this bond. our dog bianca and our daughter boheme. bianca thinks boheme is her baby. i always find her curled up right next to her baby, loving on her. she kisses her all over and boheme giggles. she keeps boheme company while i am in the shower or cooking dinner or helping with summer reading. boheme cries for bianca if she can’t see her. i know this because as soon as bianca comes to her, she stops. i tell bianca everyday what a great mommy she is–her tail wags because she knows it’s true.
we ventured out of southern california and headed north to my mother-in-law’s house to relax in the country. i had thought ten long hours in the car with a baby and two rambunctious little boys would be unpleasant but the children surprised us. for the first eight hours, i was amazed that the boys were engaged enough with each other to play with their toys, watch movies, play video games, and sing. the last two hours, however, were a different story. the excitement subsided and the boredom set in, which triggered the endless stream of “are we there yet” questions.
this picture was taken yesterday in our front yard after boheme was baptized. the crown of flowers was made for her by my mother.
happy birthday, america. happy fourth to all of you. and happy eight months together my babies.
this duo. there are six and a half years between them, but the love they have for each other is timeless. in the beginning, i worried that they would have difficulty bonding because of their age gap. but, right now i can only see a strong, comforting, and loving bond between them. the same bond i share with my own brothers and sisters. jt is an amazing older brother and role model. he is, by far, her favorite playmate.
i often wonder how their relationship will evolve and transform as they grow, boheme into a little girl and jt into a teenager. i can only hope that, with patience and tolerance, they will remain as close as they are today.
school is out and our first morning of summer break starts slow. the boys sleep in until eight-thirty. they make their way down stairs with their blankets and bedheads. we have a long, slow breakfast of scrambled eggs and pancakes. i sip coffee as we talk and laugh and plan. with every story they share, my world grows in size. the baby sits in her highchair blowing raspberries with a mouth full of food. the dog scratches her bowl waiting to be fed. my heart swells as i recognize the beauty in this moment. my three little souls safe in our nest. together. happy. thriving. this summer nothing will be forced. we’ll allow life to unfold organically and gently.
june 3, 1946 to may 3, 1996
your passing has made me both stronger and weaker. when you first left, i had to learn new ways of existing in this world. it was clear to me that i would always miss you. that you would never walk me down the isle. that you would never meet my children. in the early days, i picked up the phone to call you a couple of times–only to realize you wouldn’t answer. now, i know other methods of communication.
as you watch down on us today, I want to tell you that your grandchildren know you. they know you’re happy. they know you were sick. they know you got your wings. they know your favorite song and all about your “gym bag”. they know about the cracker game we used to play, and that you used to say “ruff” instead of “roof”. they know that your left arm used to twitch and that you had a burn on your other arm. they know you were a lawyer and then a cab driver. they think it’s cooler that you drove a cab.
today we mourn your death, but every day we celebrate your life. did you see the spaceship to heaven that jt drew at school? he said when he is older he is going to build it so he can come see you anytime he wants. i tell your grandchildren all of your jokes. i give them all your advice. i show them all your love. you are alive in this home…
boheme, this is the ocean. what do you think? does it scare you with its deep, dark secrets? does the sound remind you of when you lived inside of me? can you feel the salt on your skin? can you taste it on your lips? do you feel different here? look boheme, this is sand. do you like the way it feels in between your toes? boheme, see the seal swimming in the ocean? do you notice how peaceful he seems? Boheme, that is a boat. this is a sandcastle. those are clouds. here is a salty kiss.
boheme, i took you on our daily late afternoon nature walk today and, while watching your soft, delicate, dimpled hands touch the world around you, there arose a feeling of truth from our familiar path. a truth so obvious that it has taken me my whole life to learn. a truth i want you to know from the start.
as human beings, we can be so complicated and rarely say exactly what we mean. rarely show exactly how we feel. never truly touch life. i can’t even tell you how many times, after an interaction, i have been left confused and struggling to understand what it really meant.
but nature is unconcealed. like you at five months old, it holds nothing back. it will be your greatest teacher so stay close, watch, and listen. watch how trees blowing in a storm show you their strain. listen to the birds proudly sing their song, unafraid of what the other birds might think. watch how the plants and animals thrive without technology or modern luxuries, showing you what the real world really looks like.
now our walk is over and we are home. you are in a deep sleep beside me. the kind of sleep that only comes from fresh air in your lungs, and sun on your skin. my suspicion is that you are dreaming of colors, and textures, and butterfly wings. warm tears burn my face because i know i can’t protect you from the human experience. i can only teach you what i’ve learned.
so, as you bloom like spring, i will do my best to show you the real world. i will do my best to expose you to the wisdom of nature. but if i fail, you always have these words.
i love you my darling daughter. you were beautiful in every way today–and everyday. i can’t wait to see you when you wake up.
the other night, while i was getting the boys ready for their bath, my oldest son proudly made an announcement.
“i’m not taking baths anymore,” he said. “baths are for babies. i’m only taking showers now.”
“what!!!!!! no more baths? why? i mean, okay, sure! whatever you want! take a shower bud.”
i started the shower for him, died a little inside, and kingston bathed alone–for the first time.
i know it’s just a shower. and what’s the big deal? and calm yourself down erica! but it’s also so much more than that too, you know?
i remember his very first bath after his umbilical cord fell out–how nervous i was. i remember the way his head smelled as a freshly cleaned baby. i remember how i stroked his forehead to sleep, after the comfort of a warm bath. all the bubbles and laughs and crazy shampoo hair. all the comfort and routine and life.
I can’t stop all of the things that keep changing, and the shifts that keep happening, and i would never dream of it. i used to measure time by my next vacation, my next girls night out, my next date night. but now, time is measured by a little boy and his milestones.
but this is what motherhood does. it makes you a crazy person who mourns the passage of time. i cried the day we left the hospital after his birth because i knew that my body would never again be home to him. that i would never again feel his kicks from the inside. i cried the day he crawled, the day he walked, the day he lost his first tooth, and the day he stopped taking baths.
and here he is in the shower…
this is just another example of how my little boy flourishes into each new stage of his life with ease and trust. the mourning i feel from time passing is lost in the joy i feel from watching with him blossom.