Thursday, June 21, 2018


Grief hasn’t come to me in the traditional albeit earth shattering ways that it has to others. No one died. But I feel it just the same. Tonight, years and years passed a deafness diagnosis and much understanding and acceptance, I felt it again as I clutched a sobbing five year old. Shaking, in the fetal position on his bed, he cried.
Twenty minutes ago, my son was asking me questions but his reactions to my responses clued me in that he wasn’t hearing me. My eyes and hands reached for the processor on his head that helps him to hear and it wasn’t there. I signed to him that he needed to show me where he last saw it and he took me outside and we found it. The hearing device itself was fine, but the dog had done a number to the headpiece, a magnet that connects to another one implanted in his head three years ago. Without that magnet, that four hundred and fifty dollar piece of equipment, my son is profoundly deaf.
Am I mad or am I sad? Oh, it’s for sure both.
But right now? This moment? It’s grief.
I told him that his dog had chewed it up and that because of this, he wouldn’t be able to hear in the water anymore. His understanding is on point in this area. He knows the cost both literally and figuratively. Monetarily speaking, we are out a lot of money. But the other cost is that it’s the beginning of summer in East Tennessee and if you want to make it, you will need a giant pool of water. The other even greater cost is that Abel won’t be able to hear much of our summer vacation. Pools, lakes, splash pads, a rainy day. What previously was a great sensory experience is now diminished quite a bit for him. Not to mention, it will be a safety issue, too. Costly hearing equipment, sure. The true cost is his ability to hear, though.
That’s what will take my breath away. That’s what turns my anger into gut punching sadness. His eyes filled with tears, he took off to his room, and he laid on his bed and he cried. I went to him trying to console him as he tried to get it together. He’s tough. He willed himself to stop his body from shaking with tears, he slowly dried his eyes, and finally he stood up. He straightened up his clothes and he went outside to enjoy the rest of the evening.
He knows life doesn’t stop for him. He knows how to be persistent. He’s five years old. I was nearly thirty when I learned that lesson. It took him to make me see that. So, again I’ll take a page from Abel’s story. I will stand up from the catharsis of my keyboard, dry my eyes, and straighten out my running shorts. Life doesn’t stop. Goals aren’t reached by sitting in sadness. Get it together, Mama. You’ve got this. You are stronger than you’ve ever imagined. YOU are, too (you who are reading this).

Thanks for the lesson, Abe.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ocean Treasures

No one writes blog posts anymore because no one reads them anymore. By no one, of course, I only mean very few. But most people seem to only want their information in the abbreviated squares of Insta or the shortened text of a tweet. No one reads blogs anymore like no one writes letters to mail off or how no one picks up an old book to read to drink in the smell of the worn paper or feel the rough edges of a well-loved classic.
I can be guilty of it, too. Scrolling through my feed, I think- Get to the point. What's the article about? I prefer the bullet points. Perhaps that's the problem. No one is taking the time to craft their words. No one is taking the time to read. To quote Brooks Hatlen, "The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry."
But reading and writing is a part of so many of us. We need the words like we need other things. Flossing. Water intake. Coffee. If I don't partake in those, I'm going to surely regret it. Reading and writing is the same for me. Many times I fall into a rhythm of snapping eighty five photos of one single moment thus barely stopping to take it in. It's like that photo of the elderly woman with her hands resting folded over some gate with no camera, no phone, and a contented smile while an enormous crowd around her is excitedly taking picture after picture of whatever or whoever they are there to see. I thought of this while we were at the beach last week. I live with one foot in a world where documentation is paramount and the other foot back in a simpler time when the thought to take a picture hardly ever crossed the mind.
Some of my favorite memories do not have a corresponding photo to accompany them.
It was our honeymoon. We took it six months after getting married, but we called it a honeymoon just the same. Any break after a long Alaska winter was to be celebrated. Our celebration of choice? The Big Island of Hawaii. Our adventurous spirits left us with an over-planned vacation and the goal to be certified scuba divers at the conclusion of it. That meant, we spent a ton of time on a boat and under water instead of drinking up the sun on the rocky beaches or laying in a hammock intertwined as would have been appropriate for two people newly in love, yet to be distracted by children or work.
It was a wonderful break. We took a few photos, of course, but for the most part our bodies were exhausted from fighting the ocean. Kicking and fighting, wave after wave. I don't regret anything. It was an amazing experience to be able to breathe underwater and swim alongside exotic fish and even sharks. One day, we had double dives planned. If you want to be certified, you have to have a certain amount of hours and dives logged underwater. We were living in Alaska and were not interested in a cold water dive, thank you very much. We had to get our time in while we were in Hawaii. Anyway, we had finished our first dive and were waiting on the boat with the captain and crew for the next one to start. Muscles sore from the exertion and eyes tired from the lack of sleep, we were fine to lean up against the starboard side and sit there until the time expired. But one of the dive instructors, a native Hawaiian with his long hair in a bun and his love for the water ever apparent, made his way over to tell us of a pod of dolphins that were approaching the boat. "You do this at your own risk, but do it! Quick! Grab your snorkel gear and jump in!"
That's how we managed an experience of a lifetime- swimming with dolphins in the wilds of the Pacific Ocean. It was intimidating and exhilarating. The precision of their movement is incredible. Fast, sure movements. Superior, free swimmers darting all around us. We became their school, their pod. We could reach out and touch if they would let us, but I didn't dare. I just watched, amazed. Now, every time I see a dolphin from far out, I remember our days in Hawaii and how we were the lucky ones. I have only my memory and a few words to recall that day, but man, what a treasure.

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