The Heavy

The Heavy

There’s an American here who has terminal pancreatic cancer. Terminal in the sense of being at work two weeks ago and gone from this earth tomorrow. I can’t get her out of my head. Thirty four. Kids ages six and four, just like mine. How do you say goodbye? There was a flurry of activity in the first days after she got the diagnosis. The vegan friend insisted she go vegan, the woman studying Ayervedic herbs had lots of advice about turmeric and coffee enemas. She is religious, so there’s that to consider. We started cooking, then stopped when she stopped eating. The best intentions of a community that isn’t. I’d never met her, but my husband was friendly with her at work. But it’s still too close for comfort. Close enough to make me think about what I would do, what I would want, if I was in her place. How do you say goodbye? There are three children in my son’s school who’s mother passed away from cancer last year. The oldest child pulled out all of her eyelashes and eyebrows after her mother died. They are just starting to grow back but her face has no light. The littlest one sits in the toddler room with her nanny, surrounded by boisterous mamas and children older than her enjoying a nurse and a cuddle. She sucks her thumb and stares off into space. I hug her but she shies away. How do you say goodbye? How do you say goodbye in a way that will ease their pain? That will allow them to live a life that...
Nobody Listening

Nobody Listening

Quite often while making lunch, a phone will ring, my Sadie (4) will answer, and hand it to me. “It’s Jack Johnson mama, he wants to talk to you”. I hold the orange plastic phone to my ear and glance at her. She’s listening and so is my son, six. Both are big fans of Jack Johnson. They know most of his songs and they know that he contributes 100% of his tour earnings to charity. “Hey man” I say into the phone. “How’s it going? Cool. No, it’s a good time, I’m just making some lunch. How are the waves today?” And then something a little crazy usually happens. I start to tell Jack about my day, about how I wish it were warmer, how I want to feel the sun on my skin “I’ll bet its 80 there in Hawaii!” I say. The kids move on, but, standing by the stove, I keep talking. I tell him how tired I am. How I don’t think I can drink one more cup of tea, but that it’s the only thing keeping me going. How weary I am of worrying about sore throats and coughs. I find myself talking to him like I really am talking to him. Is it because I don’t speak to many adults all day? Perhaps I am slightly delirious from lack of sleep? Or maybe because, with the silence at the other end of the plastic phone, it just feels good to be listened to. A friend of mine here in England is trained in Hand in Hand Parenting, a parenting style developed in...
Birthday Bike

Birthday Bike

She turned four yesterday and today she rode her birthday bike. No training wheels for her and no fear. A couple of wobbles and she was yelling “let go!” And I let go. I ran behind for as long as I could and she flew. She is fearless. It terrifies me. It fills me with awe and amazement and wonder. It is one of those moments that I hope to remember for the rest of my life. One of the moments that make all of the really hard moments completely and absolutely worth it. I struggle with the balance between protecting and letting go. Letting the fearlessness take her through a magical life but keeping her alive to see it. I struggle and because I am mindful of the struggle I hope that I am keeping the balance for her. The world will present all of its fears soon enough. For our children, coming of age in the time of climate change, terrorism, internet infinity with its overwhelming and endless negative and violent imagery, we must protect the fearlessness as long as we can. It is the secret to their future wellbeing and survival. It will give them hope when the world seems hopeless. It will allow them to believe that they can make a difference. Ride on, baby girl. I am so honored to be on this journey with...