Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Of Sunshine and Seasides and Hope - A Photo Essay

See that girl in the pink?
She is the best medicine in our lives just now,
and we had ourselves a good, healthy dose yesterday.
Last week's visit to my mom was hard,
and the road ahead will continue to be so. 
This end-of-life journey will be fraught with 
confusion and loss
and I will hate it.
A lot.
I am talking to God about it,
often yelling while I do,
but also coming back round to center,
remembering that no matter how lost
my mother feels to me,
she is never lost to God.

So. Yesterday was a school holiday for our girl,
and we were given the gift of being with her.
She sprang through our door about 8:45 a.m.,
dressed from head to toe in HOT pink,
complete with sequins lining the pockets of her fleece jacket.
A new outfit from Target, picked out by herself. . .
and of course, it had to be pink.
And not just pink, but PINK
We pulled out the Lego bins, filled with
colorful bricks that once belonged to her dad,
and she dug in with gusto.
Almost three hours for this 7-year-old
of creating, disassembling, re-arranging
and fun. 
I sat at the table, 10 feet away,
reading blogs and email,
 enjoying her easy company and occasional conversation.
Then we piled into the car about noon,
and headed out to the wharf.
It was a stunning day.
Crystal clear, about 60 degrees, 
with warm sun on our shoulders.
We went to the local Sea Center,
a small marine museum, featuring exhibits
about the creatures which inhabit these coastal
waters in the Santa Barbara channel.
This is a very bright girl,
eternally curious and actively engaged with 
whatever is going on around her.
From tiger sharks to sea stars,
from restless Garibaldi to the breathtaking view 
out the back wall,
she explored it all.
In the 'wet room,' where buckets are dropped 
directly into the ocean through a large hole
in the wharf,
she watched, intrigued,
as several students older than she
put the contents of a bucketload through a 
sifter and then a microscope.
Upstairs was a small exhibit of jellyfish,
those brainless creatures of grace and transparency.
You can just make her out to the left of
the observation window, 
momentarily entranced.
Against a very dark wall, there was a slide
of moving shapes and colors
and Gracie wanted a picture in front of it.
A little bit too dark, however, 
and the flash obliterated the slide on the wall.
In the upstairs gangway, there was a small puppet theater,
which enraptured her. 
She had such fun entertaining us with
each and every one.
One look at this sweet girl's face
and all the sadness just sort of lifted
away like a cloak,
dropping to the floor around me.

This guy apparently inflicted some pain!
But the dolphin was sweet as could be.
We took her to lunch at Longboard's about 90 minutes later.
She loves the peanut barrel there,
where you can scoop up as much as you want,
eat as much as you want, and --
wait for it! --
toss all the peanut shells right onto the deck!
How cool is that??
We finished our adventure with a trip to the
ice cream shoppe -
single scoop of Cotton Candy on a sugar cone, please.
It even matched her outfit.
She ate every last bite, too --
without spilling a drop on her new outfit --
until that very last bite, when the cone
broke. . . and there was a bright blue
spot in the middle of all that pink.
As we sat in the sun, enjoying our ice cream,
this catamaran came within about a stone's throw,
gliding through the sea,
loaded with inquisitive tourists,
eager to view the coastline and enjoy
their afternoon on the water.
I took a deep breath, trying to capture the moment.
A beautiful grandchild - one of eight such
magnificent gifts in our life.
A spectacular day - in a magnificent location.
And we get to live here,
fifteen minutes from this girl and her sister.
The older kids live one to three hours south of here,
so these are the kiddos we see most often
and are graced to care for from time to time.
This, this is gift.
And I am grateful.
And for a while, as the sun shone down,
and the water sparkled,
and the glory-girl grinned her toothless
grin at me while her Poppy watched with love --
for a while, that hurting place in my heart
was healed right over.
Thank you, Gracie, for being you:
God's gift to all of us.

Signing on with Michelle DeRusha, Jen Ferguson, Laura Boggess and Ann Voskamp. Sad to say good-bye to Seedlings in Stone this week - but trust that Laura Barkat's fine work will continue to show up in some other sparkling setting - I know it will show up at TSP!