Most days, I am good—more than good, I am astounded by the graciousness of my life. I feast my eyes on all the beauty around me. Yesterday I picked 8 roses from my Julia Child rose bush and have many more than 8 about to bloom this week on that same plant. My sweet chickens eat out of my hand, allow me to run my hand down their body while they perch on my arm. Their beautiful feathers are almost all out now and it is magical getting to pet them. I wake up to my equally sweet girl-cat Spot as she comes and lies right top of me, early, early in the morning. It isn’t long after that before her sister Daisy starts stirring and then puts her two paws up against the bed and woofs. Sometimes, Sherod will get up and I will squeeze just a bit more sleep in, but inevitably, when I do get up, they are both waiting patiently for me and escort me out of the room, down the hallway and into the kitchen. On my way to take the chickens their breakfast, Dot walks with me and demands not just to be fed but to be loved on as well. I have friends and work, and a beautiful house and so many projects there isn’t enough time in the day. Nonetheless, today has been hard.
I miss my daughter. Some of what I miss is what we call those ‘normal’ milestones. One friend’s daughter has just headed off to start college, a couple of other friends are helping their daughters plan and prepare for their weddings. There are the stories of fun travel and professional accomplishment and so many other ways in which generations connect and construct these beautiful multifaceted and colorful lives. It isn’t that my love for Lucerito, my little light, is any way diminished by what we are not able to do. It is precisely because the love is so wide and so deep and so high that I grieve what we don’t get to look forward to.
My loneliness for her is also all about incarnation—this is the woman child who still slips her hand in mine when we walk down the street, who still needs my help with personal grooming, who came to us so self-contained that I had to teach her how to allow me to touch or comfort her. Now, she almost quivers in her stillness when I run my fingers through her hair, when I come into her room at night and sit next to her on her bed and scratch her back while we sing the good night songs that got us through all those nights of terror when she first came into our life. For lack of a better word, there is this anguish that I am so far away and months go by without getting to be with her. I know I don’t have it bad—heck lots of my friends with grown up sons and daughters who even go years without seeing their children. But there’s a part of me that knows that my work of mothering has been forced into a a too small, too limited space and I ache.
Maria loves it when I make things for her. She also gets a little miffed when I make something to give to someone else. Since early July, I have been working on a quilt for her. This is my first foray into this particular work and it is painstaking and almost excruciatingly precise. Today, because I missed her so much, I spent the better part of the day working on this project, a gift I hope to take with me on our next visit. I’ve run into the limits of my very basic, small Singer sewing maching because I don’t have the space in the ‘neck’ of the machine to ‘bunch up’ the ‘fabric sandwich’ as I do the actual quilting. There are some ‘work arounds’ that I will try next. Even in Southeast Florida, cooler weather will arrive soon enough and I am happy thinking that she’ll be able to wrap it around herself. I think and pray and hum as I sew, and acknowledge that this is the best I can do to show that love is real today. It isn’t nearly enough. But it is something…