I’m away at a clergy day, at the Morton Arboretum. It is beyond beautiful. Like those Christmas Card images of snow on trees and vast amounts of space. A winter wonderland, untouched by the city stains that turn snow to sludge to mush to gross. We spent the morning singing and in prayer, and, ever the skeptic, I expected to be annoyed by the singing. To my shock and delight, it was actually pretty great. And moments of stillness filtered in and space opened and coffee made its way to me and all was right with the world.
When I saw my mother had left a voice mail on my cellphone, my heart instantly leapt to my grandmother. Lent seems to be her dying season. This time last year we got the “she’s dying tomorrow, get your ass home” rally cry. Not only did she not die, but she got, if not better, she got stable. She has remained under hospice care.
The hospice nurse called my mom, who is understandably in shock. She thinks my grandmother has maybe a day or two left. I am looking at plane fares. Debating between church responsibilities and questions of the needs of my soul, my heart to see that face just once more.
She has let go of me, in her memory. But I have not let go of her. Bloated and changed, helpless and different as she looks in a hospital bed, she is still the face that showed me what joy looks like, that etched on me my belovedness. Hers is still the face of heartbreak and wondering what could’ve been done differently, of wondering how to fix a person who is broken. Hers is the face of love, of patience, of despair and of hope. Hers is the face of a grandmother.
Hi y’all (if anyone is still out there!):
I’m still here.
I went away on vacation in mid July–hands down one of the best vacations in years. If I can’t get out of the States to go trail-blazing in Spain or hit the Holy Land to get a little closer to those roads that JC walked, send me to my native land of fried okra and heirloom tomatoes out of my parents’ garden. Leaving Athens, driving to Florida (private frickin’ beach, off season, y’all–I saw 4 other people on the entire beach while I was there–paradise), the cooler was packed with veggies out of my mom & step-dad’s garden, as well as veggies from my papa & his beloved’s garden. It was heaven. We had cold cucumbers and tomatoes for lunch for days and it made my heart happy. Almost as happy as seeing all the people I love.
On my last day (last hour) in Athens, I sang happy birthday to my grandmother, on her 90th birthday. We sang it 6 times and each time it was new to her and she was delighted. “Sarah, hurry up and cut me some of that cake. I’m hungry!” (And how great does my mom look?)
I also spent a little bit of time in Decatur and saw a friends from college that I haven’t seen in years, which made me unbelievably happy. And a really bad movie: A Simple Plan. Don’t watch it. It’s awful. I mean really bad.
And there was the beach–books and dolphins and sand dollars and blueberry pie and wine and sun and Monopoly and no internet (save my iPhone–but even so, no email for 12 days!) and sea kayaking and a lost $300 pair of Rx sunglasses and seashells and green beans and coffee and no mosquito’s and coconuts from the trees and the priest at Mass who forgot to consecrate anything but the priest’s host and figured no one would notice if he just threw some unconsecrated wafers in the ciborium (I noticed), Scrabble and margaritas and sunsets and it was all over far too soon.
Since I’ve gotten back it’s been work and life. I’m turning over story ideas in my head which I have yet to get on paper. I’m a bit homesick for the South, which, having been so eager to leave, always suprises me a bit. Pepper, a 5 month old black lab spent the weekend and I remembered with joy how much fun it is to have a dog around, and also, bittersweetly, knew the loss of Micah even more deeply. I’m not ready–not yet–for another dog. But I’m open to the possibility. In time.
There’s more to write, but not now. For now I drink coffee and wonder about Stewardship and the Virgin Mary (not as far apart as you might think!) and step forward, one foot in front of the other, in this strange land I call home.
have i ever told you that my grandmother, paternal side, was a foot model? it’s true. it was either the 40s or the early 50s. hers were the feet you’d see in the catalogs of with fancy shoes. my father tells me that she had tons of them, sometimes getting to take home the shoes she’d worn for a photo shoot. best of all, she had a gigantic picture of her beautiful feet hanging over the fireplace. words can not describe for you how much i wish i had this photo. it was destroyed in an apartment fire long before i was ever so much as a glimmer in my father’s eyes, so it lives on now only in memories and story telling. somedays, more than anything, i wish i had inherited her feet.