summer, my Mom would fly us from California to Indiana where we’d stay for 2-3 weeks at my paternal grandparents house. This party pictured was celebrated with all of the neighborhood kids and hosted by my grandparents. It was a blast — kick the can, slip ‘n slide, tag, grocery store cake and yummy heavenly hash ice cream…all of the classics from our childhood summers.
But I see this picture now and admit that it surprises me that my parents scheduled our vacation (or shall we say, THEIR vacation sans kids) to conflict my 8th birthday! Um, hello? Center of your Universe is turning 8? Don’t you want to be in the pictures?
And I started to think of all the things parents in the ’70s and ’80s didn’t bat an eyelash at:
- Sending their kids into the neighborhood for hours unseen. It takes minutes before I start shrieking that a child is out of my eyesight.
- Long car rides with un-etertained kids. We used to drive six hours to my grandmother’s house 4-5 times a year. WITHOUT AN IPAD! Entertainment on a car drive back in the ’80s? Yeah, that would be wrestling your brother for the middle seat rest.
- Serving liver for dinner. Ok, maybe this was just at my house, but once a month that odorous smell of a cow’s liver would fill the house. And we’d have to eat it.
Now that you are an adult — what are some things that shock you from your childhood?
Hard to believe it was a year ago today that the Boston Marathon was interrupted with the incomprehensible bombings. I was, and still am, 3,000 miles away from it all. But, it felt like it was the next town over.
Given my distance, I am hardly qualified to wax philosophical about it. However, I feel compelled to at least mention it and let all of our dear friends and family in Boston know you have never been far from my thoughts in this last year.
May you always be Boston Strong.
It seems that we are the only ones who have weekends free of baseball games, soccer practices and karate tournaments. No young sports fanatics in our house!
Instead, these girly little hearts are drawn toward all things crafty. I call them my “little creators” as clay figures, paper games, and sock puppets pop up all over the house.
Which is why I signed up the three of us for a 2.5 hour class to learn different techniques for decorating eggs. In the back of my head, I thought there was absolutely no way that my 6 year old would last for 2.5 hours. But I underestimated my little creators. They were heads down, serious and handled each egg with such delicacy.
I loved watching their focus and intent to bring life to these fragile white eggshells. While the end results wouldn’t be worthy of anything beyond our Easter basket, it was the pride in their faces that was priceless.
A favorite photo of my Grandmother — don’t you wish the old bathing suits were still in style?
My Grandmother had dementia for the last five years of her life. It’s a painful disease to face — especially for those of us who loved her and saw her slowly drifting to an unknown place.
Towards the end of her life, she wasn’t aware much of her surroundings. The day of the week, her city, her name — it was all lost. Which is why it was a surprise that days before she passed away, she said to my Mother:
“I don’t remember who you are, but I know you are someone I love.”
Isn’t it beautiful that her heart still recognized that she loved and was loved? Even though my grandmother’s mind could not register the daughter that held her hand in that moment — her heart could still feel the power of that love.
A reminder that the heart navigates us towards love.
It’s Monday, again. Hope yours is off to a great start.
A few miscellaneous odds and ends to start the week.
- Lip Primer: I love the look of a bold lip and little other make-up, but I really don’t like how darker colors “bleed” into the fine lines around my lips. I thought I had tried all the options, none of which really worked, until I found this lip primer that really works.
- Working from Home: I found this blog post last week and sent it around to a couple of friends who also work from home – it is the story of a writer and radio guest who was on-air when his boys had an epic fight. I was crying between the laughter and total empathy.
- Tomatoes in my Tulips: I took a little heat from the boys in my house over this “weird”experiment, but I am rather fond of it. The tulips I bought on Sunday were a little too short and the cherry tomatoes were a little sour. So, I put them together:
I was headed to bed just now, and then I remembered I never wrote the post for this (Thursday) morning. I had a good (?) one all ready to be written, detailing the strange dynamic of boys and girls in 4th grade and “flirting” that was actually bullying. Last week was rough on that front – my son the object of affection and the object of the bullying, and the mama bear in me came out.
However, that post never got written on account of a crazy work day, a crazy carpooling-to-activities afternoon, and a crazy emotional night. My son – who is very sensitive, extremely driven, and very hard on himself – was distraught over forgetting his homework at school and striking out at baseball practice again. His tears are almost unbearable to see, and his sobs are heartbreaking to hear, and there is nothing I can do or say to make him feel better.
This parenting business is tough!
A sea of courage and bravery is captured in this photo.
Boston lost two firefighters last week. The photo above was captured at Lt. Edward Walsh Jr.’s wake. Firefighters from all over came to his hometown of Watertown, MA to pay their respect. This is the same Watertown that was on lockdown almost a year ago while police and FBI searched homes and cars for the Marathon Bomber.
I was stuck in traffic this morning amongst all of the fireman who were attending Lt. Walsh’s funeral. The men and women in packed cars wearing their crisp navy uniforms, with the chalk blue license plates — all en route to mourn a brother. I got chills just be surrounded by such bravery.
And these men and women are the most brave in my book. Lt. Walsh actually asked to be the one who heads into the fire first. He chose to be first in line. He went to the basement of the fire after hearing there may be occupants trapped. That is Bravery.
We’ve had the firemen over at our house more than a few times. I smelled gas once; little one accidentally locked herself in a room; there was a live wire post-storm by our house. These men have filled my homes with their muscles, courage and stoic nature. In their eyes, they were just doing their job. In my eyes, they were saving my family.
So to all of the men and women who protect and serve our towns — a heartfelt thank you.
I know I spend lots of time talking about “just saying no” to the the many requests of my time, but I am really not good at it. Despite knowing how I get stressed when I take on too much, bitter when the “little” volunteer project takes over my life, and frustrated I am with unsatisfying and unnecessary “work”, I have a hard time saying “no”. And, I know many of us do.
I just read this great article on Huffington Post about “What Essentialists Do Differently.” Essentialists are selective about what they do, choosing only to invest their time in the essential things that really matter to them. This is in contrast to non-essentialists, who take on too much and say “yes” without thinking. Here are six reasons the article suggests we should consider forgoing our “non-essentialist” selves:
- Essentialists explore.
- They don’t have to, they choose to.
- They say no, gracefully.
- They know they can’t please everyone all the time.
- The embrace the self-examined life.
- They know the power of pausing for reflection.
Ahhh…. sounds so liberating and lovely. I need to work on this, for certain. In particular, #2, #3 and #6 seem really important to me right now.
What do you think?
Photo taken in Stowe, where the little one skied all day and was rewarded with toasted s’mores in the snow
Spring is hopefully around the corner, and oh — I can’t wait for tulips, bare legs and Sunday bike rides! I’m happy to kiss winter goodbye — but truth be told, am going to be sad to say goodbye to my 6-year old’s adorable leggings.
I find myself holding onto some of the girl’s clothing because they represent a snapshot in time of who they were at this age. The fleece pajama onesies that snuggled up for stories every night in the winter (age 5); the navy and pink floral sundress that disguised every ice cream dripping (age 4); the blue cord skirt that flared with each twirl (age 3); the peach knit dress with matching ruffled underwear that jiggled with every new step (age 1). By the time they are 18, I should have an entire storage bin of these treasured items — who needs a scrap book!?!
Do you find yourself collecting clothes, art or other items to remember this special moment in time?