Thursday, September 6, 2012

This morning a man called Jasmine a f***ing idiot. He said it twice. "You f***ing idiot!" he said, flapping his arms above his head. "What the hell is wrong with you? You f***ing idiot."

She looked up at me with her big blue eyes as she pulled at the loose skin on her neck.

It was meant for me, but he had looked straight at her.

I was making a right hand turn through a crosswalk, just as he stepped off the curb to cross the street. I had seen him on the corner, but which direction he intended to cross was not clear. And with the morning sun in my eyes, and a steady stream of frantic traffic behind me, I went.

As soon as I saw him, I stopped mid-turn, and waving my hand, mouthed the words,"Oh, sorry." That's when he peered straight at my little girl and said what he said.

I think the most troubling part about it was that he didn't look like a crazy person. He was out for his morning jog, fifty-ish, greying, in an expensive sweatsuit and running shoes.

Maybe I made a bad call, maybe I was just flat out wrong, maybe I even deserved a ticket...

But Jasmine really didn't need that this morning...minding her own business, just hoping she gets a top locker.

"Jasmine, I am so sorry that happened," I said. What a way to start the day, huh?"

"Yeah, and on my second day of Jr. high too!" And then she scrunched up her face and tugged at her neck some more.

How do you explain to an eleven year old that some people are just assholes?

I'm trying to have grace for the guy, clearly he was afraid for his very life, but I'm also kinda hoping I see him again when Jazi isn't with me, so I can simply inform him of his errant ways.

We continued on down the road and listened to Cat Stevens sing out, "Oooh, baby,baby, it's a wild world..."

And then even more people were crazy mean out there, speeding around, cutting each other off, honking their if 911 never happened.

I remember for months after the planes crashed into the buildings that people seemed to be kinder to each other, at the post office, in the grocery store, even on the roads. I think it was enough for people just to see other people alive.

"It's a harsh world," I told Jaz. "People shouldn't speak to each other that way."

Jazi looked up at me and said, "Mama, you know what I do when something like that happens?"

"What sweetie?" I asked.

"I pray," she says to me. "I pray for myself, that I can forget about it and that I will feel better."

And then she put on her best, almost-twelve, brave face.

But I don't feel better. I hurt that this world can be so ugly.

Ya know those signs that they have in all the home stores lately? The ones that say things like, "Live, love, laugh" or "Be creative?" I kinda hate them. They feel bossy.

But after this morning...I think I might have to paint one up. I'll write something simple like, "Don't scream the F word at children."

And then I'll hang it up on that street corner.

...Sad day that a grown man has to be told this.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


When we said good bye to May-May in the corridor of her dorm, she had a belly ache, and a brush fire raged on the mountainside just above the school. She smirked and said, "So Mom, you're just gonna leave me here with a tummy ache in a disaster zone?"

My family finds great amusement in my hyper-vigilant fears.

She squeezed me tight and I watched her blonde ponytail bounce away...down the hall.

Jon and Summer and Jazi and I sat in the parking lot for half and hour and watched the dark plumes of smoke rise from the mountain. Jon searched his smart phone for news on the fire while I breathed in and breathed out.

I fiddled with the purple hospital band on my wrist that read New Student Orientation, a meager safety measure for the flood of people milling about the campus.

Eighteen years ago it had read Cottage Hospital-Hughes-Baby Girl. And my body had churned and cramped and opened and released.

And now as the smoke filled the sky, again my body churned and cramped. And again...I opened... and again...I released.

Even my body knew she was leaving.

Labor had surprised me by how it knew it's way, that the waves of contractions knew when to rise and when to fall, when to press in and when to relieve, as if my body was on auto-pilot and I was merely a passenger.  And that even at the moment of transition, as my mind failed me, my body fought onward, and all that pressure, all that pain...had such holy purpose.

For months I have found myself doubled over in pain, as we've packed up her room...threw out her toys. My heart has ached and my mind has gone mad as I have grieved the child she once was... oh, that funny smile and the curls on her little round head...

And again, I am surprised by holy purpose...the birth of this miraculous young woman... healthy and smart and lovely and strong and funny...oh goodness...she is so funny... and I know this world is a better place because she is in it.

So, where I have been bracing myself for what I thought would feel like death, where the pain seemed violent and pointless, there is now wonder and awe and celebration...and life.