I'm not sure exactly how to write this post, or if I should write this post.
Last week we got an unfathomable phone call from one of my brothers, telling us that our youngest nephew had died without any warning during a nap.
One of the very best parts of living where we do is that we are located exactly half way between my side of the family and Luke's side of the family. Because of our proximity (and genuine affection for our relatives) we get to spend lots of time visiting them or having them over here. And it turns out that Wren's closest friends and playmates are actually her cousins. To the extent that she unknowingly interchanges the term "cousin" and "friend" and despite our well-meaning explanations, she really doesn't seem to grasp the difference.
Like I said, I'm not sure exactly how to write this post, or if I should write this post. Should I describe our sweet nephew, that bundle of 6-month-old with chubby rolls and toothless smiles: his squeals and gurgles and raspberries? Do I find a way to write the aching grief that pervades our days, and how we try to come around our little sister, her husband, and their 3-year-old daughter? Maybe I could tell everyone that the little tribe of cousins- from toddlers up to pre-teens- each notice the loss and mourn; that the youngest ones seem quite confused by the rooms full of adults with blotchy red faces and seemingly endless tears. I could list all of the insightful, heartfelt questions they ask at the times you'd least expect it. Or maybe I should just use this space to philosophize about my own perspective on life, death, human suffering and despair?
To Bhain Campbell 1911-1940 (by John Berryman)
I told a lie once in a verse. I said
I said I said I said "The heart will mend,
Body will break and mend, the foam replace
For even the unconsolable his taken friend."
This is a lie. I had not been here then.
Sunday, February 23
Friday, February 21
Thursday, February 20
All that button talk yesterday reminded me of the adorable button bracelets my sister-in-law gifted to a bunch of people for Christmas a few years ago. I believe she came across the idea on Pinterest, though I cannot be sure. I followed suit with a few of those buttons that Wren loves best. Using 1/4" elastic that fits loosely around her wrist I connected the ends together with a quick whip stitch and then sewed buttons of all sorts around it. The inside (where you can see the threads looping all about) isn't pretty in any sense, but it sure looks sweet from the right side! Cute as a button (bracelet).
Wednesday, February 19
|Wren demonstrates her new fascination with buttons on the sewing room sill.|
|My little sister and her little guy. How sweet!|
I'm not giving up on the task completely, but I'm not gonna lie- there is much rejoicing when I can avoid it. And that's exactly what I did when I sewed this little sundress for Wren by re-purposing a women's button-down top from the thrift store.
I just took all of those beautiful, perfect, straight button holes and flipped them around from the front of the shirt to the back of this dress. It's a technique I've seen many others use when working with buttoned shirts, and I think it's a dream come true.
I used some pattern pieces from another old pattern (McCall's 3531) to get the sizing right. Then I added a lining to the bodice to give it a more finished look, though I had to fudge it a little bit around that glorious strip of buttons.
I'd originally planned to alter this shirt into a maternity top for myself, but I have to say that I'm totally happy to have forewent that plan in favor of a summer dress for the wee one. It's actually a size or so too big (I used clothes pins to gather at the back for these photos), so I think she'll get plenty of wear out of it.
And I suppose for the sake of my button-loathing little sister I won't be making a matching one for Wren's cousin.
Tuesday, February 18
This post was originally written for a monthly community writing project I do with a group of friends. The challenge for the month was to write about "Another World" that we each experience apart from the rest of the community. After sharing it with those friends, I thought I might also share it here with these (you) friends as well!With routine days spent in such proximity, my daughter and I live in a unique world where a toddler and an adult inhabit the same space. At times I’m overtaken by my connection to her- my firstborn. Even though our contact is constant and overwhelming, I still want her close. At night, when I wake scared (When despair for the world grows in me/and I wake in the night at the least sound/in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be –Wendell Berry), my first thought is to check on her in her bed, cuddle close, imbibe the rhythm of her nighttime breath, and whisper thanks over and over and over for the moments I’ve had with her. And I beg for more, for as many moments as we can have. Sometimes I imagine absorbing her back inside me so that my body might again be her safe place where she is closer to me, and a bit more removed from that ‘outside’ world I find so hard to trust.She dances around the house creating her own small worlds from blankets, discarded papers, stacked books and any old thing she imagines life into. She talks through her every thought and I have to guess nothing about her ideas, fears, hopes or intentions. I listen to her soliloquies and notice how she will weave in such little details of the day. When I listen, I can hear what she’s learned and how she absorbs it all through play:
Always learning, repeating, asking, refining, testing.
Exasperating and illogical as her toddler world may be, I feel privileged to spend my days in and out of its periphery. I can feel- it’s palpable- that in her world there is no pretense or hatred or dishonesty. In her transparent curiosity, she is light to me. She is love and hope and every good thing I long for in the adult world I generally inhabit. She and her 30 lb ilk are beyond precious. There is no word for it. Sometimes I just think that if every person in the world would look a toddler in the eyes and listen and hear – Oh, how could they do any of the ungodly things that we do? How could anyone do an ounce of evil to threaten all the shiny, hopeful, unblemished goodness of a tiny human who’s just piecing it all together?
There’s no war in those eyes. No rape. No industrial mayhem. No slavery. It’s a world of possibility. I teach her, of course. But it’s no cliché to say that perhaps she is the true teacher here.
And yet daily I find myself faced with the task of letting her go (because surely she belongs to no one, not even me), of walking near her, but not an obstacle to her growth, independence or strength. And worst (scariest, hardest?) of all, I must find some way to loose her into a world I do not trust with her. Obviously she’ll meet countless loving, wonderful, art-ful others who will feed her soul and buoy her. But what about that one or two or three who might mean her harm, or see her as a means to an end?
Oh world, let her live fully here. Let her be free in as many ways that there are. And let her shine through whatever darknesses lurk on her path. Help her know herself, trust herself, love herself deeply. Give her clarity and assurance. Let her and her peers teach us all, for we need to inhabit their curious world more than we’ll ever acknowledge.