taking it all in

November 24, 2011

I just tried to take it all in. A candle burned on the table while my brother-in-law lead us in prayer, the flame rolled about the wick, consuming it in the same way we were about to consume our Thanksgiving meal. I thought of flames that burn out. When we began to give thanks my sister cried soft tears, scarcely hidden, and falling for the obvious reasons. I decided to allow mine to fall too. George Winston’s December played on the CD player just loud enough to accompany the scuffling of everyone taking their place at the table. I tried to take it all in, every last smell, every last savory bite, every toast, every joke. I wanted to soak it up like the gravy, life gravy. I just tried to take it all in.

Throughout the day, there were more than the usual number of eye contact moments with the girls. It was as if we were each noticing that I was here, here for this one and maybe not for the next. Inspired by a cruel understanding, our hearts instinctively choreographed precious shared moments, a look in the eye, a smile, an extra long hug, a love so very deep no words need be spoken. My teenagers were loving me, just by looking my way. I just tried to take it all in.

The night prior my sister and her sister-in-law and our oldest daughters made pies and some of us drank wine and we read aloud Thanksgiving jokes that had been emailed to one of us. We laughed a lot about things I can’t remember the next day and we talked about relationships and we all agreed on how hard it is to see one of your children get their hearts broken. We drank more wine and continued to make pies until my arms and back were sore from rolling dough. Everyone felt concerned because I was getting tired and so that was when Erin stepped in and finished the last few pie crusts for me. She took the rolling-pin from my hands like a baton and made several perfectly beautiful crust. Today there was one crust that stood out above the others in flavor and texture and I have chosen to believe it was the one made by my daughter who understood in a moment that her role has changed. She will roll dough for pies and I will rest and try to take care of myself. And I just tried to take all of that in too.

After dinner the piano was played and Erin did the song that is not really a song at all but a finger exercise. My mother likes it and it does sound quite beautiful. Next she played Glen Hanson’s Falling Slowly from the movie Once. Erin plays that song because she knows I love it the same way all of my girls learned to play Ode to Joy. I love that one too and they all play it and I cry happy tears because Ode to Joy played by your child is just about a perfect moment so they have made many of those perfect moments for me throughout the years. Then the niece who never sings for us sang for us and her voice is beautiful like an angel. I wondered if she would sing at my funeral. Next someone brought in a guitar and there was a lot of singing and of trying to play popular songs by ear and because Allie got a little shy about singing in front of everyone she came and cuddled with me in the big chair by the piano, the one with all the perfect pillows. Allie smelled sweet and her head rested on my shoulder. We listened to the others and we sang in whisper voices to each other. I held her hand and I tried really very hard to take all of that part in too.

I shared the last glass of wine with Doug and we talked a little before he will drive home. The girls and I will stay one more night because tomorrow is Black Friday and my mother and my sister will go shopping while I take the little kids to a movie. Doug and I shared the wine and we talked about our daughters and it was good wine because that is all my sister serves and I then I told him how I had been getting sad at night when I goto bed because I am alone in my room and it doesn’t seem right to be alone at night anymore. And so while we shared the wine and talked of our girls and everyone else dried and put away the dishes, I asked if he thought it would be ok if we moved our bedrooms back into the same room so he could hold me when I am scared. Doug cried a little because he never cries a lot and I cried a little too and he squeezed me hard and said he thought that would be just fine and he continued to hold me and it felt really good to feel that love from him. While I was still crying a little and my head was resting on Doug’s arm Mattie came up and asked if I was ok and I said that I was ok and that Daddy too can make me cry happy tears. The house now was filled with the sweet smell of dish soap and the kitchen was busy with people trying to help put the dishes away. Another George Winston song played behind us and even though she didn’t know why, Mattie smiled at the happy tears that come with the correction of a ten-year mistake between her mom and dad. This may be my last Thanksgiving. I am just trying to take it all in.


7 Responses to “taking it all in”

  1. Betsy Happel Says:

    Do not stop writing.

  2. Larissa Says:

    Achingly beautiful post, Ronnie. Thank you.

  3. gaye g.p Says:

    You always leave me speechless (and frequently tearful), and words are my tools, my toys. Carry on.

  4. Kim Mosley Says:

    There was a zen master (Suzuki Roshi) who was dying. His students stood around him grieving. He scolded them, saying “Do not grieve for me… I know who I am.”

    Threats to our life seem to bring something very special to the heart. Thanks again for sharing who you’ve become.

  5. maxineclark Says:

    Ronnie: I juts discoverd your blog and it is a wonderful tribute to you sand your talent to see things as they are.
    You are loved.

    belle starr

  6. Barbara Jarvis Says:

    Ronnie, I am so glad that you could take it all in. And that you could share happy tears. My goal has been to not waste time and continue to LIVE each moment to its fullest. You certainly demonstrated this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts of the day.

  7. Your Posse Says:

    I refuse to view our time together as the last of anything. You are my daughter and I will not give up, give in or lose hope. I don’t care what any doctor says . . . they are not God. God understands the love a mother has for her children. I know he hears my prayers.

    I love you 2day, 2morrow & 4ever and I will never give up.

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